Therapy program offered to female vets

July 21, 2011 8:12:45 PM PDT
A Bay Area medical center is making a unique program available to veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan. The program is specifically designed for female veterans, offering therapies specifically targeted to their physical and emotional needs.

Army veteran Tangerine Gyi is learning to manage emotions that have haunted her for months. The adjustment back to normal life has been slow for Gyi after her return from Iraq and diagnosis with post-traumatic stress disorder.

"I'll be somewhere, like a mall for instance, and then I'll see myself back in Iraq," Gyi said.

A medical session Gyi attends isn't taking place at the Veteran's Affairs hospital, but at the Institute for Health and Healing ant California Pacific Medical Center in San Francisco. Counselor Leslie Davenport says the institute integrates a variety of alternative therapies from a session known as guided imagery, like the one Gyi attends, to acupuncture treatments.

"We offer a whole array of classes," said Davenport. Those classes include Yoga Ti Chi, Chi Gong and others.

"I also do meditation, soothing mediations," said Gyi. "It helps me to pay attention to my breathing and what's going on when things do arise, like if my heart starts pumping."

The institute is now partnering with the V.A. and other veterans groups to extend the services to more returning female soldiers.

"The biggest thing when they're returning when they're back to life?is just time and the options to find what works best for us," said Swords to Plowshares' Starlyn Lara.

The institute has started a fund to help cover the cost of treatment and hopes to help grow the program in the next coming months. In the meantime, Gyi has begun another alternative therapy offered by the institute: Painting.

"That gave me hope, and with hope I gained strength," Gyi said.

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