Local VA Offers 1st Ever Tai Chi Program For Veterans

MURFREESBORO, Tenn. - The Department of Veterans Affairs in Murfreesboro offers the only adaptive Tai Chi class in the country for veterans.

After recognizing success from the pilot program, the instructor has been training people across the country on how to incorporate Tai Chi into VA programs.

In the community room, socialization has helped some veterans find peace of mind.

"Research has demonstrated that Tai Chi is one of the most effective ways of maintaining mind body health," Dr. Zibin Guo said.

Guo helped launch the program two years ago. He said it was made possible by a grant.

Mindfulness is something that's imperative for veterans like Cory Stophlet.

"Not the past, not tomorrow. Just now," Stophlet said.

Stophlet said the class has helped him physically and mentally. He suffers from post traumatic stress disorder, anxiety, depression, and a neurological condition.

"I have an issue with tremors and they tend to exacerbate when I'm in a stressful situation or around people," Stophlet said.

In Tai Chi class, he said he's able to achieve peace of mind.

"It's more than just the Tai Chi," Stophlet said. "It's just a comfort place. It's mindfulness. When we're working together."

Eventually the veterans in the class will be able to learn self defense through the martial arts practice.

"A lot of people find the practice and the idea of those movements and improve self confidence," Dr. Guo said.

So when these veterans go home, they have a new mission: to practice mindfulness, so they can heal.

"The mind is very powerful," Guo said. "It can make your body become anything you want to."

Aaron Grobengieser helps to manage the program.

“We don’t just have to be there for them when they’re having an acute problem, and we can really help them find ways to cope with some of the things they go through in a proactive way," Grobengieser said.

He said if you are a veteran, the class is free at the Murfreesboro location.

“We are a starting point. We are a flagship. We are an opportunity to see how it goes. We have a great opportunity here to really see what works," Grobengieser said.

Dr. Guo has recently visited the VA in Dallas and Salt Lake City to train instructors there in Tai Chi. He hopes to launch the programs soon.

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