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Graduating souls

REBOOT offers a new look at PTS

Seventeen graduates from the REBOOT Combat Recovery course are the first to graduate from the new program. Photo credit: J.M. Simpson

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Seventeen souls will graduate this evening (Thursday, Dec. 14) from the initial REBOOT Combat Recovery Course to be held on Joint Base Lewis-McChord.

Tonight's ceremony begins at 6 p.m. in the Letterman Auditorium at the Madigan Army Medical Center. Garrison chaplain (Col.) Marc Gauthier will be the guest speaker. All are welcome to attend.

"I saw an article on the front page of The Ranger newspaper (, and the words ‘soul healing' caught my eye," said graduate Marilyn Gray, during a telephone interview.

"It takes a lot of trust to look at the issues in our soul."

The article was entitled, "Healing the wounded soul" by Jeff Chaves.

For Gray, that look involved rebuilding the damage caused by her husband's post-traumatic stress (PTS) that was destroying their marriage.

The idea behind REBOOT began about a decade ago when a soldier asked Dr. Jenny Owens, an occupational therapist, if it was possible that his soul could die.

The answering of that question led Owens and her husband, Evan Owens, to found the REBOOT Combat Recovery Course.

"REBOOT exist to help heal what is called a ‘spiritual wound,'" wrote Chaves in his article.

The Owens explained in the story that for many servicemembers the war doesn't end when they come home, that the battle continues against an unseen enemy that is attacking their minds and hearts.

"The issues surrounding moral injury and post-traumatic growth are explicitly the areas where mental health and behavioral health can work together," wrote retired Maj. Michael Johnson, director of Depot Ministries, in an email.

A veteran, Johnson contacted the Owens and formed the initial program with the Warrior Transition Battalion (WTB) in the Soldier Family Assistance Center (SFAC).

REBOOT's vision is to change the way trauma is treated for the next generation of combat veterans by reshaping the care model to include not just the mind and body, but the soul as well.

The graduates completed the 12-week course, which focused on rebuilding character, engaging in healthy community and reclaiming leadership roles.  

Spouses and children also took part in the course work.

"We are integrating spiritual/soul healing with the whole person wellness approach," continued Johnson.

Tonight will be a special one for Johnson, who was the course's lead facilitator, Lt. Col. Julie Craig, commander, Warrior Transition Battalion, and Chaplain (Capt.) Gabriel Bultz, WTB chaplain, present the graduates with their graduation certificates, REBOOT T-shirts, and a few other items to include a handmade quilt donated by Plateau Quilts of Comfort Quilters.

Graduate Chris Cardillo certainly agrees.

"I lost my job, kids and wife in one night," said the former Ranger during a telephone conversation.

Cardillo's drinking, PTS, and medications supplied by the Veterans Administration were forming a perfect storm easily capable of destroying him.

"I had nowhere to turn; I began to think about suicide."

Then Cardillo heard about REBOOT.

Through the efforts of Johnson and the REBOOT course, Cardillo believes he is now on his way to living a better life.

"I am alive because of this program."

A second course will begin Thursday, Feb. 1, 2018.  For more information, visit

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