Social workers, yoga instructors and wellness coaches invited veterans to the center, located at 102-06 Metropolitan Avenue, to take part in the Healing Our Vets program, a series of ongoing self-care courses aimed at tackling symptoms like flashbacks, nightmares, feelings of intense distress and even physical pain.
Linda Torres formally worked as a social worker with the Veterans Administration for 21 years and currently has a private practice at the Genesis Center to help veterans through emotional and physical education.
“While it is educational, the vets also go through a process to speak about how they are doing, how they are feeling and how their experience in the military has affected them,” Torres said. “There’s hope that with these tools and these techniques, we can help veterans with the symptoms of anxiety, depression or PTSD. They also develop a sense of community here.”
Vietnam War veteran Jabreel Morgan has been coming to the center for the last four months, and says the group has found a unique way to create a homely atmosphere while also addressing his own long-fought battle with bipolar disorder.
“Most doctors I don’t like, but I found this place to be very kind and loving,” Morgan said. “One of the best things they have brought me is laughter. I would rather laugh than fight with anybody.”
Since he first started coming to the center, Morgan says he got back into making artwork, exercising and has since lost nearly 15 pounds, something he says has added to his positive outlook on life.
“I do need to be more energetic than I am right now, but there were so many other things going on in my life that I didn’t give it much thought,” he said.
Wellness trainer Joy Jandhari runs the Operation Dare to Care component of the vets program at the center, focusing in on the mental health of their clients.
“We teach them emotional and social intelligence, referring to our relationships with ourselves, how we relate to them and how we relate to others,” Janhari said. “We teach them the simple skills that everybody needs in the workplace now.”
She explained that with the current knowledge of the way the body is physically affected by chemical reactions in the human brain, programs like the center’s PTSD Workshop, Dare to Care and a program for women vets can be crucial rebuilding elements.
“We know the nerve cortex, the thought process, has a lot to do with our primal phase of our emotions that run us,” she said. “When both are put together and orchestrated, we can make the best choices possible.”
For more information on joining the Genesis Society’s Healing Our Vets Program, contact program director Renè David Alkalay at (718) 544-5997.