Program helps female veterans cope with pain

What's Right With Tampa Bay

- Right in our back yard, there's a one-of-a-kind program to help female military veterans cope with pain. 

The James A Haley Veteran's Hospital Women's Center is offering a 12-week, holistic approach to dealing with personal issues. The program is called THRIVE and is designed to help female veterans connect with one another while dealing with life's struggles.

"I felt, if we did something better, so that they had a better perspective of themselves and more value of themselves, that their lives would be better and that, therefore, the people that they touch, their lives would be better," Dr. Jacquelyn Paykel explained of the program's objectives.

Carmen Collins participates in the program. She's a 23-year military veteran, but fell into depression after leaving the Army. Sharing her problems with her band of sisters has given her a new outlook on life.

"I couldn't get out of bed. I would go days without getting dressed," Collins recalled. "It brought me a sense of belonging again. A sense of someone understanding what I had been through."

The women work with a team to address their medical, mental health, and social issues, and support each other on their journeys.

Sila Regester spent 22 years in the military. The former drill sergeant couldn't sleep at night due to chronic back pain. She said the group has changed her life.

"It's a group that has now become a family," Regester said."We have so much in common. The fact that we are veterans and that we are women, that we can listen to one another and that we can share the pain."

For more information on the THRIVE program, visit http://www.tampa.va.gov/services/women/index.asp.

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