Wellness Works gives veterans a helping hand
Organization offers treatment, place to interact for military veterans.
U.S. Marines veteran Nick Coughlin, left, and U.S. Army veteran Norma Yaris enjoy cake and fruit as they talk during the nonprofit group Wellness Works' open house and BBQ at their location on the 500 block of W. Broadway Ave. in Glendale on Saturday, Dec. 21, 2013. (Raul Roa / Staff Photographer / December 21, 2013)
A sign above the driveway reads, “Welcome Home Veterans... and Thanks!” About 100 veterans come home to Wellness Works on a regular basis for treatment and a sense of community.
Former Marine Patrick Ignacio served in southeast Asia. One of the newer clients, Ignacio has been coming to the facility since late November and tries to take advantage of all the services offered.
“Acupressure, acupuncture and the vet's support group are all important,” said Ignacio.
He said one of his favorite clinics is the weekly writing group. Ignacio said he and other veterans feel more comfortable expressing deep emotions in these sessions because it is not a government program.
“It's very different than a V.A. program,” Ignacio said. “Vets are more likely to open up. I really feel blessed to be here.”
Cofounders Mary Lu Coughlin and Nancy Rez, a nurse who died in 2008, wanted to put their holistic healing skills to work for the community and started the clinic on Chevy Chase in the mid-1980s.
“We treated cancer patients using yoga, acupuncture and counseling. We began treating AIDS patients at our current location in the 1990s,” said Coughlin.
She said the organization saw a need among veterans suffering from Post-Traumatic Stress Syndrome and brain injuries and have focused their energy on them since 2007.
Eric Fleming served in the Army during the Gulf War in 1991. Fleming has been coming to Wellness Works for three years. He believes the weekly acupuncture treatments have helped his PTSD and sleep disorder.
“The treatments are tailored to the individual and the volunteers have years of experience,” said Fleming. “They continue to check on my eating and sleeping patterns and give us exercises to do at home.”
Fleming enjoys the community and safety of the facility.
“You don't have to hide or do it by yourself anymore,” he said.
Kathy Lynch is the clinical director of the organization and has a master's degree in human development.
“We believe in a balanced treatment of mind and soul as well as the body,” said Lynch.
Recently they have added Acu-Prana to their list of healing clinics. Acu-Prana uses energy to block the flow of pain from the brain. Holistic healer Lingfei Hui volunteers her expertise for the service.
Harvey Glen served in Vietnam during the Tet offensive as a member of the Navy Mobile Riverines. Glen is working on his master's in marriage and family counseling, specializing in veterans and PTSD at the University of Phoenix, and doing an internship at the facility.
Glen chose Wellness Works after calling the 150 facilities around the state.
“This is the only one of the 150 that works with veterans,” said Glen.
Lynch said that their goal is to give the vets the tools to help themselves when they are away.
“It is a labor of love, but we definitely need community support.”
Sal Polcino is a freelance writer.
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