At a time of year when many of us have just spent a day celebrating our nation’s freedom and independence, I am reminded of all those who have served and sacrificed to bring us these freedoms. It is from this place and a place of personal connection that I share with you the incredible work of The Warrior Connection (TWC), an organization that holds retreats to help both male and female combat veterans overcome PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and/or MST (Military Sexual Trauma).
This is the story of why Cup of Life Healing Center supports TWC. It is the telling of a journey that comes from my authentic heart and something I’ve never shared so publicly before. It is a story of a little girl who longed for her daddy to heal. She found deep healing, understanding, peace, and inner wisdom through the work of TWC. That little girl lives inside me.
I am the child of a Vietnam veteran and I tell this story for children of veterans and veterans everywhere in hopes that they too may know that deep healing is possible and literally just a phone call away.
I want to be very clear from the start – I hold no ill regard for my father. On the contrary, I know beyond a shadow of doubt that he always did the very best he could with the tools he had at the time. My heart embraces him with the greatest and warmest regard, with unconditional love, compassion, and respect. I will always be thankful that he unknowingly taught me the true value of this work.
Like many young men from the Vietnam era, my father responded to the call of the draft. He served in the US Army Special Forces Group, a Green Beret. Like so many who have seen combat, he returned from war with internal wounds that run deep to the core. One of my strongest childhood memories is experiencing the intensity of the flashbacks and nightmares that haunted his dreams. Witnessing these and other pains impressed upon my heart, the utmost desire for my father to be freed from these inner demons and my own inner longing to understand. As a young child, I did not know his wounds were not my burden to bear.
Just over two years ago, I sat for 5 days in cardiac ICU, watching my father on full life support, after 8 hours of open heart surgery. I’ve sat by my father’s hospital bedside many times in my life for varying medical issues. But in these 5 days, I truly did not know whether he would live or die. This initiated a healing process that continues to this day. In those 5 days, I resolved to show my father my unconditional love and acceptance, even though I did not understand what he’d been through. I had no idea at the time, that this was just the beginning.
18 months later, this past October, I received a call from one of my Reiki students who happened to be a graduate of TWC. She told me Reiki healers were needed at one of the men’s retreats. I knew in an instant that I must go. I had no idea saying “yes” to that one simple request would spark not one, but two inner callings. First was the calling to do my own deeper healing work around this aspect of my life, to move beyond acceptance to a true understanding. And second, a calling to share healing work with veterans, to be a part of the solution.
When I arrived at TWC for the first time, I had no idea what to expect. What I found blew me away, left me speechless. I met a room full of veterans from varying branches of service, having seen combat in many different wars and conflicts. It was no mistake that there were two Vietnam veterans among the group, one of which had served in a very similar capacity to my father. What I experienced the moment I walked through the doors of TWC was a room full of men, all with opening hearts and clearly in the process of deep soulful healing–veterans on a path to discovering deeper peace and inner wisdom! The sight instantly challenged my idea of the depth of healing that is possible.
I found myself caught off guard, surprised, and choked up for words when simply mentioning that my father had served. Until that moment, it had not occurred to me that I have rarely spoken about this part of my childhood, much like my father rarely spoke of his experiences in Vietnam. I knew right then and there, that I must pursue this work and support this organization. I knew in my core that something magical was going on in this beautiful home in rural Vermont. I have been volunteering in some capacity ever since.
After many months of volunteering behind the scenes, the pull to do even more was so strong; I could no longer ignore my heart’s desire. So, I entered into the process of training to become a certified TWC Retreat Facilitator. I participated in a men’s warrior retreat as a Level I facilitator trainee. Not only did I witness the incredible, deep healing of a group of veterans, but my own personal healing journey began to unfold as well. This continued throughout the second phase just this past weekend when I attended the official facilitator training course.
It was during this second training weekend that I discovered and healed the hole in my little girl’s heart; one I had not consciously known was there. I experienced fully some of the very processes the veterans do during the TWC retreats. As a result, I was given a gift, a piece of my Soul back that I didn’t even realize was covered. It is from this newly whole place that I share this story and from this place that I am honored to continue to serve those who have served.
This is my story and how I and Cup of Life have come to wholeheartedly support the incredible work of TWC
TWC’s motto is “No Soul Left Behind.” They say, “While the mission is over, the inner journey continues…” This truly is a place that serves the overall well-being of veterans and their families. The retreats are all done in a small group setting and virtually at no cost to the veteran. This is one of the most authentic greater good organizations I have ever seen!
****About The Warrior Connection****
The Warrior Connection (TWC), is a Vermont-based, Veteran lead nonprofit. TWC’s mission is to improve the overall well-being of our Veterans and their families. TWC hosts residential retreats and provides services to our Veterans and their families, helping them recover and heal from the invisible injuries incurred while in uniform.
Since 2010, The Warrior Connection has been working diligently with Veterans to decrease the negative impacts of Post-Traumatic Stress (PTSD), Military Sexual Assault (MST), heal moral injuries, and reduce both suicide and divorce.
For more information about TWC, donate, or to inquire about their healing retreats, please contact Aaron Phillips, TWC’s Executive Director: firstname.lastname@example.org or call 866-278-3155.