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Focusing on female veterans

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The first Women Veterans Wellness Retreat took place right here in Burlington.

It's the first program of it's kind in Burlington and is geared toward providing complimentary and alternative medicine for women veterans.

"There was a motivation to try and introduce the veterans to this and to give them an opportunity to do it for free in a space that they're comfortable with and to maybe try out some techniques that they wouldn't have tried otherwise," said VA Clinic Director of Behavioral Health, Laura Gibson.

Classes offered at the Lakeside Clinic included chiropractic therapy and steps to building financial wellness.

"So far I've taken part in building resilience through compassion seminar and I've always done some of the healing touch," said veteran Heather Satterwhite.

Participants also got a chance to take part in individual or group workshops. The Wellness Studio offered Da Vinci BodyBoard classes and restorative yoga.

"I've been going to the VA up here for a while but I haven't been to anything like this. It's been wonderful," said Satterwhite.

1st Sergeant Vermont Air Guard Colleen O'Neil adds, "This is more of a one stop shop where you can come into one place and get a variety of things like massages and whatever there may be."

Event coordinators say women vets are an under-served group but have been found to be receptive to alternative techniques when it comes to healing from the mental and physical results of combat.

"We thought there would be maybe 5 vets and a few practitioners and we ended up with 30 veterans and 20 practitioners. All volunteering their time," said Gibson.

The VA has also seen an increase in demand for mindfulness meditation, yoga and acupuncture classes.

Gibson adds, "The VA is actually training 3 physicians in acupuncture as a result and we'll be offering that service within the White River Junction VA system."

The VA plans to organize another women veterans retreat next year and hopes to continuing seeing an increase in participants as the program expands.

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