What is PTSD?


Working Together


From a Veteran at WLO, “I came home from active duty and said I was fine.  I truly thought I was fine.  It wasn’t until years later that I realized how sick I was.  I had heard about PTSD, but another Vet’s story compared to mine gave me no reason to complain.  My friends and family kept saying I had changed, and I found myself isolating myself.  I was self medicating, wasn’t sleeping, wasn’t eating and my relationships were all a mess.  I soon realized that I needed help.  I had shame at my inability to cope and didn’t understand how I could have thrived under pressure, and now that I was out of war and high stress, I was worse off.  I was always the strong one and felt ashamed that I couldn’t be the strong one this time.  I had to leave my job to get full time treatment and get reconnected again.  I had to learn how to be me.”


A significant number of veterans returning from active duty combat face a new enemy upon returning home. Often called the silent killer, PTSD wreaks havoc on the lives of countless veterans, resulting in drug and alcohol use, homelessness, domestic violence and suicide.  The National Center for PTSD reports, “11-20 out of every 100 Veterans who served in Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) or Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) have PTSD in a given year.”  We now have Operation New Dawn (OND) as well and many combat Veterans coming home from overseas. 

PTSD does not only encompass war trauma, but military sexual trauma (MST).  The National Center for PTSD reports, “23 out of every 100 women have reported sexual assault and 38 out of 100 men have reported sexual harassment.”  MST does not only affect women, but men as well, leaving the transitioning military population stranded and needing help when they leave the military. If PTSD and PTS are silent, then where does that leave us with the taboo subject of Military Sexual Trauma?  If a Veteran surfaces for assistance, available treatments are often inadequate, outdated, or simply ineffective. 

At WLO we believe the system needs exposure not to the trauma, but to what is working well in life, or what is safe or even joyful.  To treat combat and sexual trauma efficiently one must receive several treatments of therapy a month or even a week.  Not only do they need alternative treatments that address the fullness of who they are and the struggle they face, but also, who they dream of being after military life.  This means using treatments that are holistic and integrative in healing the mind, body, heart and spirit. 

Combat Veterans simply are not receiving the regular care they need, and/or being given the best and up to date therapies for combating PTSD.  This, in essence, leaves our young Veterans who dedicated their lives to helping others with few opportunities to help themselves.

Some Signs of PTSD


  • Marriage and family relationships.  If there’s one symptom that impacts families and marriages more than any other, it’s irritability and sudden, unexplained anger. It’s the hair-trigger temper, the intolerance for even the smallest of problems and the determination to make major issues out of minor ones.
  • Absent from major life events. A veteran suffering from PTSD will often have trouble with crowds and miss special occasions such as weddings, graduations, birthdays, reunions, funerals, etc.
  • Trouble on the job. PTSD can cause a veteran to have trouble with memory, concentration or clear thinking. It may cause states of hyperarousal or hypervigilance which leads to workplace distractions. PTSD sufferers may also feel “over-controlled” by a boss which can render them more vulnerable to stress reactions on the job leading to increased absence or disappearance from their work station.
  • Self-doubt. Warriors with PTSD will doubt their skills, the sufficiency of their actions in combat, and the correctness of the life-death decisions they have made. They doubt the value of what they themselves have sacrificed, whether it was right to go to war, if they acted properly by firing or not firing their weapons and they doubt their role in their own families, communities and their units. They also doubt their very acceptability before God.
  • Re-experiencing the traumatic events.  Flashbacks, recurrent nightmares and undesired recollections and thoughts; emotional and body reactions to smells, sounds, sights and internal physical feelings; intense distress at exposure to things or events that are in some way similar to the traumas that were actually experienced.
  • Chronic Pain.  This is a big one. Migraines, constant neck, back pain, Gastro-intenstinal issues, fibromyalgia, sleeping too much, sleeping too little can all be signs of a system out of balance. We simply want to work to get that system back into alignment

*It’s important to note that these are just some of the symptoms of PTSD. For a more complete list of PTSD symptoms, visit: https://www.ptsd.va.gov/public/PTSD-overview/basics/index.asp

WLO - Our Approach to PTSD

Our Approach to PTSD


There are over 1.7 million U.S. veterans that have circulated through Iraq and Afghanistan over the past 10 years. The challenges of returning home can vary from person to person. However, the majority of resources available to these individuals are standardized and focus on cognitive processing and cognitive behavioral therapy. There is a serious lack of holistic therapies that address PTSD with a complete and personalized mind, body and spirit approach.

Trauma causes damage to the mind but also to the body. While cognitive treatment is necessary and valuable, trauma must first be addressed through the body. Too many therapies only focus on healing the brain by altering cognitions or behavioral patterns; however, the body is where trauma is held. 

WLO is here to revolutionize therapies for PTSD through alternative, holistic approaches to healing for combat veterans with PTSD.

WLO’s programs take veterans out of their post-deployment surroundings in order to teach a new way of living and to eliminate or ease the symptoms of PTSD. We offer sensory, somatic and movement therapies and trainings that may include adventure activities, overnight retreats, nutritional education, meditation, yoga, community building, therapy with animals, and other alternative therapies. These approaches are aimed not just at the mind, but at the whole person (body, mind and spirit). WLO aims to help each individual heal from a traumatic situation by addressing all areas of the mind and body, not just a singular issue. This is accomplished by providing a well-rounded approach to healing that encompasses multiple modes of healing in order to address all aspects of the human experience.

WLO utilizes a unique approach in treating the epidemic of PTSD. Rather than providing cookie-cutter, group therapy classes and standard treatments, WLO engages veterans through a variety of individualized treatments designed to address their specific needs through caring, compassionate mental health counselors and holistic practitioners, whose experience with PTSD enables them to provide more effective support. The goal is to help veterans receive the help they need to help regain emotional and psychological stability.  Helping to teach the Veteran a new “lifestyle” and way of being after combat is our aim.  A life they achieve, dream and start to live completely.  This means one on one contact and care, along with time spent getting to know our Veterans.  Veterans need to develop relationships with those who can help them step through each day.