VA Palo Alto Health Care System
Men's Trauma Recovery Program (MTRP)
Fitness and Wellness Programs
Fitness and Wellness Programs are a vital part of MTRP programming. Offerings include:
Paws for Purple Hearts
"Paws for Purple Hearts" pairs the residents with gentle canines from the Assistance Dog Institute, a nonprofit that pioneered the training of service dogs to aid disabled Veterans.
Service dogs of various breeds, such as golden retrievers and labs, are trained by Veterans who have experienced trauma related to their combat duty. Many of these residents participate in this program as part of their rehabilitation. The process of training and nurturing the young dogs complements other types of VA treatments and therapy and the mission of the VA..
Upon completion of the program, the dogs are transferred to Veterans who have suffered physical injuries, losses, and other medical challenges. These dogs have facilitated emotional healing; the participants' testimonials attest to how their lives have been altered in positive ways due to their canine warrior connection, which offers our wounded Veterans an ongoing life-enhanced support system.
Read a related article in Smithsonian.com: How Dogs Can Help Veterans Overcome PTSD
Cycling to Recovery
The MTRP focuses on a holistic bio-psycho-social approach to recovery from PTSD. One of the ways the program supports this is through bicycling to help build more avenues to address symptoms of PTSD, such as isolation, depression, avoidance, anxiety, and building relationships with others. Veterans who have participated in cycling programs have decreased their symptoms of PTSD as well as discovered a path to reconnect with their community when they discharge.
The MTRP leads organized cycling activities and occasional weekend group rides, logging thousands of miles.
Therapeutic art directives and materials are provided to group members which directly engage their goals for treatment. Group members create their own projects according to the directive and with the mediums offered and include their values, goals, thoughts, and emotions. They are offered a time to share their projects and discuss the outcome which assists to integrate learning and facilitate expression.
A series of 7 Wellness Classes is provided to all Men’s Trauma Recovery participants. PowerPoint slides, handouts, and discussion are used to educate about disease, prevention and treatment, with an emphasis on prevention. Subjects covered include: Smoking Cessation, Sexually Transmitted Diseases, Diabetes, High Blood Pressure, Hepatitis-C, Cardio-vascular Disease, High Cholesterol, Pain Management, Healthy Diet, Weight Management, Cancer, and Metabolic Syndrome. Our Walking Program provides pedometers to residents to encourage Increased activity.