LAKE PLACID - Ed Tick has been on a journey for more than three decades. That journey recently brought him to the Olympic Training Center in Lake Placid where he led a Veteran Return Retreat in collaboration with Homeward Bound Adirondacks, which was formerly known as Patriot Hills.
Tick devotes his work to veterans and sufferers of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). He and his partner Kate Dahlstedt founded the nonprofit organization Soldier's Heart in 2006 to alleviate the symptoms of PTSD by developing a new and honorable warrior identity through storytelling, purification, community forgiveness and healing.
The retreat group of 19, comprised of veterans, active duty Marines, family members, helping professionals and civilians, spent three days together at the OTC replicating the Warrior's Journey Home that Tick describes in his book, "War and the Soul."
Ed Tick, Kate Dahlstedt and Olympic bobsledder John Napier pose for a picture with veterans, civilians and active duty Marines who were attending a Veteran Return Retreat at the Olympic Training Center recently.
The experience served as an opportunity to learn and practice ways of successful homecoming, centered on community-based healing that nurtures a positive warrior identity. Using ceremony and ritual, interwoven with traditional therapeutic techniques, the group experienced how various cultures support and reintegrate warriors returning from combat. The small group was intended to be representative of a community by including civilians along with the warriors and their families.
Participants gained a deeper understanding of PTSD, which Tick describes as a "soul wound" and an identity disorder.
"We know of more than 80 names for this condition that different cultures have had since ancient times," Tick said. "We can read descriptions of people with PTSD in the bible, ancient Greek and Roman literature, and those PTSD sufferers look just like ours. They had the same symptoms of rage, loss of morality, acting out in violence and anger, taking out their anger on the wrong people, losing trust in authority - all of this is found in ancient stories that are thousands of years old."
An unexpected bonus at the retreat was a chance meeting with bobsled Olympian John Napier, who completed a six-month tour in Afghanistan fighting with the US Army in 2010. Napier arranged for the veterans to ride the bobsled at Mount Van Hoevenberg, and a few were lucky enough to have him driving.
"The veterans were thrilled by the bobsled experience, but they were struck most at how generous the community was," Dahlstedt said. "It really does take a community to share the burden for our veterans."