VA rec therapy helped this IED blast survivor cope with PTSD and find his calling.

[MUSIC] >>TEXT: Jason, Army Veteran,
Explore VA, Health Care. >>JASON: I’m Jason. We turned on
a main road and got hit by an IED. I just was worried about
not being able to walk again, really. I ended up going through
a lot of bouts of depression and PTSD, and I definitely had a
hard time for long, long years. >>JAMIE: The first time I met
Jason he was coming to our day program for our Polytrauma
Transition Rehab Program, and he didn’t say a word. So we had to
build somewhat of a therapeutic rapport with him and gain his
trust before we could really start to interact. >>JASON: Jamie Kaplan was a
recreational therapist, one of the first ones I met at James A.
Haley. He’s a really great guy, so basically right from the
start I had an instant connection with him. And it was
just really fun watching him and learning from him. >>JAMIE: Recreation therapy is
a therapeutic intervention or treatment that uses recreation
and leisure instead of the traditional methods of therapy.
So I kind of call it the sneaky therapy, because people don’t
actually realize they’re doing therapy. >>JASON: The VA can do kayaking
and fishing and take you hiking or running or anything, really.
Especially if you go with the right recreational therapist,
they can help you get the benefits that are there. >>JAMIE: Jason’s goals were
specific-activity-based. He wanted to be back out there. He
wanted to be lifting weights. He wanted to be interactive like he
used to be. And that’s how we get a lot of that information is
“I used to do this. I used to have a lot of friends.” “Well,
let’s figure out a way to make it happen.” And with Jason, he
was in the driver’s seat from the get-go. >>JASON: And then it basically
just hit me that I needed to start working again, so I
decided to look into school again. And I looked into like PT
and OT and just any medical field stuff, but recreational
therapy had helped me the most, so I figured I wanted to do
that. And I want to be able to give back to other Veterans and
help as many as I can. I have my final internship this summer at
Tampa General Hospital. So I’ll do 14 weeks there for 560 hours.
Once I finish that, I have to take a certification exam for
rec therapy. And then once I finish that, I’m hoping to get a
job at James A. Haley. >>JAMIE: I didn’t serve in the
military. This is my service to my country. Taking care of these
guys and making sure that they’re getting the most benefit
for what they do — it’s my thank you to them. It’s my way
of giving back to them. And if you approach your job in that
way, you have a different level of care. You have a different
understanding, a perspective, in how you deal with the patients. >>JASON: After I got wounded, I
didn’t really know where my life was going to go after that. Now
after going through the VA and the rec therapy program, I know
my life has a purpose, and I really just want to become a
recreational therapist and help as many Veterans as I can. >>TEXT: Don’t miss out on
benefits you may have earned.

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