My journey started back in July, 2008 when I was residing in Vicenza, Italy as a military spouse. I remember tears streaming down my face when I heard about the loss of nine additional “Sky Soldiers” of the 173rd Airborne Brigade. They had already suffered such terrible losses since July 2007. That was the moment my heart sank low and my heart said it was time for me to join the military.
I joined the U.S. Army in 2009 and began working in the intelligence field. My first deployment to the Middle East was not only an eye-opening experience but full of visions I will never be able to erase from my mind. No one should ever have to endure what service members go through during deployments. It’s very painful to talk about. After we redeployed, we continued to support the mission from Joint Base Lewis McChord in Washington. We were doing reach back missions and intelligence analysis from our location for units forward deployed in Afghanistan.
I suffered from chronic pain, migraines, Traumatic Brain Injury and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. I have also experienced Military Sexual Trauma. I was medically retired from the Army in 2013. I was depressed, not taking care of myself and struggled with my self worth daily. The medications and guinea pig treatments I received didn’t help the situation. Nothing seemed to help me become “me” again. One day my friends at the McVeigh Fitness Center on base suggested I try yoga. I did, and not only did I get physically stronger, but I got mentally and emotionally stronger as well. Getting my sense of self back and developing my awareness truly opened my eyes to a whole new life.
As both a veteran and a spouse to an active duty Army soldier, I knew yoga was something I wanted give back to the military community. I want to be able to give to active duty soldiers something I didn’t have while I was serving – a tool to prevent training injuries, increase mental clarity and improve well-being. In 2017, I earned my 200 hour Yoga Teacher Training Certification from Yoga Hawaii and completed Warriors at Ease Level 1 and 2 training. Now I am teaching yoga to soldiers, health care providers, and military families of the 25th Infantry Division at Schofield Barracks and at Tripler Army Medical Center in Hawaii. I also teach yoga classes to veterans at the Spark M. Matsunaga VA Medical Center and volunteer for The Mission Continues. As a Warriors at Ease Teacher, I have a renewed sense of purpose and an opportunity to make a meaningful impact in the military and veteran communities.
Joan M Benitez-Martinez, U.S. Army Veteran
World at Ease DBA Warriors at Ease is a 501(c)(3) organization. Warriors at Ease is not endorsed by Department of Defense or the Department of Veterans Affairs. This content represents the views of the individual and does not imply endorsement of any government entity.
Joan teaches 12 weekly yoga classes and supports numerous special events that serve the robust military and veteran communities in Hawaii. She is featured in this article called Yoga Classes Helping to Put “Warriors at Ease” published by U.S. Army Warrior Care & Transition.