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Resiliency as part of the healing process

  • Published
  • By Shawn Sprayberry
  • Air Force Wounded Warrior Program
The Air Force Wounded Warrior Program (AFW2) kicked off its Northeast Region Warrior CARE Event at the National Harbor, starting the week with a day of resiliency programs featuring music, yoga, journaling and improvisational comedy workshops.

“In the past we would start our events with a traditional opening ceremony with the host base in attendance,” said Col Flatten, AFW2 director. “The first day would begin really early and would be stressful for everyone involved. We found we can ease into the week better by starting off with our resiliency programs first.”

This is the second Warrior CARE Event AFW2 has put on in this way and it has shown to be effective in making the week go smoothly, providing a little bit of respite for warriors weary from travel.

“While we want to get to work, it really strains those wounded warriors who may have medical issues that are compounded by travel,” said Marsha Gonzales, AFW2 support branch chief. “We looked at ways of making things smoother and found that spreading out our resiliency programs throughout the day reduced warriors’ stress.”

“In the past our resiliency programs were held at night,” said Dr. Aaron Moffett, AFW2 recovery services program manager. “Attendance was always good, but we never really reached 100% of the wounded warriors attending our events. This way we can show everyone how effective these programs can be in hopes they may take these new skills and apply them at home.”

There are over 100 wounded warriors and caregivers broken up into four groups at this event. Each group will rotate through each resiliency program, getting a chance to experience each workshop. The idea is to give them access to new tools they can use towards along the path of restorative care, adding to the long-term success of their overall recovery and resiliency.

“I like how they did this, easing into it,” said Staff Sgt. Jared Perrin, parachute rigger with the 733rd Logistic Readiness Squadron at Joint Base Elmendorf-Richardson, Alaska. “My favorite part so far has been Rock to Recovery. It was first thing in the morning for me and it felt good to make some noise to wake up.”

Rock to Recovery is led by Wes Geer, former touring guitarist of Korn, and Sonny Mayo, former guitarist for Sevendust. The workshop shows how music is a part of all of us whether you are a “shower singer” or full-blown musician. Warriors also learned about improvisational comedy during Improv to Improve, taught by retired Staff Sgt. BJ Lange, a fellow wounded warrior and stand-up comedian. He showed them how improv can calm the mind as they work through skits that keep them on their toes. There are also courses on yoga and functional strength training as well as a course on the benefits of journaling.

AFW2 will carry this new process forward into the new year, when they head Joint Base Pearl Harbor-Hickam, Hawaii, in January.