Wounded Warriors Spread the Word about Holistic Nutrition Health Benefits

Wounded Warriors Spread the Word about Holistic Nutrition Health Benefits


IRVING, Texas, November 11, 2014 — When Elijah Sacra and Clarissa Kussin, co-founders of the non-profit Semper Fidelis Health & Wellness (SFHW), headed to Walter Reed National Military Medical Center (WRNMMC) in Bethesda, Md., on October 24, they thought they knew what would happen when they arrived.

They’d planned to conduct a small, informal, “Delicious Foods Daily” workshop with 10 members of the U.S. Marine Corps Wounded Warrior Battalion – East, Walter Reed Detachment. They’d been health coaching the group remotely from their headquarters in North Carolina since meeting them at the first, formal, PLH Group-sponsored holistic nutrition workshop at WRNMMC on June 23.

Instead, Sacra and Kussin found a surprise waiting for them. The 10 Marines had told friends and roommates about the changes they’d made in the four months since the first SFHW event and invited them to attend the new workshop. Rather than the expected 10 attendees, the workshop had more than 30, including both Marine and U.S. Army personnel.

“My roommate said I had to come because it was amazing,” a female soldier told Sacra.

While the 10 original Marines related their experiences to the rest of the group, sharing how they’d lost weight, gained energy and reduced the number of prescription medications they were taking, Sacra and Kussin scrambled to convert a workshop for 10 into a workshop for 30.

Fortunately, they’d brought along extra help, Sacra said, in the form of retired Marine Cpl. Patrick Matisi and his wife, Sasha Techet.

An SFHW success story himself, Matisi was shot through the arm and chest by a Taliban sniper in Afghanistan in 2011 and was on active duty at USMC Wounded Warrior Unit 3 at Camp Lejeune, N.C., when he first encountered SFHW. Through SFHW Warrior Wellness Solutions, Matisi reduced his medications from 15 to three, healed and rehabilitated his body. Now medically retired, he works at the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency (NGA) and gives back to fellow wounded warriors by helping with SFHW workshops, such as the one at WRNMMC.

With Matisi demonstrating as Sacra and Kussin provided detail, the two-hour workshop encompassed four hands-on stations where all 30 participants could try preparing nutrient-dense foods, including an entrée, juices, smoothies and a pudding made with chia seeds.

SFHW recipes focus on “super foods,” such as kale, spinach and chia seeds, to help support tissue and injury repair, reduce body fat, increase energy and enhance overall mental and physical health, Sacra said. Juicer manufacturer Breville donated a juicer for SFHW to leave behind after the workshop, so that, in the future, attendees can check it out from their administrative commanding officer for personal use.

“It was awesome to find out that the 10 people we’d been working with had been telling all these other people about the program,” Sacra said, but added that such “evangelism” shouldn’t have come as a surprise.

“When we hold a workshop like the one PLH sponsored at Walter Reed in June, a certain number of people hear what we say and then just go do it on their own. We don’t know about it, and we don’t hear from them until maybe a year later, when they get in touch and tell us we changed their lives,” Sacra said.

“But then again, sometimes we never hear from that person. Instead we hear from someone they told who tried it, too. All of a sudden someone we’ve never had any direct contact with gets in touch and tells us how we’ve changed their life. It’s a ripple effect that you really can’t measure.”

After a holistic nutrition workshop like the one at WRNMMC in June, it’s also typical for five to 10 attendees, who want to try the program but who don’t quite know how to do it on their own, to reach out to SFHW for help. The 10 Marines originally invited to the October 24 workshop were such attendees, who received ongoing, long-distance health coaching free of charge, Sacra said.

In addition to the June 23 workshop, the health coaching and October 24 follow-up workshop were also funded by PLH Group, which held a charity golf outing in September that raised $20,000 to help SFHW cover such day-to-day expenses.

“It typically runs $1500 to $1700 per warrior beyond workshop costs to get them what they need. Many of our wounded warriors don’t have great financial resources, so they might need help to buy a juicer and fresh produce or enroll in a local yoga class,” he said, adding that no one at SFHW draws a salary. Their work with wounded warriors is provided on a volunteer basis, and there is never a charge to the warriors. “That’s why we’re so grateful to sponsors like PLH Group for enabling us to continue to do this work.”

About Semper Fidelis Health and Wellness (SFHW)

SFHW is a mission-focused, 501(c)3 non-profit organization focused on training, education and empowerment of wounded, ill and injured service members and veterans. The organization was founded in 2009 by U.S. Marine Corps veterans and a career holistic health and wellness practitioner. SFHW is the first and only non-profit organization to deliver a full spectrum of evidence-based holistic and integrative health and wellness services, free of charge, to the wounded, ill and injured warrior community. For more information, visit www.semperfidelishealthandwellness.org.

About PLH Group, Inc.

PLH is a leading provider of construction and maintenance services to the electric power delivery and pipeline industries in North America. Its customers include many of the largest utilities, regional cooperatives, renewable energy developers, commercial and industrial customers, and major oil and gas producers and midstream companies. PLH, has acquired Sun Electric, TESSCO, AIR2, Auger Services, Snelson Companies, IPS Engineering, Southeast Directional Drilling, M&M Pipeline Services, Energy Services South, Pipeworx, TTR Substations and R.B. Hinkle Construction. PLH is actively seeking to further expand its service offerings and geographic footprint. For more information, visit www.PLHGroupInc.com.


Jolie McShane