Wounded Heroes: Alternative Treatments For Vets With PTSD Highlighted in New Film


Earlier this month, the documentary, “Wounded Heroes” was released on several online streaming services. In the film, veterans of the Vietnam, Iraq, and Afghanistan wars tell their stories of how they have struggled to recover from traumatic battlefield experiences. 

Using film and still-photography footage of combat zones, Wounded Heroes serves as a cautionary tale about the mainstream method of treating PTSD: overmedicating and combining medications that in the word of Stars & Stripes, the online news outlet of the U.S. military, “might produce harmful side effects.”

But the film showcases unconventional PTSD treatments that are showing positive results for many veterans. From psychoactive drugs and surfing to CBD, these days, there are many options to mitigate CBD besides risky prescription drugs. 

Wounded Heroes also reveals one unique therapy: horseback riding. 

Retired Navy captain, Michael Oluvic, 52, of San Diego, served for 25 years, many of those in special forces and intelligence. Oluvic told Stars & Stripes that he often operated alone with no chain of command and that “the job involved life and death decisions and recommendations about targeting the enemy.” Oluvic also told Stars & Stripes, “The results weren’t always as I anticipated based on the information I had,” he said.

To mitigate his anxiousness and hypervigilant and paranoid state of mind, Oluvic’s wife purchased horses and started riding in the backcountry of San Diego County. In 2017, Oluvic and his wife created the program, Saddles in Service, which teaches horsemanship to veterans and first responders suffering from stress. The free program accommodates 40 riders each week. 

Wounded Heroes depicts former service members riding with Oluvic’s horses. 

Another alternative therapy for PTSD in the documentary is called “reconsolidation of traumatic memories.” Per Stars & Stripes, the treatment is designed to change key aspects of a memory to make it less traumatic; the treatment severs the emotional connection with the memory. 

In addition, Wounded Heroes showcases the unconventional treatment, “stellate ganglion block,” which involves anaesthetizing nerves in a patient’s neck. The numbing affects the central nervous system, which in turn calms the sympathetic nervous response (fight or flight). 

Michael Gier, who created the documentary, told Stars & Stripes, “Every person who features in the film, at some time, felt hopeless and thought they had to live a miserable life.” Gier added, “Today they are off their drugs and they have their lives back and say life is worth living again. There is hope you can get your life back and life a fulfilling life.”Wounded Heroes is available for streaming on Amazon Prime and other streaming services.

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