Local veteran finds healing through yoga at Beckley VA


BECKLEY, WV (WNVS) — Years after one veteran came back from war, he found his lifestyle to be different than he remembered.

Marine Corps Veteran, Jerry Doss, said he decided to take yoga classes to change his life.

“Eleven years ago, I almost killed myself accidentally. What it was, I wasn’t getting sleep,” Doss said. “I was driving and I had a hallucination, the only one that I know I’ve had in my life.”

Jerry Doss was driving up Route 52 when he saw a military transport plane fly over his vehicle. His immediate thought was the plane was going to fly into the mountain behind him. Doss said he sped up his car thinking he needed to escape the crash.

“The plane just went through the mountain. Just disappeared,” Doss said.

Around this same time, Doss had another incident involving him falling asleep behind the wheel, causing him to drift into oncoming traffic, almost hitting two women. The State Trooper who was driving behind him immediately pulled over Doss. He apologized to everyone, including the two women, and everyone forgave him for the near miss.

But Doss said that is when he realized things were going downhill quickly.

“I was a danger to myself, a danger to people on the road,” Doss said.

That is when Doss found the Beckley VA Medical Center. Medical professionals there prescribed him the proper medication and Doss says the care he received saved his life.

“Well, somebody told me ‘you ought to get in the Yoga program.,'” Doss said. “At that time, I weighed 330 pounds. I said ‘What am I going to do at 330 pounds?’ So, I came up and got in that little corner over there.”

The Yoga class is lead by Recreational Therapist, Jane Helsing. She has worked with Doss and other veterans for years, and said she sees how yoga changed their lives for the better.

“It’s about them and what they’ve done for our country and doing all I can do even though I didn’t get to serve,” Helsing said. “I can still serve in a different way.”

Doss began Helsing’s class in a chair, unable to get on the floor. Now, Doss is participating in the class with everyone else, on the mats.

“Then, I started losing weight and I’m down to.. .couple more pounds and I’ll break that 300,” Doss said. “And I’ll be tickled to death to break that 300 but my goal is still to go down a couple hundred pounds.”

Doss is accomplishing more than he ever thought he could when he first started losing control of his life.

“I’ve been more flexible,” Doss said. “I could put my belt on, but I couldn’t reach back there to pull it through the hole. I had to miss it. But now, I can do that.”

But one thing Doss said really stuck out to him is that he can now sit on the floor and he is able to get back up on his feet. He said the yoga program truly made a difference in his life and in his health. He credits his instructor for never giving up on him.

“I have a better relationship with people,” Doss said. “I’m not as quiet. In fact, I probably joke too much but I like to make people smile, you know?”

Doss has come a long way and he said he still has more to go. But thanks to the help he received from the VA and Yoga, he is ready for the challenge.

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