When 39-year Army veteran Tom heard about Warrior PATHH (Progressive & Alternative Training for Helping Heroes) at the Travis Mills Foundation, he knew it was coming at a perfect time in his life and that it was a program that had everything he was looking for:
· The week-long experience is shared with up to seven other combat veterans and/or first responders who have been through similar experiences.
· The program isn’t characterized as therapy, and it isn’t run by clinicians – it’s run by expert PATHH Guides who are also combat veterans and/or first responders who have completed the program.
· The program teaches wellness practices that participants can use for the rest of their lives, and it also gives them a support system they can lean on.
Tom, a Georgia resident, said as soon as he arrived at the Foundation in the Belgrade Lakes Region of Maine, he knew he was in the right place.
“Almost immediately I felt a weight lifted off my shoulders,” he said.
Tom’s PATHH Experience
Warrior PATHH training is held once a month at the Travis Mills Foundation, and each module in the program is the same for each class. Tom’s class, the 18th taught at the Foundation since it was instituted in 2019, found the labyrinth especially meaningful.
“I got very emotional,” Tom said. “Other guys felt the same way.”
In the labyrinth, participants are asked to pick up a rock to represent the emotional weight that they are carrying, and they walk the
labyrinth with their fellow classmates. Students eventually meet their teammates in the center of the labyrinth and leave together, their baggage staying behind.
“We all felt that it was pretty inspiring and meaningful,” Tom added.
The Warrior PATHH program offers a workbook and other books meant to inspire and teach participants how to “struggle well.”
“I did all of it,” Tom said. “I read, took notes, and immersed myself in the program. I believe you have to do that for the program to work.”
Tom found PATHH’s “Own the Morning” module especially helpful. This instruction encourages participants to establish a morning routine that can include anything from journaling to the practice of transcendental meditation, which is taught to all participants in Warrior PATHH.
He attributes Warrior PATHH’s success to the accountability it encourages and the experience of the Guides; each PATHH Guide has completed the program – they’ve been in the same place as participants. Tom believes the Guides’ credibility, in addition to their passion for the program, makes all the difference.
Part of Warrior PATHH’s mission is service to others, and Tom is taking the program’s message to any combat veteran or first responder who he sees struggling.
“I would recommend it for any veteran who is struggling with emotional issues of any kind,” he said, reiterating the importance of the service component of the program.
“We receive all this great training and leadership experience in the military. There’s no reason why we can’t turn all of our skills towards helping others out there. Everybody can be an expert PATHH Guide. If you work on yourself, you’ll be ready and able to help others.”