Local veteran puts on Gala for Warrior Camp
By MEGHAN PIERCE
Union Leader Correspondent | July 20. 2014 8:25PM
Thomas C. Harvey of Jaffrey is made an honorary alumni of Warrior Camp at the 1st Annual Warrior Camp Gala in Jaffrey Saturday night. Meghan Pierce
Warrior Camp alum Jennifer Pacanowski of Allentown, Pennsylvania, reads poetry she wrote to express her challenges with PTSD at the 1st annual Warrior Camp Gala in Jaffrey Saturday. Meghan Pierce
There are three components to Warrior Camp, Usadi said: equine assisted psychotherapy, yoga and eye movement desensitization and reprocessing therapy.
Because of their approach, Usadi said 68 percent of the participants who arrive at Warrior Camp with chronic PTSD no longer meet that diagnosis by the end of the week.
“They train together. They live together and they go to war together in very tightly knit units and some of the people have said we have created that feeling again that nobody has had since they had been discharged,” Usadi said.
“I think there are periods of time when it gets a lot of attention which is when something terrible happens to a veteran,” Usadi said. “Such a small percentage of our population goes to war that most Americans don’t get what a big challenge this is.”
The veterans shared similar stories, including drinking too much when they returned from Iraq and being placed on more and more prescription drugs by the VA.
“We’ve had people come in on 18, 20 medications and leave on three,” Usadi said. “Most things the people are on are not helpful, it’s the wrong dosage and it’s not good, it affects people’s nervous systems.”
“Three-hundred million people in this country, only one percent of Americans join the military, a total volunteer force. And it took me a few years to utter the saying PTSD, drinking too much, I found myself in a spiral and then I found Warrior Camp,” McMahon said.
“The thing is you can’t talk your nervous system out of being traumatized,” she said.
So Pacanowski turned to writing, she said. Saturday night she read several of her poems that touched on the suicide of friends, her experiences in Iraq and homeless veterans.
Warrior Camp has helped Pacanowski in several ways since she attended it in January. She has a therapy dog that she can now travel without.
“You learn to deal with it internally as opposed to through medication,” McMahon said. “What they do is miraculous.”
Harvey said his primary goal in holding the gala was to raise awareness about PTSD. He said he plans to continue the gala every year.