One in five vets returning from Iraq and Afghanistan experience symptoms of Post Traumatic Syndrome or major depression, according to a 2008 study. Untreated, PTSD and depression can lead to drug use, marital problems, unemployment and even suicide.
Now a new workshop helping area veterans suffering from PTSD is having a dramatic effect.
“It’s saving lives,” states Gary Magnani, commander of American Legion Post 489. “It’s really making a difference.”
The eight-week Healing the Wounded Heart Workshop is facilitated by Allen Roland Ph.D, a Sonoma therapist, who first offered it to an existing PTSD group at the Yountville Veterans Home.
“It provide the tools to work with,” Magnani said, “a point of hope.”
Magnani said the group session is helping vets get off medication. “It’s no so much a clinical approach,” he said. “It’s about finding what’s hurt inside, and healing the heart.”
Male and female veterans from the wars in Korean, Vietnam, Dessert Storm and Iraq have participated, six to eight at a time.
“I have spoken with every participant before and after,” said Almond Bundy of the Vietnam Veterans of America’s Yountville chapter. “Each veteran said that their workshop experience was the single most important help they have received since their time in combat.” Keep in mind, he added “that some of the participants have been treated off and on by the VA for as long as 25 years.”
The results of that initial program were so dramatic that the participants wanted other veterans to have the experience, Bundy said. When no federal funding was forthcoming, his VVA Chapter 702 took on the challenge and started fundraising.
Bundy was enthused by his initial meeting with Magnani, a fellow vet. “It was clear that Gary understood immediately that these workshops could be a way home for veterans that have suffered for a long time,” Bundy said.
Within a week Sonoma’s Post 489 presented the first of many $500 checks.
“It is fair to say that the workshops may never have gotten off the ground if it wasn’t for Gary Magnani and Post 489” said Bundy. “We owe the them and their community supporters a large debt of gratitude.”
To Magnani, who has seen firsthand the treatment pull one Iraq veteran from the verge of suicide, the workshops are really making a difference. “We’re very proud to be on board with this.”
To find out more or to contribute, call Gary Magnani at 364.1984 in Sonoma or Almon Bundy 944.2431 in Napa County.