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$110K state VA grant helps establish veterans recovery, wellness program in Chippewa Falls

The Chippewa Herald - 6/8/2024

Jun. 8—Chippewa Falls veterans are benefiting from a $111,000 grant awarded to two area businesses working to help former service members heal from trauma.

Ashley Swartz of Nurturing Roots Therapy and Carla Cooper of The Zaniya Center collaborated to develop the Veterans Trauma Recovery and Wellness Program, an initiative aimed at providing comprehensive, intensive and free support for veterans struggling with trauma-related issues.

The program recently received the large grant from the Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs.

"Our grant is used to provide all of the listed services to any military member needing some help releasing past, or present, trauma," Cooper said. "This is an intense program designed to foster long-lasting results."

The Wisconsin Emergency-Crisis Mental Health Treatment Program for Veterans Grant was awarded to Nurturing Roots Therapy and The Zaniya Center in Chippewa Falls for their collaborative program to serve western Wisconsin veterans.

Cooper works with veterans on a physical level and said she sees firsthand their mental health struggles.

"Since I am not a talk therapist I threw the idea around with Ashley about collaborating on my idea of helping the whole body. And our Trauma Recovery and Wellness Program was born," Cooper said.

Cooper said trauma is physically stored in the body. Although she can work on a tight area through massage, if there is an emotion held in the body, that tightness almost always returns.

"Our program was developed to encompass the body as a whole — not just the emotional or physical, but all of it," she said.

Swartz said she was excited about the collaboration that works to address the range of issues that trauma causes.

"As a mental health therapist specializing in trauma modalities, I witness firsthand the profound impact trauma has on our bodies," Swartz said. "Recognizing the whole-body experience and integrating therapy with holistic modalities can greatly aid in treating trauma responses."

Swartz said bodies retain the imprints of past traumas, manifesting as chronic pain, physical ailments and psychological disorders.

"By addressing both the mental and physical aspects of trauma, the Veterans Trauma Recovery and Wellness Program aims to create a nurturing and supportive environment," Cooper said. "This program is designed with the understanding that healing is a deeply personal journey, and it seeks to honor each veteran's unique experiences and needs."

The program will feature a rolling enrollment format, allowing a maximum of 24 participants to join at any time between now and December 2024.

Group Conversation sessions will start in September and are open to any military member.

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(c)2024 The Chippewa Herald, Chippewa Falls, Wisc.

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