Vet to share healing journey at 'Almost Sunrise' screening, VETOGA classes
He's a veteran seeking healing and forgiveness for the violence he witnessed and committed. Tom Voss found redemption and a new mission. And he's on Guam to share it.
Voss served in the United States Army from 2003 to 2006, which included a tour in Mosul, Iraq, where he served in hundreds of combat missions, convoys, security patrol, raids, area clearance ops, and humanitarian relief ops. Upon his return home, he struggled with depression and thoughts of suicide. In an effort to confront his inner pain he and a friend embarked on a 2,700-mile walk across the continental US, leading to the discovery of the restorative power of silence and meditation.
Their journey was the subject of an Emmy nominated documentary called Almost Sunrise, which will be screened for free at 6 p.m. this Thursday at the UOG Class Lecture Hall. Voss talks about the film's significance.
"It really highlights the subject of moral injury, which is categorized as a wound to the soul," he said. "So when you witness and participate in something that goes against your own moral values or moral upbringing or moral being, and that's kind of inherent in war, you're faced with these really challenging moral dilemmas."
The screening is sponsored by Humanities Guahan, in partnership with the Northern Marianas Humanities Council and will be followed by a discussion and a series of yoga classes with Voss. The yoga classes are a part of VETOGA, a nonprofit organization developed by a Marine Corps veteran to help him deal with the stress and moral conflict a soldier experiences while deployed.
Voss is a graduate of the VETOGA program and now wants to bring the services to Guam.
"The classes that I'm teaching are based on what I learned at the school and it's something that we're looking at bringing out here to the islands to help support veterans and their families, to help them have another option outside of the traditional care modalities that are being offered right now," he said.
Voss shared one technique with us called alternate nostril breathing, which has a calming effect as well as the ability to balance the left and right hemispheres of the brain. And after only a couple of minutes, there was a definite feeling of lightheadedness and euphoria.
"So that's a really good technique that you can use to manage stress," he said. "A good way to do it is before you come into work before you even step into the office or step in the building do that for a few minutes. It brings you down, it centers you, and you're able to have a little more clarity."
The Guam Yoga classes for veterans, first responders, and their families is free and open to the public. It will be held on the following dates:
•Tuesday, Aug. 20: 7 a.m., Dededo Sports Complex | 5:45 p.m. Jeff’s Pirates Cove
•Wednesday, Aug. 21: 7 a.m., Ypao Beach Park Main Pavilion | 5:45 p.m. Plaza de España Azotea
•Thursday, Aug. 22: 7 a.m., University of Guam Calvo Field House
This class is suitable for beginners and all levels; yoga mats will be available for use. Participants will leave class feeling relaxed and refreshed. Classes are 75 minutes and limited to 15-20 participants on a first-come, first-served basis. These free classes are for veterans, first responders, and their families, and are open to the public.
For the full interview with Tom Voss, click here.