Veteran Freedom Retreat helping families cope with post-traumatic stress

Updated: Feb. 20, 2020 at 6:35 PM CST
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WICHITA FALLS, Texas (TNN) - Many veterans suffer from post-traumatic stress. This week a local group is getting an opportunity to attend a seven-day retreat with classes to help them cope, including Thursday’s horseback riding activity at the Patterson Ranch.

A couple attending the retreat for a third time shared their story.

“So, if it was not for this program here, I do not know what kind of shape I would be in now," Army Veteran Stephen Jaramill said. "I might be worse than when I was before.

He and his wife, who are now a Sponsor Couple helping new and first-time attendees, said the Veteran Freedom Retreat has been life-changing for their family and that is why they keep returning.

“I noticed a change when I left from here on how much better I felt, you know how much better I was able to cope with PTS, because I learned a lot of tools here and I know that my wife was also going through it with me,” Steven Jaramill, said.

Unlike other veteran trauma recovery programs, this retreat welcomes partners and family members.

“The partner experiences PTS just by living with the veteran that has PTS," Jones said. “The traumas that go with it are hard to communicate and explain to someone else what is going on in the veteran’s head.”

Serving more than 20-years in the Army, working overseas, and being injured, Steven Jaramill has tried all types of ways to cope.

“When he goes to the VA, it was more medication, more medication. This is the one that’s giving us so many tools, without medication,” Linda Jaramill said.

The retreat, now in its third year, is entirely free thanks to private donations and sponsors like the Patterson Group and David Jones said at the end of each retreat, the results are overwhelming.

“We had 18 couples in the last eight retreats that were ready for a divorce but ended up, before the end of the week, renewed their wedding vows," Jones said. "We’ve also had eight participants admit that they had a suicide plan ready in case the program did not work. But before they left, they had a life plan and threw away the suicide plan.”

“This program just as just helps you deal with it if you can’t explain all the things that we learn and all the things that we do and all the tools that they give us that and it doesn’t even end here,” Linda Jaramill said.

The program’s coordinator said the next retreat is set to take place in May and they already have ten couples signed up.

“The issues are in the tissues is what they say," Carol Holmes, Veteran Freedom Retreat yoga guide, said. "We work with tissues and it’s a relief to not have to think about how am I going to change you. You work with your body. Your body is going to move in a way that is most comfortable and if it forgets that then we retrain that.”

“What we do is kind of try to break down general horse knowledge teach them how the horse communicates you know what the ears mean the tail where the places they’re uncomfortable with you being, and then kind of compare that to a relationship standpoint," Markus Podell, National Wellness and Healing Center Angel Fire program director, said. "And by the end of the, the the event, once we’re done, what we have is a great representation of sometimes a conflict can happen in our relationships.”

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