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Yoga class at Venice American Legion gives veterans alternative treatment for PTSD

Wounded Warrior Yoga
Posted at 2:33 PM, Nov 09, 2021
and last updated 2021-11-09 17:54:17-05

VENICE, Fla — American Legion NO-VEL Post 159 in Venice is offering free yoga classes to veterans and their families as part of Operation Warrior Resolution.

"When I come here, it's kind of like my religion almost to me," said Danielle Merkel, a U.S. Army veteran who participates in Tuesday morning yoga classes.

Merkel served in Iraq as a medic and Blackhawk pilot.

"After about 15 years of being retired and having lots of pain and depression and anxiety. I had no desire to really live anymore, it was pretty bad," said Merkel.

"Trying to find the appropriate care through the VA was really challenging," said Kendra Simpkins, an army veteran.

Simpkins said she needed help fighting depression, anxiety, and PTSD after her service overseas.

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"Each time I would meet with a therapist, I really wasn’t noticing much difference so I just got to a point where I said, 'There’s got to be something else out there. There’s got to be something better where I can truly find relief and no longer suffer the way I was suffering,'" said Simpkins.

The journey to find a better way led Simpkins to start Operation Warrior Resolution, an organization providing alternative mental health treatments, therapy, and retreats to veterans and their family members. One of those treatments includes yoga.

"I don’t really know why it’s so popular. I think each person has their own individual reason for coming here," said Don MacLean with American Legion Post 159.

The free yoga class accepts donations as part of Operation Warrior Resolution.

"Yoga is known to reduce blood pressure, heart rate, stress, anxiety," said Merkel.

She credits the program for helping to save her life.

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"It’s like another puzzle piece to me getting better and becoming that person I’ve also wanted to be," said Merkel.

For more information about Operation Warrior Resolution:

For more information about American Legion NO-VEL Post 159: