After experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) upon retiring from the U.S. Army, a veteran launched a martial arts “fight club” to aid other veterans to address their own issues.
Veteran Todd Vance served in the army, beginning after the attacks on September 11 until his retirement in 2005. In service, he led over 250 missions as a squad leader. But, when he returned home, he began to flounder when back in society.
In an interview with CNN, Vance noted that he was excited to leave the service and get back home. But it wasn’t long before things began to overwhelm him. “At first, it was all elation. I was just happy to be alive and happy to be out of the military,” Vance said. “Slowly but surely, reality was setting in about what I had seen and what I had done.”
It wasn’t long before Vance was drinking too much. He became withdrawn but eventually decided something had to change.
After his diagnosis with PTSD, Vance began training in martial arts, and said it changed his life. “It gave me the structure, the discipline, the camaraderie, the routine that I needed to have in my life that I was missing so much from the military. Before training, I had no reason not to drink until 3 in the morning. I was training six days a week, often two times a day, and eating clean, ” he said.
Soon, the veteran began to wonder if his experience could be replicated by others who suffer PTSD.
By 2012 Vance had created Pugilistic Offensive Warrior Tactics (P.O.W.), a non-profit organization aimed at helping soldiers address their symptoms of PTSD and to adjust back to civilian life.
“Martial arts is focused on technique and fitness. … We have served more than 275 veterans, and all the success stories we have is a testament to the effectiveness of the program,” Vance said. “We see people get right out of the military, they’re young, they’re a mess, they don’t have any employment or social skills. Two or three years later, they are working on their master’s degree.”
Vance says his group works well for those who commit to the program. A study of 30 participants showed a 90 percent improvement in physical health and an 80 percent relief of symptoms of PTSD.
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