What is Resilient Warrior and Resilient Family?
Hope For The Warrior’s Resilient Warrior courses are a six-week long course that teaches student veterans and service members how to lower the effect of stress through mind-body techniques and skill-building exercises. The program has a long-term goal of eliciting the body’s relaxation response through achieving a transcendental, meditative place, and coping with PTSD symptoms, stress, and anxiety triggers to improve mood, well-being, and physical health.
Resilient Family, a new program, is intended for the spouse and/or caregiver of a military veteran or service member. The Resilient Family and Resilient Warrior program go hand-in-hand, but address stressors that take a heavy toll at home.
What are the program goals?
- To effectively manage stress
The program works with veterans to provide stress-relief tactics, with the intention of being able to acknowledge intrusive thoughts and how to positively work through them. The relaxation response is the opposite of the fright or flight response. You ellicit the relaxation response through long-term, meditative practice. These practices positively impact the nervous system by reducing the production of cortisol, which is proven to prevent or even reverse cognitive degeneration, a condition that is seen in veterans who suffer from PTSD. Furthermore, it has been proven that elliciting the relaxation response in response to either dwelling on a past trauma or anticipating an upcoming stressor, will help the veteran nervous system respond in many more positive ways. This has a direct impact on food cravings, tobacco use, alcohol consumption, etc.
- Improve overall quality of life
Aiming to educate participants on how they can be in control their daily stresses, the Resilient Warrior and Resilient Family programs teaches them to view stressful situation through a different lens and to acknowledge intrusive, unwanted, and/or stressful thoughts and react by practicing a positive relaxation exercise like deep breathing, meditation or even yoga. In addition to building more effective coping methods, the program encourages participants to adopt healthy-living practices by making personal care, sleep, nutrition and fitness a priority.
- Connect and build a support network with fellow veterans or military families
We recognized that each person’s experience in the military and military life is unique, but the group setting of these classes gives participants the opportunity to connect and share their stories of combat stress, loss, moral injury, as well as struggles they face upon their return home with their families, reintergrating into civilian life, and daily stressors like traffic, etc. Although the stories are different, the participants often realize the common ground they share with their fellow veterans. Often times, veterans have a very “ah-ha” moment and their thoughts, feelings, and behaviors are normalized through the supportive structure of the cohort. Our participants realize they are not alone or misunderstood like they thought. One of the most profound outcomes of this class is the peer-to-peer support networks that form and last beyond the 6-week program. We recognize that being resilient is an action that is strengthen overtime, in the future we are excited to offer mentorship opportunities for participants interested.
How has Resilient Warrior Impacted Veterans?
Hear from Resilient Warrior graduates themselves.
Joe McCarthy, Hope For The Warriors’ regional social worker, managing and instructing the Resilient Warrior program, a Resilient Warrior graduate, and combat veteran still serving with the Marine Corps Reserve, shares, “Resilient Warrior should honestly be a discharge requirement, however, it’s also something that you have to be ready and willing to take. When I was asked to take on this program, I just thought, “sure, okay”, but as I started to take the program myself, researching, and reviewing data, and completing the requirements to become an instructor, I was inspired to keep moving forward because of how it impacted me as a veteran, family member, and a social worker.”
Our first cohort of veterans took Resilient Warrior in January of 2018; here is how the program has influenced them.
“This program impacted me because I was able to share stories and listen to other veterans that are going through the same challenges. Their experiences definitely helped identify mine.”- USMC Veteran, 2005-2011
“The greatest incorporation is my learning to reframe a situation which may have been previously stressful (understanding the true importance in the realm of all things), increased physical fitness, and being appreciative. Each night before I lay down for sleep I say out loud what I am appreciative of from the day no matter how small.”- Retired Air Force First Sergeant
*Note* Class sessions will be selected based on participant interest. If participants are unable to join the offered session, they will be offered a spot in future sessions.
Apply For Services at www.hopeforthewarriors.org to learn more and RSVP for an upcoming class.