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Government Turns to Alternative Therapies to Help Vets

Posted: September 3, 2008

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Silence from the demons of the Vietnam War is what Louie Naple seeks during the yoga classes.

"Sometimes it gets so real, I can see the combat. Anything can set it off - a sound or a smell," said Naple, 62, who served two tours in Vietnam with the Marine Corps. "Yoga helps me feel calm when I'm here and it keeps my mind from wandering."

Practitioners of yoga, an ancient Hindu practice of meditation through controlled breathing, balancing and stretching, have touted its benefits to relieve stress and trauma. Even soldiers in Iraq have caught on to the discipline with reports of troops doing yoga aboard aircraft carriers and on the ground.

A RAND Corporation study released earlier this year found that 19% of the approximately 1.6 million U.S. military personnel who have served in Iraq or Afghanistan suffer from symptoms of PTSD.

Matthew Friedman, the executive director of the VA's National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, said the government's desire to find scientific proof that yoga and holistic therapies benefit PTSD sufferers is a positive move.