How the SpartanNash Foundation Supports the Warriors at Ease Mission

How the SpartanNash Foundation Supports the Warriors at Ease Mission

Now more than ever disabled veterans as well as ill, injured or wounded service members are finding health and healing through yoga and meditation.  Thanks to our worldwide network of over 800 yoga and meditation teachers and partners such as the SpartanNash Foundation, Warriors at Ease is sharing evidence-based, trauma-sensitive mind-body practices with over 16,000 service members, veterans, and their families in the U.S. and abroad annually.

Yoga and meditation can serve as an effective approach to addressing the wounds of war and Military Sexual Trauma, healing service-connected injuries, and supporting the overall well-being of active duty service members and veterans. Scientific research shows that these practices can offer relief from symptoms of PTSD, TBI, and Moral Injury, as well as reduce chronic pain, improve sleep quality, improve stress management, enhance resiliency, increase mental focus, improve interpersonal communication skills and more.  

Warriors at Ease is dedicated to sharing yoga and meditation with service members, veterans and their families by 1) providing specialized training to yoga and meditation teachers and 2) by providing outreach in military and veteran communities.  Our approach to training teachers and providing outreach is grounded in a specific protocol that was first developed in 2006 when our founders participated in early research funded by Department of Defense (DoD) and Department of Veterans Affairs (VA).  This approach, which we’ve continued to develop over the past 12 years, established the foundation for the Train, Teach & Transform (T3) program which is funded in part by the SpartanNash Foundation.

Warriors at Ease at Intrepid Spirit

Alyson Rhodes (center), a yoga therapist at the Intrepid Spirit on Fort Bragg, N.C., leads an adaptive yoga session with her patients, Dec. 11, 2017. Rhodes provides patients with multiple mats, seated and standing options for each pose or movement during therapeutic yoga sessions. Use of various props are encouraged, and Rhodes gives a disclaimer that because each person has different injuries no one in the room should look identical during each session. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Paige Behringer)

The T3 program is an opportunity for veterans and military/veteran spouses to become Warriors at Ease teachers and community outreach coordinators through a year-long fellowship program.  Our proven “by the warrior community, for the warrior community” model for the T3 program is exemplified in Warriors at Ease teachers like Army Veteran Alyson Rhodes who shares yoga with warriors at the Fort Bragg Intrepid Spirit Center.  Her student, Sergeant Paige Behringer, who suffered a Traumatic Brain Injury says, “The greatest force in my healing path was Alyson Rhodes.”

Another shining example of our evidenced-based approach and unique model is in Vietnam Veteran David Patterson.  David is a Warriors at Ease teacher who volunteers his time sharing yoga with veterans of all generation at the James A. Haley VA Hospital in Tampa, Florida.  

David Patterson, center, at the Sivananda Bahamas Yoga Retreat for a Warriors at Ease training. Warriors at Ease Executive Director, left, and faculty member Annie Okerlin, right, both loved working with David and hearing how he brings yoga and meditation to others in his community.

Warriors at Ease is proud to support the health and healing of service members, veterans and their families, particularly those impacted by physical and mental health conditions as a result of their military service.  Yoga and meditation are easily adapted for any age, level of experience or physical ability.  Additionally, they are practices that can serve warriors and their families for life.  When we empower individuals with these mind-body tools, the impact is exponential and often life-changing. As the demand for complementary and integrative forms of therapy in military and veteran community increases, Warriors at Ease and our highly skilled teacher network stands ready to meet that demand thanks to the generous support of the SpartanNash Foundation and others.