Coming Home: Peace Education for Veterans

November 12, 2019 0 By Ronny Jaskolski


Prem Rawat
and his message – it all brought me home. It brought me home,
and my home is my heart. My name is Alyce Knaflich, and I’m the founder, chair, and executive director
of “Aura Home for Women Vets”. Aura Home for Women Vets is an organization
that assists homeless women veterans and those who are impoverished. I grew up during the Vietnam era. I came into active duty
right out of high school. Actually, I didn’t join the military
to fight, to go to war. Vietnam was still in many many people’s minds,
and they were still cleaning it up. I joined the military
so I could be a peacekeeper. I enjoyed the military,
I enjoyed the structure, the discipline, the sense of being in freedom
and yet being a part of a team
that was larger than you. Every day it was something new,
different, exciting, going on. They say I served during peacetime, but there were more conflicts during
the time I served, than ever in our country. About 16 and a half years in the military,
and I got out then. When you exit the military,
you go through a lot of changes –
lifestyle, and everything. Because you come from
a team mentality – you’ve got someone to tell you
what to do every day, all your needs are met –
I mean everything – your food, your clothes,
you don’t have to pay electric bills. You don’t know how all these things
work out here in society. So once you get out of the military,
here you are! You’ve got no one telling you what to do,
you don’t know where the resources are,
you don’t know where to find an apartment. ‌Howdo you find an apartment,
or a place to live? If you don’t have your support system,
like a family to go home to,
and you’re on your own, you are left to your own devices. And if we look back in our history,
Vietnam veterans,
there were so many of them out there. In fact today, the ones who are still alive,
some of them are still out there camping. They prefer to live there.
They’ve disassociated themselves
completely from society. They never healed
from their experiences. Eventually I ran out of all my savings – sell the car, sell everything, all my property. When I went to the VA Hospital, and they
diagnosed me with post-traumatic stress … … and I shouldn’t work anymore,
so what am I going to do? I’m not quite 40 years old, and
here I am, I’m told I can’t work anymore. So what am I going to do
for the rest of my life? How am I going to sustain myself? So I’ve traveled the country,
picked up jobs, little jobs here and there;
waited on tables a lot. I got to the point where I was
picking up cans and bottles off the street
to get some money to eat. But during those 10 years that I was homeless,
there weren’t any programs for veterans back then. I was in deep depression, because I wasn’t feeling like
I was productive in any kind of way. It was kind of a mundane life, trying to survive and trying to figure out
what I wanted to do with myself. Things got to a breaking point. It was due to the PTSD,
and things that happened to me in the military. One of the things that happened to me
was military sexual trauma (MST)
due to being raped twice. And one of those rapes
ended up in a pregnancy which later I lost –
I miscarried that child. So there were a lot of things
going on with me in the military besides just the war things
that I’ve been involved with. I continue to try to work. I’ve done all of this trying to better myself,
so that I feel like I’m productive. Then Prem’s message came and … because I was kind of lost –
I was lost … What am I going to do?
I don’t know what to do. I was in this quandary,
just like, milling around. When I did the pilot program,
I said “yes, yes, this is what I need,
this is what I want”. This is what I’ve always
known in my heart, but Prem confirmed it
with his message. All these wars, conflicts – we’ve been having a lot of bombings
and shootings here just in our country – all that is created from
not having peace within ourselves. They’re projecting all their ugliness,
that they haven’t dealt with, on someone else. In a lot of cases
they take someone else’s life by doing that;
they harm someone else. And in the war perspective,
governments take it out on other countries. And Prem Rawat,
his message brought me home. It brought me, and said
it’s okay to be who I am, it’s okay for me to think what I do,
and to do whatIwant to do. But I always felt, with all this pressure out here
– you’re supposed to do this and this and this – you know, I was doubting myself – what I can do with my life,
or what Ishouldbe doing, why I’m not pursuing my passions. Prem Rawat, and his message,
helped bring that all out of me. Spending some time with just me – like, what does this all mean?
and what does it mean tome?
and what does it mean to what I’mdoing? How do I take this message,
work it within me, and bring it out? I always led by example,
so that’s why I feel like, I take this in,
and I lead by starting this organization, and showing women veterans
that you can get out of homelessness. And I found out, you know,
no one is going to do this, unlessIdo it. This is my path, to help women veterans.
All these years, I figured it out finally. This is it, this is what I got to do,
this is what I have to accomplish,
beforeIhavemylast breath on this earth. I’m in a better place than I was,
and that’s thanks to you. I want to do the Peace Education Program
with the women veterans. Prem’s message will help them heal
all that stuff they’re going through – all that emotional stress,
all the whole transition of coming out of the military
and trying to find a new career – it will help them center themselves,
bring out the confidence that “I’m just going through another change”, “we’re going through a change here,
another experience”. “Peace on earth” –
what does that mean? It’s not the lack of combat,
or war, or violence. It’s peace inside you.
This is where peace starts. Because everything that you’re
looking for is … you already have.