Jul 30, 2014

Do Yoga, Participate: Be a Part of Wounded Warriors Week

Do Yoga, Participate: Be a Part of Wounded Warriors Week Do Yoga, Participate: Be a Part of Wounded Warriors Week
By Lexy Stauffer

Earlier this summer on a Tuesday, at about 11:30 a.m. local time, a suicide bomber executed an attack on U.S. forces and local police outside of a boys’ high school in the Paktia province of eastern Afghanistan.

Attacks such as this happen very regularly throughout the country. When they do get reported on American media, most don’t think twice about it. It’s become the new normal: turn on the news, hear about another suicide bombing in the Middle East.

This particular attack, however, captured my attention: reports said that two US soldiers were killed.

Flash back to May 5, 2013. My brother Christian, a 2011 West Point graduate, 2012 Army Ranger School graduate, and current first lieutenant in the United States Army, along with hundreds of other men of all military rankings, board an airplane to Germany.

Then they board another one to Kyrgyzstan. A final flight takes them to Forward Operating Base (FOB) Gardez, in the Paktia province of eastern Afghanistan. There, he leads an infantry platoon of 25 men on combat patrols throughout the region.

Twenty-nine days later, a suicide bomber on a motorcycle sets off explosives outside of the local high school, with the knowledge that a combined U.S. Army-Afghan Local Police force was traveling in the area. The result of the explosion was deadly: 10 students, two US soldiers, and an Afghan Local Policeman. Several others were badly wounded.

The fallen U.S. soldiers included a platoon leader and a private from my brother’s battalion. Christian had to inventory all of the PL’s personal items and personally deliver them to Bagram Airfield (BAF), a larger base in the region, to then be flown back to the United States to be delivered to the soldier’s heartbroken family. Can you imagine?

Luckily this time, in this attack, Christian was unharmed. But someone else’s brother, son, father, husband, boyfriend, or other, was.

Among the soldiers wounded in this attack, only one was able to remain in Afghanistan and return to work the next day. The other half-dozen or so were flown to Germany, then onto Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Bethesda, MD. There they met up with their devastated, terrified families, and their recovery began. It includes multiple surgeries, months of physical therapy, prosthetic limbs, and post-traumatic stress.

For me and my family, there is no relief from the sharp anxiety surrounding Christian’s deployment. It is constant. It is exhausting in every sense. But what can we do?

Somehow, he is where he wants to be. He has spent all of the past six years preparing and training vigorously with the best military in the world. He is in good and capable hands. Christian is an incredibly smart and talented leader and I am so proud of him, his bravery, and his willingness to sacrifice. I am proud to be his sister.

I cannot do anything to protect him, though. As a fiercely protective little sister, this isn’t easy for me to deal with. All I can do is be supportive. So I decided to get creative with that responsibility.

I am organizing an event called Yoga Warriors Week to benefit the Wounded Warrior Project (WWP), to be held at Elements Yoga & Wellness Center in Darien.

The mission of WWP is to “honor and empower wounded warriors”, whether those wounds are physical, mental, emotional, or otherwise. The organization’s vision is to “foster the most successful, well-adjusted generation of wounded service members in our nation's history”, which we know is unfortunately a challenging task.

WWP has an extensive and impressive variety of programs structured to assist soldiers in their transition to civilian life. Please visit their website for more specific information: www.woundedwarriorproject.org.

Wounded Warrior Project makes a real difference in the lives of injured servicemen and women. Last December, one of my brother’s former West Point roommates serving in Afghanistan stepped on an improvised explosive device (IED) and lost both of his legs from the knees down, as well as several fingers from his left hand. He has benefitted greatly from the efforts of WWP, and speaks very enthusiastically of the support he received from the organization in his recovery.

Yoga Warriors Week, on behalf of the Wounded Warrior Project, will take place the week of Sept. 5-12, 2013. It will be of three parts: a running silent auction, a collection box for a care package to mail overseas to my brother and his platoon, and a by-donation, all-levels yoga class.

The silent auction will begin September 5 at the studio and will run for the entire week. Everyone is welcome to bid on a variety of prizes, including private yoga classes with Elements’ exceptional yoga instructors, massages with Elements’ talented massage therapists and body workers, gift certificates to local restaurants and businesses, and gift baskets compiled by local markets. There will be a variety of sweet goodies to bid on.

The care package collection box will also be set up for the entire week. In the weeks prior, a shopping list of suggested items to contribute will be available at the studio. At the end of the week, the items will be boxed and shipped to FOB Gardez, addressed to Baker Company, 4th Brigade Combat Team, 1-506th Infantry Regiment, 101st Airborne Division. The care package will show these men that people back home truly appreciate the sacrifices they make every single day.

Yoga Warriors Week will culminate with a by-donation yoga class. A sequence designed for all levels of yoga experience will be led by Elements Yoga owner Bruce Bassock, and I will be co-teaching with him. The class is scheduled for Thursday, September 12 at 6:15 pm, and we are hoping for a packed house.

I encourage you to participate in Yoga Warriors Week in any way that feels appropriate and meaningful to you. Please join me and the Elements team in honoring our warriors. As the motto of Wounded Warrior Project states, “The greatest casualty is being forgotten.”

For more information about the event or to get involved, please contact me directly: lexy@elementsyoga.com or 203-655-YOGA (9642). I also welcome you to visit the team at the studio, located at 354 Heights Road in Darien, CT. Also, please browse Elements Yoga's website for up-to-date studio information, special offerings, and schedules.

Editor's note: Lexy Stauffer is manager at Elements Yoga & Wellness Center in Darien.

Here's a list of items suggested for a care package.

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