New dance program helps veterans find healing step by step - WDRB 41 Louisville News

New dance program helps veterans find healing step by step

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Veterans suffering from post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) or depression are dancing their way to feeling better, through a new program giving an outlet to their pain.

Inside a Louisville dance hall on a Tuesday night Roosevelt Smith is able to let go.  

"You're dancing all that mess away and you're keeping in the good stuff so that’s how that is,” Smith said. 

The veteran, who has served in Saudi Arabia, Iraq and been stationed in Italy and Germany, is honest about the toll his military service has taken on his mental health.

"I do suffer from PTSD," he said.

And on the dance floor Tuesday night, he wasn't alone.

"I suffer from depression," said Angela Dewees. 

"I'm diagnosed with PTSD and severe anxiety disorder," said Ted Spencer. 

But you'd never know when you see him hit the dance floor.

"I was out here five minutes, grinning from ear to ear and I hadn't smiled in a long time," Spencer said.

A long time local dance teacher, Deborah Denefeld is the founder of this group.

She was originally approached about dancing as a release for soldiers by a psychologist at Fort Knox.

"We originally had a series at Fort Knox and it was just wildly successful," Denefeld said. "The participants and loved ones that came all said I felt so much better."

Her group called, "Dancing Well:  The Soldier Project" now meets at various locations around Louisville twice a week. The dances are tailored to the soldiers needs.

Volunteers and spouses and family members are invited too so that every one has a partner.

"The first time I came I had so much fun, I smiled,” said Dewees.

Smiles now replacing those feelings of anxiety and fear, if only for an hour.

"It becomes really an uplifting experience," Denefeld said. "Helps them get through to the next time."

Dancing Well: The Soldier Project is looking for more participants and they're looking for more corporate sponsors so the group can continue to pay the musicians who offer up their services.

For more information, click here.

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