CORPUS CHRISTI, Texas — As post-traumatic stress disorder continues to affect thousands of military men and women, one area Jiu Jitsu instructor is working to help heal local veterans.
Owner and instructor of OZ: the Gorilla Village Gym, Hershel Shoats, is doing what he can to give back to those who have given so much.
Brazilian Jiu-Jitsu is more than just combative martial arts for Navy veteran and former bodybuilder Hershel Shoats, it is an outlet for the brown belt.
“What Jiu-Jitsu does, it puts you in the moment. A lot of us with PTSD, it takes us backwards and starts the depression. So you look backwards at things. What Jiu-Jitsu did, and still does to me today, is brings me to the current, brings me to right now. Whatever issues I have, they are right now, they are in present time. I can’t worry about those old things,” said Shoats.
Shoats has made it a mission to help former military service members and anybody with PTSD cope with their daily struggles. And he does it all free of charge.
“There are like 5 or 6 local Jiu-Jitsu gyms that are all under Mission 22 partnership program, which is if there is a veteran that actually wants to go out and participate at any CrossFit, Judo, Jiu-Jitsu, they can reach out to these Jiu-Jitsu gyms and or to Mission 22 partnership gyms, and ask for a scholarship. We will pay up to 3 months for free, and it is all confidential,” said Shoats.
David Jones with Rockport Warriors United is a Navy veteran with PTSD who not only struggles to free himself from a Jiu Jitsu hold, but also from the war within.
“Come in and give it a shot; it is free, and it is not going to cost you anything. If anything, it is going to help you. And you are going to realize...wow this is for me, and this is working. You will get healthy, mind, body, spirit, everything,” said Jones.
Although there are a number of therapies and treatment for PTSD, Shoats say exercise plays an important role in helping sufferers, especially those dealing with depression. And more importantly exercise helps to bring down suicide rates.
“Unfortunately, it is climbing. There was a statistic a couple of years ago that was 22; now it looks like we are about 24 a day, unfortunately. I am not going to say we are losing anything because it takes a village, and that is all it is going to take to get this down to where it should be. But again, we are doing our best we can in this area to tackle those issues,” said Shoats.
PTSD is a condition of reliving traumatic experiences that causes people to feel intense anxiety and fear and often drives them to abuse drugs and alcohol or to contemplate thoughts of self-harm.
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