Local Veteran Shares Story
Our friend Mike Hopp called the show this morning to say 'Hello' and tell us how he was truly moved that a woman came up to him at McDonald's yesterday, Veterans Day, and said, "Thank you for my freedom." Very touching and much appreciated.
Hopp served our nation in the 82nd Airborne Division of the US Army. Not long ago, he shared with me a powerful recent encounter. Hopp is among our many disabled Military Veterans who served in Iraq and Afghanistan. He was injured in combat on seven specific occasions and told me that he 'doesn't have very much of my mind left', as he deals with Traumatic Brain Injury, Post Traumatic Stress, Bi-Polar Disorder, Anxiety, Depression and as he says, 'a few other things'. He is in physical pain every day and doesn't sleep much anymore. Mike says that some of his injuries will heal, but the rest will be with him for a lifetime.
Mike recently needed repairs on his truck. As he waited for the mechanic, a man and his little girl walked into the waiting area. He said he knew right away that there was something different about the guy. When the man began talking to him, Mike realized that this man was The Enemy from years ago. Mike said his 'gut twisted in shock...had to get out of there', but the man was being so nice to him, he endured the two hours of waiting by talking to the guy and playing with the man's little girl.
Eventually the man was called to the Service Desk. When he came back to the waiting area, he extended his hand and looked Mike in the eye and said, "Sir, I want to thank you and all of your friends. THANK YOU for what you did to help us. I don't know what else to say but thanks from me and all my brothers and sisters. Thanks, Johnny...for getting me out 19 years ago to enjoy a better life."
Uncertain of what to do for a moment, Mike reached out his hand and said, "You're welcome from my brothers and sisters...and me."
About then, the little girl noticed the hole in the back of Mike's neck and she asked him what it what had happened to him.
Mike couldn't answer her.
Her father looked at it the deep groove in the back of Mike's neck and asked, "Is this where you were shot while helping my people?"
Mike said, "Yes."
The man began to cry.
Mike said, "Dude, it's OK. It was my job."
The man said, "I am sorry for all of your men and women who were injured...who didn't come home, just to help us." And he walked away.
Mike said, "This guy changed me a little bit. I will never forget this chance encounter to meet one of our enemy soldiers and be able to have a talk with him. It was as if God just tossed this man there next to me. I have to say at first, it was a bad feeling to talk to him, but over that time, we had a lot to talk about."
Mike said that he thinks some people may like his story, some may not; regardless, he means no disrespect to anyone. It just meant a lot to him.
With his numerous disabilities related to his service to our nation, Mike doesn't work outside of the home, but he has a home business called Hopp Paracord Creations. Find him on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/hoppparacordcreations. Great 'corporate gifts' or just cool treats for your friends and family. He often makes his bracelets and other items on those nights when sleep is elusive. That's a lot of nights.
I asked Mike if it was OK if I told his story and he encouraged me to please tell it, because it meant so much to him and he wanted to share it with others. Thought it might help someone else feel a little better, like it did for him.
I also want to share one of the treatments for PTSD that's been showing great success: Trauma-Sensitive Yoga.
My beloved friend Sonja Mattson-Barnes is a TSY teacher and recently posted this on her SonaEpona Facebook page:
UPDATES and News--
TCTSY is an evidence based adjunct therapy for treatment resistant PTSD. I have been meeting with legislators and policy makers to bring some awareness to the benefits of TCTSY and how it helps PTSD.
The last two years I have dedicated numerous hours working with hundreds of Veterans at the VA, not to mention countless children ages 5-17 at a residential facility and a large weekly class of developmentally disabled adults.
The work is compelling, humbling and my passion.
In December I will be opening a new yoga space in Okemos, as part of a clinical team. (TCTSY) needs to be performed with clinical support. By moving what I do into this setting it will allow me to offer more classes to people that can be supported.
PTSD affects about 7.7 million American adults in a given year, though the disorder can develop at any age including childhood.
In 2011, child protective services in the United States received 3.4 million referrals, representing 6.2 million children. Of those cases referred, about 19% were substantiated and occurred in the following frequencies (1).
more than 75 percent (78.5%) suffered neglect
more than 15 percent (17.6%) suffered physical abuse
less than 10 percent (9.1%) suffered sexual abuse
I am in the "thick" of my continued training with David Emerson of the Trauma Center at the Justice Resource Institute in Boston. Upon completion in April 2015 I will be one of 40 Trauma Center Trauma Sensitive Yoga teachers in the world that have been through the extensive 110 hour training.
Stay tuned, we are just getting started.