SOURCE: Covelli Enterprises, Franchisee of Panera Bread LLC - Columbus

Covelli Enterprises, Franchisee of Panera Bread LLC - Columbus

Covelli Enterprises, Franchisee of Panera Bread LLC - Columbus

March 24, 2015 13:53 ET

Covelli Enterprises Brings Emerging Veterans Coping Workshop to Columbus With $55,000 Donation

COLUMBUS, OH--(Marketwired - Mar 24, 2015) -   A staggering 22 veterans commit suicide each day, a number that Project Welcome Home Troops, an organization dedicated to teaching coping methods to returned soldiers, is working to decrease, one free-to-all-veterans workshop at a time. Between November 2014 and January 2015, Covelli Enterprises collected $55,000 at its more than 100 Ohio Panera Bread locations to bring several workshops to Ohio, the first of which will occur in Columbus March 26-31, 2015.

The $55,000 donation by Covelli Enterprises, the largest franchisee of Panera Bread, will cover the costs for Project Welcome Home Troops to reach nearly 400 veterans in the state of Ohio with their emerging, and potentially life-saving, coping method workshops.

Project Welcome Home Troops' workshops involve using practical breath-based tools to decrease the stress, anxiety and sleep problems commonly experienced by veterans and service members. The Power Breath Meditation Workshop, as it is called, is an interactive, mind-body resilience building program that uses a set of specific rhythmic breathing patterns to bring deep mental and physical relaxation and build a framework for empowerment, self-awareness, connectedness to community as well as a positive outlook. The best part is -- it is actually making a difference in many veterans' lives.

Army veteran of the Iraq war, Tom Voss, was deployed in 2004 to support Operation Iraqi Freedom. While in Iraq, Tom participated in hundreds of combat missions, convoys, security patrols, raids, area clearance operations, and humanitarian relief operations including providing security for the first democratic elections in Iraq since the invasion. Tom also conducted several scout sniper missions with the 160th SOAR (Special Operations Aviation Regiment), the Army's most elite helicopter unit. Voss was honored to be selected for these responsibilities while serving, however, when he left the Army in 2006 and returned to civilian life, many of the experiences continued to negatively affect his well-being.

"[I] have been in the depths of my own hell and back dealing with PTS for 10 years," Voss said. "It was the Power Breath Meditation that brought me back. I want to help as many Veterans and family members as possible heal through the techniques taught in the Power Breath Workshop."

Voss now serves as an advocate for Project Welcome Home Troops and their Power Breath Meditation Workshops.

"Project Welcome Home Troops is so pleased with our partnership with Covelli Enterprises to bring the Power Breath Meditation workshop to Veterans in the Columbus area," said Leslye Moore, Director of Program Development for Project Welcome Home Troops. "The generosity of the Columbus community chipping in at their local Panera Bread cafes will bring peace of mind to many Veterans in this community."

The positive effects of this type of integrated health approach are far-reaching beyond the obvious relief it provides to veterans and their families. Utilizing these alternative treatments for PTSD and traumatic brain injury is less expensive than many medications often prescribed, and over-prescribed, to veterans who continue to struggle with depression and insomnia. These coping methods for veterans are also gaining in popularity on both sides of the aisle in Washington for that reason.

Representative Tim Ryan (D- Ohio) said of these coping techniques, "It's time for legislators to learn about it because it hits all the buttons -- it is helping the veterans, it's low-cost, it's low-tech, and there are no side effects... if that doesn't cross partisan lines, I don't know what's going to." 

The 6-day Columbus workshop will occur March 26 - 31 at the All Life Center at 123 Hyatts Road in Delaware from 6:30 - 9:30pm weeknights and 10:00am - 2:00pm on Saturday and Sunday. The workshop is offered at no cost to veterans and their families, but space is limited and attendance at all 6 sessions is required.

Panera Bread will also be donating food for the veterans and their families during several days of the workshop. Moore says food has become an important part of their course as a way for participants to socialize and connect.

"With Veterans, so many of them self-isolate and don't socialize much. Some also don't often take the time to take care of their bodies and eat healthy food," Moore said. "The workshops help expose them to new and healthier ways of eating, but most importantly, the food helps them bond as a group. [It] helps to draw them out of their shells and into conversation."

Moore recounted a story of a Vietnam Veteran at one workshop where they were having a family-style meal prepared by volunteers for all of the participants. She said, "He had tears streaming down his face and said that this was the first time since he came back that he felt welcomed home. We never underestimate the power of food in our workshops."

About Covelli Enterprises
Covelli Enterprises is the single largest franchisee of Panera Bread, LLC with bakery-cafes in Ohio, Pennsylvania, West Virginia, Kentucky, Florida, and Canada. The company prides itself on giving back to the communities it serves, donating $23 million to charity in 2014 alone.

About Project Welcome Home Troops
Project Welcome Home Troops' mission is to improve the quality of life for returning veterans and their families. They provide safe and effective techniques for stress relief, greater health and well-being, and empowerment. Leslye Moore, Director of Development along with several local veterans are available for interviews upon request.

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