Veterans Coping through Cage Fighting
A new approach to combating PTSD
P.O.W. — Pugilistic Offensive Warrior Tactics — is a combination of mixed martial arts training, yoga and group therapy.
Former Army combat veteran-turned-social worker Todd Vance founded the San Diego-based nonprofit group in 2010 to help veterans transition to civilian life. A competitive MMA fighter since his teens, Vance uses his training to help students combat PTSD and substance abuse through a combination of physical release, peer support and career mentoring.
P.O.W. has raised awareness about post-deployment-related challenges and helped change its members’ lives. Participants report improvements in their physical health and ability to cope with stress and symptoms of PTSD.
Vance regularly sees proof of the program’s success, saying, “A lot of my students have masters degrees, they’ve moved, they’ve bought houses, they’re married. And when I brought them in they were down at the Old Town station, with meth on them, or they were at VVSD (Veterans Village of San Diego) — homeless. And now they’re checking the block and kind of moving along in life …and that’s the ultimate reward for me."