Howard Magazine - Page 28 - In Fighting Shape

Howard Magazine
- Page 28
In Fighting Shape

By Mike Klingaman Howard Magazine
Photos by Karl M. Ferron


In 2009, Lt. Jen Vaughn was at war — with herself. Or so it seemed to the then-32-year-old Naval officer.


“I was going through some pretty tough stuff — a divorce and a series of deaths in the family, including a suicide,” says Vaughn, of Laurel. “The state of the world, and all that was going on, made things worse. I didn’t deal with the stress well; I needed an escape.”


She tried yoga. That first class, she burst out crying. The sailor who had patrolled the Mediterranean during the Kosovo campaign, and chased pirates off the African coast, lay on her mat, bawling. In a good way.


“Yoga calmed my mind and showed that it’s OK to take 10 minutes to ‘connect to my breath,’ ” Vaughn says. “It saved my life.”


Vaughn is among a number of warriors to embrace yoga as a therapeutic tool to treat pain and stress. Moreover, Uncle Sam has their backs. A 2017 study by the Rand Corporation reported that four out of five military health care facilities in the U.S. now offer non-conventional on-site treatments, including yoga.


At Fort Meade, the central Maryland U.S. Army base home to 14,500 military personnel, “yoga is very well respected and often advocated,” says Col. Beverly Maliner, chief of preventive medicine services. “It’s pretty well documented that meditation helps people with pain of any kind, including PTSD [posttraumatic stress disorder], and yoga fits into that rubric very well.”


According to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs, PTSD affects between 10 percent and 20 percent of veterans deployed in recent wars.


Yoga also benefits noncombatants who live in a hurry-up world, said Maliner, who ascribes to the practice herself.


Right: Joe Jamison, left, and Trip McClurkin, both in the U.S. Air Force, participate in a yoga class.