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    The life and impact of late Soldier inspires resiliency project for WAMC Physical Therapist

    The life and impact of late Soldier inspires resiliency project for WAMC Physical Therapist

    Photo By Keisha Frith | Kelly Leugers, physical therapist, at Clark Health Clinic, (left) speaks to the...... read more read more



    Story by Keisha Frith 

    Womack Army Medical Center

    FORT BRAGG, N.C. — Displaying and sharing love is how the late retired U.S. Army Maj. Chris VanWinkle is described, having a personality that permeated throughout the clinic and community, in ways that those who didn’t know him, knew him.

    His impact inspired Kelly Leugers, physical therapist at Clark Health Clinic, so she coordinated a resiliency project to honor him, promoting mental and physical health.

    The Resiliency Nature Trail was dedicated to VanWinkle during a Jan. 25., ceremony at Clark Health Clinic. VanWinkle served as physician assistant at the clinic until his death.
    According to Leugers, the nature trail provides patients and providers a nearby, natural stress reduction option, which may improve emotion regulation, decrease pain, drug abuse, and depression symptoms.

    Leugers, believes that even small interventions can make a difference in the lives of those facing mental health problems.

    “As a master resiliency trainer and a physical therapist there are a lot of people that come in that don’t realize that what goes on with them mentally impacts their physical well-being,” said Leugers. “If we can catch people and teach them skills early in life, we can help them to navigate problems.”

    The Resiliency Nature Trail is one such place that trail users can explore five different skills placed along the path. Skills, include, walking meditation, deep breathing, progressive muscle relaxation, five senses (see, feel, hear, smell, taste) exercise and imagery.

    The trail is a collaborative effort between Clark Health Clinic Physical Therapy, Behavioral Health and the skill, design and hard work of Noah Zeek, an Eagle Scout with Boys Scout of America Troop 94.

    The resiliency project took on a deeper meaning for Zeek when he recognized that he was giving back to someone who played a very influential role in his life.

    “Every other weekend we were out at his property learning new skills,” said Zeek.

    Trail users are welcomed with a plaque that reads, “This resiliency nature walk is designed to introduce mindfulness though nonjudgmental awareness of what is happening in the present moment; including improving your awareness of your own thoughts, feelings and senses.”

    The event concluded with an invitation to walk the trail and view the skills on each plaque and bench. Attendees included the VanWinkle family, friends, co-workers and other community members.

    “Whatever it was that would benefit others, Chris would be a part of, so we are just honored that Noah would allow us to be a part of it,” said Chris’s wife, Ayumi VanWinkle.

    “Thank you, it’s truly an honor, you could have done so many different things or dedicate this to so many other people, but you chose Chris,” said Ayumi. “We appreciate everyone at the clinic, you are like a second family to us.”

    The Resiliency Nature Trail, located next to Clark Health Clinic, provides Behavioral Health, Substance Use Disorder Clinical care (SUDCC), physical therapy, and primary care services.



    Date Taken: 01.25.2023
    Date Posted: 02.06.2023 10:34
    Story ID: 437793
    Location: FORT BRAGG, NC, US

    Web Views: 163
    Downloads: 0