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Program offers healing to ‘Forgotten Soldiers’

Vietnam Veteran says anger was burden on life
By: Bridget Jones, Journal Staff Writer
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A program that will soon be celebrating its first anniversary offers local veterans a chance to repair their bodies, minds and souls. The Forgotten Soldier Program is offered through the Healing Light Institute on Fortune Court in Auburn. Founder Donna Arz, who runs the Healing Light Institute, said the program helps veterans continue their lives after they come home. “(It helps to) fill in the cracks (in their lives), so no one is ever forgotten,” Arz said. “(It makes sure) that they are recognized, they have a place to heal mind, body and soul. (It helps them) find a way to have a new beginning, learn self-care. (It’s) to help them find their real identities … and to help them incorporate themselves into civilian life again.” Forgotten Soldier began in October 2009 when Arz, who practices various methods of healing at the institute including acupressure and CranioSacral Therapy, realized veterans were not being taken care of upon their return home. “I realized there was a need,” Arz said. “I have many clients that are Vietnam veterans and they came in search of finding their lives, and I realized they needed help.” The program offers various types of healing treatments including holistic nutrition education, shamanic healing, acupuncture, acupressure, grief counseling and discussion, family and marriage counseling, art therapy, Chinese medicine, soul retrieval and more. A complete list can be found on the program’s website. Arz and the other volunteers who work for the nonprofit organization host events to educate the community, and veterans also participate in activities like martial arts, sailing and rafting. Forgotten Soldier has also helped homeless veterans find housing and helped with benefits and paperwork, Arz said. “We have resources,” Arz said. “If they need something and we can’t help them, we’ll be able to find who can.” Loomis resident Don Crisp served in the Coast Guard for 21 years. Crisp said he was dealing with a divorce that he didn’t want when he started with the program. Crisp said the program is helping him open doors to learn how to handle tough situations appropriately. “It’s an ongoing thing, but the burdens are slowly coming off,” Crisp said. “And if they are not coming off, they are easier to deal with.” Newcastle resident Richard Hunter served in the Marines from 1950-1954 and visits the institute to treat lasting health effects. Hunter said massage has already helped him in the few appointments he has had. “I have an aching stomach,” Hunter said. “Last time I came out of the office I felt a lot better, and it felt that way for four days. We are just trying anything and everything to take care of some of my physical problems.” Auburn resident Robert Gershon served in the Air Force from 1984-1988. Gershon said when he came home his life was falling apart. “This was kind of like the last house on the block for me,” Gershon said. “I was struggling with physical problems as well as mental problems, including addiction. (The treatment) has helped me to live life on life’s terms. I’ve been sort of encouraged to seek out some work, whether it’s volunteer or paid work. That’s been kind of great for my mind and my body that I have purpose.” Colfax resident John Morgan served in an Army combat unit during the Vietnam War. Morgan said he has been through two divorces, and his relationship with his current wife of 20 years wasn’t completely stable when he looked into Forgotten Soldier. Morgan has been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and said when he got home from the war he didn’t trust the Veterans Administration, because they were treating him like he didn’t deserve benefits. “The era I came home in, you were just basically thrown to the wolves,” Morgan said. Morgan said he was spit on when he stepped back onto American soil. Morgan said he saw so much death during the war that he became desensitized to it, and didn’t even react when several of his family members eventually passed away. “We have this wall built in front of use that says death is nothing,” he said. “You have come so close to death so many times, you know you have burned your life up.” Darcy Kauer, president of the Forgotten Soldier board of directors and retired colonel for the Marine Corps, said it doesn’t make sense to disregard a soldier’s emotional health, because it is affected so severely by combat. “When you kill in combat, every kill that you make, you kill a part of yourself,” Kauer said. “I have heard veterans say it’s part of your soul.” Morgan said anger was a huge issue for him after he came home. One day he threatened a teenager who was bumping a car into his. Morgan said he wouldn’t talk about being a veteran when he came home, and he was ashamed to wear his medals. It wasn’t until his son mounted the medals on the wall, that Morgan realized he needed to get help. “Given the life of indirect hell that I had given to my children … if he took the time to take time in finding out what the medals I earned meant, that if my son loved me (enough to do that), I could change my outlook,” he said. Gershon said he encourages all veterans who are hesitant to get help to look into the program. “Give it a shot,” he said. “You have nothing to lose, but everything to gain.” Reach Bridget Jones at bridgetj@goldcountrymedia.com ----------------------------------------------------- The Forgotten Soldier Program What: A program that helps veterans deal with physical and emotional stresses through various treatments. Where: The Healing Light Institute, 3215 Fortune Court, Auburn Website: forgottensoldierprogram.org Cost: Free Call: (530) 889-2300