— Derek Auguste, a former Army sergeant, is used to
following instructions. So by the time yoga instructor Molly
Birkholm finished her relaxation session, he was at ease.
was one of 40 or so military veterans and community members
practicing yoga and relaxation techniques at Warrior
Wednesday, a monthly forum hosted by United Way of Miami-Dade
as part of its Mission United veterans support group.
topics have included transitioning back into civilian society
and employment. The October session was devoted to
mindfulness, a meditative technique that focuses on the
present moment, through yoga.
that can help me deal with my anxiety is worth learning how to
apply," Auguste said.
co-founder of Warriors at Ease — a yoga practice intended to
help veterans deal with stress, trauma and combat injuries —
led the group through a meditation session and Q-and-A
discussion. Civilians and veterans alike found themselves
dealing with common issues: busy minds and restless nights.
noise in my head just wouldn’t shut up," said one
participant after the session. Heads around the room nodded.
to Mission United vice chair Tomas Erban, finding mutual
ground through shared experiences is the goal. He said he
wants the forums to help active-duty members and military
veterans re-acclimate to civilian life through interacting
with community members.
was very impressed with the level of honesty," Erban said
of previous sessions. "It (gives) the veterans a chance
to get together and discuss different issues that impact
who served in Iraq and Haiti, said the sessions have helped
him deal with the sense of isolation he felt after leaving the
felt alone a lot of the times. I thought I was going through
it by myself."
says, he’s learned there is a community for him.
thing that heals all of us is community," Birkholm said
during her yoga session. "This community needs each
other. This is yoga as well."
the session, Auguste said he felt more rested and less
Lynch, Mission United’s director and a former major in the
U.S. Marine Corps, said he plans on continuing the Warrior
Wednesdays each month. The next session will feature Amishi
Jha, a University of Miami associate professor of psychology
who has done a lot of work with veterans and mindfulness
inspiring and refreshing to see so many people in Miami come
around for their veterans," Lynch said.