Meet Wally Terry
One of the hundreds of veterans
Who find healing with iRest Yoga Nidra Meditation
From Disaster to Trauma to Healing
Wally is a warm and gregarious man who grew up in New Jersey where he said, “I always loved swimming in the ocean.” Since his dad was a Navy veteran, on turning 18 Wally naturally decided to join the Navy. He served from 1974–1976 during the Vietnam War andworked as an ABF, Aviation Boatswain’s Fuel Mate…….
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Wally’s story of trauma and healing
Wally is a warm and gregarious man who grew up in New Jersey where he said, “I always loved swimming in the ocean.” Since his dad was a Navy veteran, on turning 18 Wally naturally decided to join the Navy. He served from 1974–1976 during the Vietnam War and
worked as an ABF, Aviation Boatswain’s Fuel Mate flight deck crew, on the USS John F. Kennedy aircraft carrier . Part of the Sixth Fleet, it was positioned in the Mediterranean off the coast of Sicily. On the night of November 22, 1975, a relatively relaxed routine evening of maneuvers, the USS Belnap, a guided missile cruiser, collided with the Kennedy. Both ships were loaded with nuclear missiles and ammunition, and a nightmare was unleashed.
Disaster all sailors fear
The Belnap was one of six much smaller ships shepherding the Kennedy. Their job was to accommodate any course changes the carrier would make. According to a Time Magazine article, earlier that evening the Kennedy radioed a shift in course to the accompanying ships. But the Belnap veered off course. Then at 10 pm, the Belnap’s loudspeaker suddenly announced, “Captain to the bridge,” an alert that is sounded when a ship is in peril or under attack. Men raced to their stations as a sudden shock reverberated through the cruiser as a long rumbling shudder that sounded like an earthquake.
The landing deck of the Kennedy was smashing the superstructure of the Belnap. Clouds of acrid smoke were billowing through the cruiser, jet fuel was released and a roar of fire broke out on both ships. The Kennedy was sitting on top of the Belnap!
From a nearby destroyer the site was said to be like the movie, “The Towering Inferno.” There was a fierce blaze amid the ships and burning ammunition was shooting out towards the destroyer. While men were being rescued, a 2 ½ hour fire was fought to keep the fire away from the missile housing and ship’s magazine.
Wally has always been a natural first responder in any emergency. Amid the hurling of fiery fragments of cooked off ammunition splashing around rescue boats, Wally shared: “I helped grab people from the water to airlift and carry them to safety—many severely burned.”
Eight men died in this catastrophe, and at least 48 people were injured, while a couple hundred more suffered smoke inhalation. The Belnap was severely damaged.
Completing his duty
Wally stayed with the Kennedy and then married his high school sweetheart while on leave in May 1975. He always feared there would be another collision—and indeed there was in September of that year–after he was honorably discharged.
Challenges of coming home
As with many new veterans, returning home, starting a family and finding meaningful employment is often a challenge. Forty years ago there weren’t the resources and support that are available today, especially for those harboring nightmarish memories from a disaster such as Wally experienced.
During the first several years of transitioning and trying to support a growing family, Wally floundered with a variety of different jobs-—security bouncer, repossessing cars, delivering flowers, etc. During this time he said, “I was drinking a lot and into drugs and was a real jerk to my wife.” By 1982, with two kids, he finally became more responsible and found more meaningful employment in sales—manufacturing rep, real estate sales and advisor for a nursing college.
Health issues and healing
Wally continued to experience nightmares on and off over the years. Following a bout of cancer in mid-2013 he accidently fell and hit his head, resulting in a concussion. Since then multiple heath issues ensued, including a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), and he has not been able to return to work.
With the help of a supportive family and friends, VA healthcare and other VA benefits, Wally has made great strides in improved health and well-being. A trusted psychologist has helped him understand the true nature of PTSD as a silent wound, and how it has impacted his life. Other therapies, including iRest Yoga Nidra meditation have complimented this progress.
Veterans Restorative Project (VRP) introduces iRest
Research has shown that iRest Yoga Nidra meditation helps alleviate symptoms of PTSD and:
- Decreases: Insomnia, depression and anxiety, irritability and angry outbursts, chronic pain, chemical dependency.
- Increases: Comfort with situations one can’t control, energy level, improved self-worth, sense of control in one’s life, greater ease and well-being, improved personal relationships, clear thinking and staying focused.
With the help of VRP, Wally has consistently practiced iRest over the past three years. Even though many of the symptoms of his trauma continue, he says: “iRest is like a toolbox I can go to and it instantly helps me breath, control my heart palpitations, relax and be calm. Knowing I can control these things I’m happier and in a better mood and my attitude has changed. One of the most important things is you need to keep practicing it over and over again.” He says he can now more fully enjoy life with his wife of 41 years, their three sons and wives, and two grandchildren.
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