Since July, a group of volunteer-practitioners in Fluvanna County is offering free holistic services for military veterans who are dealing with the physical and emotional toll of their combat experience. Led by Kim Munson, Holistic Outreach for Veterans (HOV) aims to help vets deal with their traumas by offering a range of treatment options, at no charge.

“I’ve wanted to do something for our veterans for a long time,” HOV founder Kim Munson said. “It’s our way of paying tribute to our vets and giving something back to a group that has done so much for our country.”

Munson, a reiki master and mindfulness meditation instructor who lives, practices and teaches in Fluvanna County, is part of a military family herself. Her dad was a WWII Army veteran and her son is an Operation Enduring Freedom Marine veteran.  The experiences of her dad and son showed her there is a real need for additional services to help veterans. It prompted Munson to take action. She advertised in local media to feel out if of there was any interest in de medical community to help out. The response was so good, that a first session was planned in July.

“Not everyone knows what holistic means,” Munson said about her program. “It’s quite a generic term. What we offer is the treatment of the physical and emotional effects of trauma, by gently bringing the body into a state of calm and balance. Through gentle, non-invasive touch, the central nervous system relaxes into a restorative state of rest.”

That is achieved by a range of different methods, like massage, meditation, reiki, aroma therapy, and balancing exercises, to name just a few of the methods used. The result, stress reduction and relaxation, gives way for the body and spirit’s natural ability to heal and recover from trauma.

“We have a total of 12 licensed and trained practitioners who offer their services during our sessions,” Munson said. “Depending on what symptoms a veteran has, we have enough expertise to help.”

The group meets once a month and since the start in July, about a dozen veterans now frequent the group sessions, which are held at Salon DeShano in Palmyra, where Munson is also a hairstylist.

“I know we have veterans from Korea, Vietnam and Afghanistan,” Munson said. “But we don’t ask too many questions, because not everyone is comfortable sharing. It’s also not important where they served. What’s important is that they are coming here for the assistance they need, and that they feel comfortable.”

 Many of the vets that come to the monthly sessions have symptoms ranging from anxiety and fatigue to PTSD and depression.

“It’s safe to say that most of these symptoms are the direct result of their combat experience,” Munson said. “But that isn’t always the case and doesn’t have to be. We welcome all veterans. If a veteran is dealing with an issue that’s not related to his or her service, they are very welcome to join us.”

Munson is still fine-tuning the services she and her fellow volunteers provide.

“We get a better sense each month. One thing that we have noticed is people dealing with a moral injury. People who had to do things as part of their service, or to protect their own lives, that is obviously not acceptable in civilian life. And some vets ask themselves why they survived and their brothers in arms didn’t. It’s not easy to overcome, but with finding the right balance and getting your body in to that restorative state of rest, vets can work on accepting what happened. And with acceptance, comes forgiveness.”

Munson is reminded of her dad, who passed away two years ago.

“He was 94 years young. He didn’t really understand what reiki is. He called it ‘that thing you do’. One day he asked me to help him with his neck pain. He said: Can you do that thing you do? Afterwards his pain was gone and it became something special in our relationship.”

Just 4 months into her program, the feedback Munson received has been wonderful.

“You know, it’s funny. We started this effort because we are so grateful to our vets for the sacrifices they have made to protect our country. But in return, every single vet who has been with us has been so very grateful that we offer this.”

Munson emphasizes that the services she offers are meant to be complementary to any medical treatments a vet may already receive.

If you are a vet, or know of a vet that that might benefit from participating in Holistic Outreach for Veterans, please contact Kim Munson: 434-249-1806.

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