Elkhart — Kenny Holmes served in US Army and he was deployed to Iraq. Though about a decade has passed, he is still dealing with many lingering effects, including PTSD and anxiety. He wants to help other veterans who are experiencing similar challenges get back on track.
Holmes is a co-founder of Freedom System, an Elkhart veterans organization. He now serves as their President and CEO.
“It’s important to get back into something – whatever it is and be able to re-integrate,” says Holmes.
Martial arts has been the key in helping Holmes recover. That’s why on Thursdays evenings you’ll find a group of vets at Scrapper’s Rescue in Elkhart performing the ancient practice.
“This is really important for veterans in the area to be able to really kind of refocus who they are. Learn how to handle themselves in situations that they might not be able to understand. Really focus on the breathing, get the anxiety out, get their head back in the game,” says Holmes.
This is part of “Project: Veteran Relief.” It was created to help those struggling with disabilities like PTSD or Traumatic Brain Injury.
“It’s important for veterans to realize that they can do it,” says Holmes. “They are able to achieve anything they can do, because we’ve gone through the hardest things in the world.”
The goal of the training is to reduce some of the bad effects of warfare but boost the good memories veterans had while serving.
Holmes says, “This is also creating comradery. Creating that air of what you had when you were in the service.”
Air Force Veteran Carl Arnett, stopped by the class for the first time recently.
“It teaches us to really, not only trust ourselves, but trust others,” Arnett says. “I came in here and knew none of these guys and they joked around with me and it kind of made me feel back at home.”
The martial arts classes are just a part of Holmes’ larger mission with local organization Freedom System. They help vets in many different ways, including navigating the VA system, do resume classes and help with employment in the Elkhart area.
“We care about veterans,” says Holmes. “We want them to be able to help themselves, but at the same time nobody can help themselves 100 percent of the time. Sometimes you got to lean on somebody.”
These classes are FREE for veterans. They are held Thursdays at 6:30 at Scrapper’s Rescue. The address is 1919 Cassopolis St., Elkhart, IN 46514.