ST. LOUIS (KMOV) — Christopher Quail is a different man today than he was a year ago. He credits the Veteran’s Affair’s Whole Health program, which, for him, includes mindfulness, meditation and yoga, for his transformation.
“Your training is to be tough and you have to be on, and you know, I was on 24 hours a day, that was one of the problems when I got out of the service was I couldn’t turn it off,” Quail told News 4. “So, I was constantly anxious and hyper-vigilant because I had to be to survive in my job.”
Quail was a reconnaissance scout who spent seven years and two tours in Europe. He told News 4 that after the military, he suffered from PTSD, depression, insomnia, weight gain and more.
“You’re trained to just suck it up in the service and that’s what most of us did–suck up emotions and feelings and then it comes out later. And that was my experience—everything came out years later and I was forced to face some of the things I had done in the service. Mindfulness helped me get through that transition,” he said.
Quail started his mindfulness journey in August 2019. Since then, he’s lost 50 pounds, improved his relationships and become a much happier person. He told News 4’s Alyssa Toomey he thought it was all a little hooky at first, but he quickly saw the benefits and bought into the practice.
“What I’ve learned from mindfulness is to recognize the situation, whether it’s pleasant or unpleasant. I mean, I used to be the master avoider. I was like, ‘I don’t like that situation, I’m going to stay away from it and avoid it.’ But, it may harm me in the long run or it may be something that I need to deal with.”
Quail said the practice has been “transformational” and “completely changed” his life.
“I couldn’t feel joy before. I wanted to, and I would beat myself up because I wouldn’t feel joy. I would hold one of my grandsons and question why wasn’t I feeling joy—what’s missing. And then I would beat myself because I thought I should be feeling joy,” he said.
“I’m so much kinder to myself now and that creates a sense of joy and peace. And I’m kinder to others and less judgmental,” Quail told News 4.
Quail is one of many veterans who is benefiting from the V.A.’s Whole Health initiative. St. Louis is one of the cities spearheading the health shift at the V.A.
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