Tacoma chapter of REBOOT Combat Recovery heals the soul and inspires

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The first graduating class of the 12-week course celebrated their big day on Dec. 14. Photo courtesy of REBOOT Combat Recovery

The Tacoma-based chapter of REBOOT Combat Recovery, a program rooted in Christian principles that helps soldiers heal their soul wounded by post traumatic stress disorder, graduated its first class on Thursday, Dec. 14 at the Letterman Auditorium at Madigan Hospital.

In all, 17 individuals and their spouses, representing different walks of life, graduated the 12-week course.

For Michael Johnson, the facilitator of the program, the graduation served as validation that the pilot program can be successful elsewhere. Johnson said there are now plans to start a chapter north of Seattle in Everett; three chapters in the greater Pierce County area; and three in the greater Thurston County area.

“We want to keep the momentum going without any interference,” Johnson, a retired U.S. Army active duty and reservist, said. “We want to be able to graduate the next class before the first of June.”

The next 12-week course at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, hosted by the Warrior Transition Battalion, will start Feb. 1.

REBOOT got its start in 2011 at Fort Campbell in Kentucky. Founded by occupational therapist Dr. Jenny Owens, the crux of the program focuses on healing the spirt and soul of the individual. Since PTSD not only impacts the individual but also loved ones, REBOOT serves the whole family. In most cases, meals and childcare are provided, and spouses are encouraged to attend and be part of the healing process.

Johnson has experienced first-hand the process of healing from PTSD. Since exiting the military, he has made it his life’s work to collaborate with different programs that bring healing and hope to individuals.

“What I have enjoyed about REBOOT is the collaborative effort of partnering with other pieces,” Johnson said. “It focuses on the soul. It works in collaboration with behavioral health counseling.

It’s not like we have all the answers. We get to the healing of the soul wound. This is the fruit that I’m producing and what is the root that I’m planted in. (REBOOT) looks at the behavior or the fruit of my beliefs, because it’s rooted in this aspect. I thought this was a healthy approach.”

Johnson said the three tenets of REBOOT are community, bringing family together, and the fostering of service and contribution that encourages those who have graduated from the program to pay it forward and facilitate their own chapters.

An example of this last tenet is exemplified strongly by the fact that the seven chapters set to start in 2018 in King, Pierce, and Thurston counties, were all started and promoted by graduates in the first class at JBLM.

Two graduates in particular, Eric Scott and his wife, Ellen, are planning to facilitate a new chapter at River Ridge Covenant Church, their home church in Lacey. The first class will begin next August.

Scott, a retired Air Force active duty and reservist, became interested in REBOOT when he read an article in The Ranger newspaper previewing the upcoming class at JBLM.

“It seemed like a good opportunity to get involved in something to help the veteran community,” Scott said. “We found out there was a class starting, and we thought that could lead us into getting a group of our own started.”

Though Scott has not suffered from PTSD, he has been married twice before and says divorce is its own unique kind of trauma. The way REBOOT is designed, how it focuses on the healing of the soul utilizing Christian principles, Scott believes individuals struggling through different kinds of trauma, not just PTSD, can benefit. Scott said the program helped him a lot. It also helped his wife who was married once before.

“Our divorces were a traumatic happening in our lives,” Scott said. “It’s a sense of loss, and it was a wounding of who we are.”

To learn more about REBOOT, visit rebootrecovery.com.

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