Carol Anne Costa: From Shock to Chakra
Thursday, August 28, 2014
A Rhode Island Story
Meet Jessica Coulter, a woman who decided, perhaps in a classroom at Bay View Academy or maybe strolling the Newport waterfront that she was going to serve. She knew college was not for her and that the military was a good fit to develop her future. So she enlisted in the United States Air Force. A year into her service, she was the victim of a military sexual assault; an act of violence sadly shared by thousands of men and women in the military. Over 5000 reports of military sexual assault annually leave scars well beyond what most of us can fathom. The VA, WWP, and the United States Senate are moving toward as Senator Patty Murray put it, “to change the culture of the military” with regard to the scourge of MSA. The post-traumatic results of these assaults are shocking and leave a trail of broken minds, families and hearts in their wake. It remains a priority for society and communities to assist these people from the ground up. And, as for Rhode Island the continual shredding of the social safety net, high unemployment, a depressed job market, the shrinking availability of safe affordable and decent housing, disjointed information delivery systems and antiquated government practices only tend to exacerbate the amount of veterans that simply need a hand. That is why Jessica's story is so important, moving and should provide a first hand testimonial on how to better serve our veterans, and sometimes it only is a shoulder to lean on.
A single mother of two really impressive sons, Jessica like so many other victims internalized the trauma and suffered guilt, self-blame and embarrassment. The journey back into civilian life came with many obstacles and a tendency to reject the thought of reaching out for help. She found the strength to move on in the eyes of her children and the simple offer of a gift card. The emotions that jumped off the TV screen at me made it so clear it was her motherhood and human compassion which spurred her healing, “When Mom goes down we all go down.” spoken like a soldier, she kept her allegiance to her family in spite of her sometimes deep and dark despair. The chronicle of the frustrating journey through red tape and bureaucracy was palpable. It leaves little doubt why so many vets make terrible choices with too often, fatal consequences.
Hope and Healing in Yoga
Jessica’s found a new direction in yoga, a new energy a power that fends off the negative and provides a reboot. Chakra is said to be the molding of the physical energy. Chakra functions in order to vitalize the body and awaken self-consciousness. What Jessica discovered on the yoga mat proved to be life altering and a reaffirmation of her vitality. She finally found time for herself, and the chance to quiet the noise and find her center. Thankfully, Jessica shared her story, which in and of itself is not an easy thing to do, but it is her testimony, which will provide a guide as our warriors return home with PTSD. It is in programs like the Wounded Warrior Project, which pay it forward for vets. The WWP bio of Jessica states, “Jessica stayed active as an Alumna, and WWP helped with things like understanding the new G.I. Bill and resume writing to get her professional life on track.” The WWP also helps vets with peer mentors in order they have a person to call on when feeling unsure and overwhelmed. It is up to us to honor the service of the military by supporting efforts to bolster them in their transition to civilian life.
Paying it Forward
It was Mother Teresa who said, “Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.” A hand up, a smile, an offer of help, are all things that go a long way. As a nation we can only help these folks one at a time. Having found healing in yoga, Jessica has begun to share her talents and experiences for folks suffering with trauma. Jessica is a yoga instructor at the Naval Undersea War Center specializing military and military family yoga, helping active and retired service men and women. She is a yoga instructor within the City of Newport as well as a spoken word artist. Jessica is available for any organization that would further like to discuss how yoga helps heal trauma. You can learn more about her at http://www.jessica9names.com.
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