An author, speaker, founder of Operation Bootstrap and nationally-recognized expert in the fields of yoga and mind/body health
December 10, 2013 - 2:00pm to 3:00pm

Joyce welcomes Eric Walrabenstein, an author, speaker, founder of Operation Bootstrap and nationally-recognized expert in the fields of yoga and mind/body health. Eric’s Operation Bootstrap Program is designed to help returning veterans and their families cope with the effects of post traumatic stress disorder and other psychological effects of war.  This first-of-its-kind program combines modern scientific stress-management principles with the ancient mind/body wisdom of yoga to return both body and mind to their naturally relaxed state of balance. Eric will discuss this program in depth and explain how it is saving lives.

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This is being provided in a rough-draft format. Communication Access Realtime Translation (CART) or captioning are provided in order to facilitate communication accessibility and may not be a totally verbatim record of the proceedings.

   >> Welcome to "Disability Matters" with your host, Joyce Bender. All comments, views, and opinions expressed on this show are solely those of the host, guest, and callers. Now the host of "Disability Matters." Here's Joyce Bender.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Welcome to the show, everyone. You are all tired out from your holiday shopping, and it is going to continue on and, by the way, tell your kids December 31st, two o'clock Eastern, I am monitoring where Santa is. You make sure you tell them to listen Christmas Eve, two o'clock.

   Right now I am excited about this show because many of you know that I'm on a crusade for employment for veterans with disabilities. I always say the fact that men and women would go overseas and fight for us and not know us personally and then come back and not be hired, shameful, absolutely shameful.

   And, you know, I know that servicemen and women go through tremendous stress with what they're doing in Iraq or Afghanistan or wherever it is they're fighting or have fought, but I am happy to tell you we have someone on the show today that I really believe can help and can provide really great direction for people going through that. So we have today, Eric Walrabenstein -- go ahead and tell them your name.

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Eric Walrabenstein.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Thank you. Don't ask me why I'm having a problem with this name. I have no clue. But Eric is the president of Yoga Pura Global Wellness Bootstrap and he has done so much serving our country.

   Welcome to the show, and for our listeners across the United States, how about if you tell them about your background as a serviceman. What do you for our country?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  I'm delighted to be here. As far as my service background, at this point, it feels like a lifetime or two ago, but it was back in the early to mid '80s when I graduated from college and became commissioned as an infantry officer in the United States Army. I served in Georgia and Washington for a period of four years on active duty, and then after that, for another three years or so in the reserves, and this was down in San Francisco.

   I was fortunate enough to not be sent overseas for the first Gulf War although I did serve back in South Carolina for a time during that conflict.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Wow! Thank you very much for serving this country. We have had on this show everyone from senators, NFL stars to Valerie Jarrett from the Obama administration, and I do work with the White House, and I know you know the First Lady is very committed to the families of servicemen and women here, but as I said earlier, I just become so upset when I see people homeless that have fought for our country that come back. So, you know, I think you can offer a lot of help here. I think a good place to start would be if you would tell us what Bootstrap is and why you believe it is important.

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  I'd be happy to. Since my separation from service back in the early '90s, I really kind of dedicated my life to the practice and teaching of yoga and mind body health and Bootstrap kind of grew out that. It is a home-based program that I designed to be practiced in the privacy of your own home, and it combines the ancient and proven wisdom of yoga together with modern stress management principles. Our whole goal of the program is to begin to push health out to hundreds of thousands of people who are not getting help through more traditional means.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  And you started doing this when? When did you start working in this area?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  I started working in yoga mind body health in 1992. And the Bootstrap program has been kind of an evolution of that work and was first conceptualized right around 2005 or so. I still know an awful lot of people who are coming back from the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, and they were sharing with me some of their stories, and it became evident that what we do here in Phoenix in our yoga studio could be very much helpful to the healing and recovery of our troops and veterans coming back from overseas. That was the genesis.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Well, you know, something I find very troubling because I just spoke on a panel for veterans with disabilities, and various people were on the panel putting forth their perspective. And one thing that was discussed was how more people, more soldiers, have died by suicide within the last year than in combat. I mean, that's unbelievable. It's terrible. But a lot people do not know that. And they really don't know that. What is your perspective on this?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  I take it even a step further, and it's not only more die by suicide than in combat. It's more have died in the last year alone than in all of the combat since we entered Iraq and Afghanistan. Many veterans commit suicide every single day. It's shocking --

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  That's unbelievable.

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  But my take on why this is not more in the forefront of people's mind is first of all, we all have extraordinarily busy lives these days, and so many of us live in the perpetual state of low-grade overwhelm so taking our attention from keeping our heads above water for many Americans is already a big task. We don't think about veterans so much. There's really not a sensible and actionable course of action for them to help. I think this is the combination of our distracted attention and the fact that there really doesn't seem any kind of tangible way to help that creates the situation where people have a tendency to kind of just look the other way.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  I don't know how you could look the other way from this. Twenty-two per day?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  A day and that's a pretty conservative number, and that comes from the Veterans Administration's own figures. Why do you think that is? Why?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  It's pretty clear the horrors of combat are something the human nervous system is really not designed for. And when you add to that, a lot of these folks are going back year after year after year and you have these repeated deployments, the loss of loved ones, being away from family and support structures. It takes a toll on the nervous system, and it throws it into a chronic imbalance.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Yeah, and I don't think, you know, I hate to say this, but many young boys and girls, many young men and women, when they join the service, I really don't think they have any idea what it's like to be in combat overseas because that has to be a shock on anyone, no matter who it would be. And I can see why that would lead to such a trauma with someone. Don't you agree?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Absolutely. I have a lot of friends. I was in such a long time ago. My friends are very senior leaders now in the Army and even seasoned veterans, many of them are having the same problems simply because of the heightened state that the nervous system is asked to function in day in and day out.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Another example I can give is that people I know that were in the Vietnam War. Now, these people are older, like, 50 or 60 or older, but they still can't talk about it. That always amazes me.

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  When we were giving the early clinical trials for the Bootstrap program, I went to our local VA in Phoenix to recruit participants. When I went to the programs, I entered a room chocked full of 50- and 60-year-old men who have been coming to these classes for the last four years because they simply haven't been able to shake off what happened to them in the Vietnam conflict.

   The good news is the Bootstrap program, although we originally designed it for some of the younger veterans, we've been able to help a tremendous number of Vietnam veterans as well.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  That's wonderful, and I hope if you're listening to this show that you tell everyone about this because, hey, it doesn't matter how old you are. The pain is still there, and if something can help to alleviate that pain, it is certainly worth looking into.

   We're going to go to break right now, and we'll be right back with Eric, the president of Yoga Pura Global Wellness Bootstrap. And that would be Eric Walrabenstein. I'm getting better at his name. We'll be right back. This is Joyce Bender, America's voice, on 

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Welcome back, everyone. You know, this show is very important today because we're dealing with lives. We're dealing with trauma, and that's why I'm so happy to have Eric Walrabenstein with us today who, really, is trying to make a difference.

   Eric, let's talk about it. How about you tell our listeners what you do and also explain to our listeners how you believe you can help servicemen and women reduce those horrors of war that we talked about.

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Well, as I said, the Bootstrap program melds the east and west. It takes some of the best practices of the ancient practice of yoga and combines them with modern stress management principles. I think most people understand yoga to be a series of mindful movements or postures combined with breath, but there's a whole aspect of the practice of yoga and some of the mindfulness practices from the East that really aren't taught that much. The Bootstrap program really leverages those.

   What we're really out to do with Bootstrap is to bring the nervous system back into balance. So when the human organism is exposed to these heightened states or awareness and the threats and the horrors that are really common in combat, the system itself becomes chronically unbalanced. And so what we've done is to create a 10-week curriculum-driven program that is designed specifically to restore that balance to the nervous system and not by any means, erase the memories of the traumas and that type of thing which is really, to be quite honest, possible, but it helps to forge a more, how shall we say, harmonious relationship with the traumas so that there can become a level of peace and acceptance and wholeness, even in the midst of what has happened in the lives of the people who have served our country.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  So you believe this is going to help someone?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Well, the short answer is it has.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  How about if you talk about that? How about if you share some success stories about individuals who have been part of your program?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Since our inception of clinical trials back in 2009, I believe it was, we've helped the widest variety of those active-duty service members and veterans from all the way back to Vietnam, as I mentioned earlier, to our current conflicts, and from privates all the way up to colonels.

   The one particular marine corporal that comes to mind because it is one of the most touching stories at least that I have experienced so far, this was a young man who had come back from Iraq, was having a very difficult time readjusting. He couldn't keep a job relationships and kids and he came to us for the trial. He went through the program, and in as little as four weeks, he was noticing marked improvement in his well-being. At the end of the program, he came up to me and we were talking a little bit about how he was able to feel much more stable, and he said, Eric, this has helped tremendously. That kind of thing that really, you know, makes our efforts here at Yoga Pura worthwhile.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Wow! What do you think he meant by that? How do you think that happened?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Well, the symptoms that he was plagued with, and, again, from this heightened state of awareness, the overstressed nervous system, posttraumatic stress, was presenting themselves as angry outbursts, as an inability to control his emotions, the inability to be present in relationships. And as we were able to calm the nervous system down, help him to engage his body and breath and actually could become more and more conscious of some of these self-sabotaging mental tendencies that were being exhibited in his life, he was able to bring all of that back down to kind of a calm, relaxed, normal state. And as a result, he found he was able to communicate with his children.

   He told a story that his youngest child had spilled a glass of juice in the living room and went all over the carpet. And both of his children, their eyes lit up and they were in this absolute panicked state waiting to be screamed at, and they were both flummoxed when he said that's okay. We all make mistakes. And he told me he used that as a learning event, rather than flying off the handle like he usually would. So that was possible because his nervous system was in a calm, relaxed, normal state it should be, rather than this active state he's thrown into as a result of traumatic stress and other chronic stress.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  As I'm hearing you talk about this, what really made you want to do this? How did this happen? I mean, I know you wanted to help, but what made you lean toward yoga?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Well, my whole life it seems, is kind of a perfect storm of events, and everything that had happened to me kind of led up to this place. But as I got out, I, myself, wrestled with significant chronic stress conditions that came from the various different sources that I wasn't even really aware of. Back in my late teens, I was attacked, and that had a lingering effect on me that I wasn't aware of. When I got out of the military, I had financial and career issues to deal with, living alone in transient hotels in San Francisco at the time. And all this created a situation in which I was finding myself having what most people would think of as having panic attacks. I was having a hard time breathing and focusing, and things were tending to spiral out of control.

   A friend of mine invited me to go to a yoga class and it helped. And because it helped, I began to seek out more and more notable teachers. I traveled to India and sought out some of the most sharp and renowned minds in yoga, mind body health in the world. Over the last 20 years of study and practice and sharing this through my work here at Yoga Pura, I was able to really feel like I could be of service to those people of the military who have meant so much to me over the years.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  What made you go meet all these, you know, shall I say leaders in meditation? What made you do that?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  There's a certain part of me that has always been a kind of I guess you could say, go-big-or-go-home mentality. I don't do things in half measure no matter what they are. So when I joined the Army, I became an infantry officer and had to go to airborne and rangers school and all the things that were the hardest things to do. It's part of my personality. So as I began to get into yoga and wanted to teach and share it with others, I felt compelled to be as well-equipped and well-conversant in every aspect of the practice as I could be. It is kind of my makeup.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  You mentioned that when you were a teenager, you were attacked. And I know our listeners are going to wonder what you mean by that. What is it that happen?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  I was in a dark covered parking garage in Sacramento, California and walking up to my car alone and a crowd of young thugs came up behind me. They knocked me to the ground with quite a few punches and kicks and stole my wallet and fractured my right cheekbone and all of that type of thing. Quite honestly, as attacks go, it was pretty mild. It left me with a fractured cheekbone, a mild concussion, and an emergency room bill so it really wasn't that big a deal. But what I noticed in retrospect was that it had quite a lingering effect.

   I had a feeling whenever I went into dark, crowded spaces whether it had to do with the parking garage or alleys that didn't have a clear exit way or other kinds of environments like that, and I dealt with it for years and years. Also, people looked like the people who attacked me also sent my nervous system into high gear for years and years and years. And the staff worked on me, and I didn't even realize there it was coming from. And quite honestly, at the time I didn't even realize it was depressing my well-being. It was as I was getting into yoga, but as with the physical, but with the mental and emotional aspects and began to heal that I realized this huge relief in my life that made me realize that I had been kind of laboring under the weight of the defects of this stress for years and unnecessarily so.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  And you know what, Eric? First of all, I do think that was a big deal. And number two, you're very courageous from you speaking out and telling your story. You're going to give hope to many other people with just you telling that story. So, you know, I really applaud you for that.

   And we'll talk more to you in a few minutes as soon as we come back from break. What a dynamic young man Eric Walrabenstein is.

   This is Joyce Bender, America's voice, where disability matters on We'll be right back with Eric.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Welcome back to the show and, hey, if you just joined us, we're talking to Eric Walrabenstein. And Eric has Yoga Pura Global Wellness Bootstrap, and he is dedicating his life through his work to help other servicemen and women dealing with stress, dealing with trauma, and I do think he's really a wonderful person. But you know, everyone knows that knows me that for the past 12 years I've been on the air, you're always hearing the same thing which is why are people with disabilities unemployed. Thank God with Section 503, we're going to see a difference here, folks. And you know there are so many great advocates like Tony Coelho, Pat Wright, Marca Bristo and Justin Dart so let's not forget his wife, Yoshiko.

   Yoshiko Dart, you're always listing to this show so a big shout out to you. But so many people worked to see Section 503 come to life after 40 years, and here it is. So as a woman living with epilepsy and CEO of Bender Consulting Services, I am, as everyone knows, all about employment. And it is just so upsetting to me that many veterans with disabilities are not only unemployed but homeless. Right here in Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania, there is a young serviceman who had been in the Iraq war and he was in downtown Pittsburgh where we referred to as The Point which is a park area. You know what he was doing? He was living in a tent so someone from United Way went over and found him and said, hey. We can help you. We can get you a bed and in a shelter. You know what he said? No. Do that for someone else because at least I have a tent. That kills me. That just kills me.

   So we really need to do something about this. So we've got to make a difference here, and you know there are two big injuries, and you all know what it is:  traumatic brain injury and posttraumatic stress disorder.

   So, Eric, I know you're familiar with this. I wonder if you would explain to our listeners what posttraumatic stress disorder is, how it impacts you, and why you believe that this is a barrier to employment. It should not be, but that's how employers feel about it. What do you think about that?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Posttraumatic stress disorder, or as more and more we're trying to call it posttraumatic stress, we're trying to analyze the feeling of disorder being placed on people's heads, is really simply the nervous system being stuck in the fight or flight state. So our nervous systems are designed to swing back and forth between this nice, calm, relaxed, rejuvenating state which is a normal setting, and when we're faced with a threat of some kind that is a threat to our body or well-begin, the nervous system kicks into a heightened state of awareness, one that is ready to fight for the well-being of the organism or flee for the well-being of the organism. And in order to do that, what's called the sympathetic nervous system kicks into high gear and it creates a state in the body that robs energy from nonessential things like digestion and reproduction and other types of things and sends all that energy to the systems in the body that are needed for fighting or running away. It's a great system and it works well. The trouble is that the system is really designed to whether a 70-second saber-toothed tiger attack and not a 7-year military career or even a 7-month deployment. And so when the nervous system is asked to function in this sympathetic mode, in this fight-or-flight mode, for a long period of time, it gets stuck. And as a result, it depletes the overall well-being of the person and also leads to a whole slew of systems like insomnia and inability to control emotions, angry outbursts, nightmares, flashbacks, and a whole host of other symptoms and makes it very difficult to function in a normal world.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  You know, here's what bothers me, folks. With all this media attention and with all these movies and television shows, now employers view hiring a veteran with a disability who may have posttraumatic stress disorder, and certainly many do, I'm not going to hire those people, Joyce. They could come in here with a gun and kill everyone. I mean, folks, you've got to get over this mentality. You really do. I have found employment for people with posttraumatic stress disorder who, yes, they need an accommodation at work, but are functioning at the highest level. This prejudice, I mean, when you think about it, why does the person have posttraumatic stress disorder?  Well, because they went through something traumatic, and they saw something traumatic, and why did they? Because they were fighting for you.

   Now they come back and we won't hire them because of this? This has to stop. This really has to stop. You've got to open your minds. And the employers listening to this show, I have something to tell you. You think it is really only servicemen and women who have posttraumatic stress disorder? I have news for you. They're working in your company right now, men who have been assaulted, women who have been assaulted, someone who has seen a parent die in an accident. You have people right now in your company, of course they aren't telling you because they don't want you to treat them differently, but you already hired people. So don't close that door to veterans with disabilities.

   Well, Eric, you know, I know this may sound unusual after we talked about all of this, but do you believe that through your program that you could help veterans with disabilities gain self-esteem that they have lost and, in fact, is it possible that that could be a steppingstone to gaining employment?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  The short answer is absolutely yes, and we've seen it time and time again. One's sense of well-being, stability, and safety in the world is foundational to everything we do, and by treating the symptoms of posttraumatic stress and helping people to regain that natural, relaxed balance to their nervous system, it sets up the stage for them being successful in every aspect of their life, whether that is at home, in their relationships, or at work in their career. And so much so that, in fact, we're in conversations with several employers and the door is certainly open to others taking Bootstrap and making it a workplace wellness program for employers that have large populations of veterans working for them because employers obviously see that is to the benefit. They want to hire veterans and help them to function at the highest level of their ability. We're taking steps right now to take the Bootstrap system and deploy it in the workplace to help employers not only attract veterans but also make them as successful as they possibly can be.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  If you're listing to the show right now and you have a brother, sister, husband, wife, child, friend that you believe this could really help, you've got to tell them about this show. You know, all these shows are archived at VoiceAmerica and at And I would really suggest that you pass this story on because you know how I feel about the veterans with disabilities. There are only two words you should say. You know what that is? Thank you. So we have a way now to help. We've got to look into that and pursue that.

   Eric, are you able to help people nationally? Is it just a certain location, or can you do it anywhere?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  We can do it anywhere. When we set out to develop the program, one of the things that we're trying to solve was the fact that so many people were falling through the cracks not only throughout the country, but all over the world. They would like to declare the need for help with logistical problems, getting to an appointment and the long backlog, they are all problems we're trying to solve in an effort just to try to push out this life-changing and powerful healing to people. So what we did was to make the program function in an online environment. So it is a 10-week-long program that is pushed out to people in their homes. It consists of what we call weekly yoga missions, and each mission covers a different aspect to the chronic aspect puzzle using entertaining and engaging animation videos. Videos are then paired with the practices that people can do in their own homes and they can go through the whole program at home without, and again, at no cost because it is free to troops and veterans.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  That is awesome. And obviously, you do this for companies.

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  We are just beginning to make forays into that realm so right now, we're working mostly providing this to individuals, but very soon, we're looking to begin to put programs together for employers who want to help their veteran populations, as well as others who are experiencing stress in their environments as well.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Well, hey, I think everyone should check into this. And we're going to talk a little more about this when we come back to close the show. If you just joined us, we've been talking to the president of Bootstrap, Eric Walrabenstein, and you will hear more when we come back.

   This is Joyce Bender, America's voice, where disability matters at Don't go away. 

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Welcome back, everyone. I really hope that you've been listening to the show today, but if you just joined us, remember the show is archived at, and captioned for all my friends in the deaf community. We've been talking to Eric Walrabenstein, the president of Bootstrap. You all know how I'm about helping veterans with disabilities, and that is why I wanted to make sure that I had Eric on the show.

   And, by the way, Eric, so I don't forget, someone listening to the show that wants to access the Bootstrap system, how do they do that?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  We have a Web site which is bootstrapusa.comm and all troops and veterans need to do is to access the site and there is log-in information and they can enter their service industry and they're on their way.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  One more time with that Web site. 


   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Tell everyone about the show because then they can go back and hear everything that we've talked about. And, you know, you said you can do this on a national basis. What I'm wondering is how can our listeners help you. What can they do to support you?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  The biggest thing right now is to simply spread the word. We have seats awaiting in the program for troops and veterans in need so we have rather modest marketing budget, but because we're putting all of our resources into the service provision so if everybody they know can get on their Facebook and send them out to their e-mail list and tell all of their friends and members and let everyone know about Bootstrap and how it can help troops and veterans heal from posttraumatic stress, that's the biggest thing. And I will add not to be shy about telling people because sometimes you tell somebody who tells somebody who tells somebody and they can save a life. So even though you're not telling another veteran or service member, and as long as you're telling somebody, it will be a huge help to those in need.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  That is so true. You know, there are so many things in life like that. It will not help you to not talk about. Not only will it help you, but think about what Eric said. What is more valuable than saving a life? Well, there isn't anything. If you can do that for one person oh, my goodness, think what you're doing so make sure you're telling everyone about this.

   If you were listening to this show earlier, 22 servicemen or women committing suicide a day, that's horrible. That's why I said prior don't keep it a secret. And, hey, tell everyone about the show.

   Eric, are you on FaceBook?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  We certainly are.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  And where do they go to?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  I should have that of the top of my head and I really don't, but I'll give it to you in just two seconds.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  And they can find you there? That would be good because if you can go, and I like that, it would really help, and if you can't do that or you forget to do that, don't forget to tell people about this show because there you go. They're going to get all the information at one time.

   You know, Eric, I am very impressed with your crusade and your commitment and your passion, you know, to help servicemen and women that are dealing with trauma or posttraumatic stress disorder so I have to ask this question. Who was your role model?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  That's an interesting question. You know, I don't really have a single role model. I have been so blessed in my life to have had so many wise and remarkable mentors and teachers and people in my life that have helped me to kind of do what I've done and to serve the people that I'm serving. It's really all about people doing remarkable things, and so that's what really inspires me is when everybody is doing anything but that is fully remarkable and amazing, and I've had so many people in my life like that. I just feel very lucky.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  And that's wonderful. It seems as if somehow you captured the giving back obviously from a young age and, as you said, passion about everything that you're doing. So, you know, good for you.

   Well, you've already done so much in your young life, but what would you consider your great accomplishment?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Well, I think that the work I'm doing now really is the greatest accomplishment for me because I'm lucky enough to work with thousands of people a year, and I see life changed every day. And so, you know, it's the cumulative set of experiences that I've had first as an Army officer and a corporate executive and, the marketing arena and then into the space of the yoga mind body wellness has kind of equipped me in a unique way to be of service. So the thing I'm proudest of is the fact that the organization that I run and the programs that I'm making available to people are literally lifting people up and helping them live happier and better lives.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  And I'm going to guess that that has a tremendous impact on you.

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  It has. It means everything to me for sure. There's an awful lot of work that goes on behind the scenes. This is by far the most difficult thing I've ever done, but by far the most rewarding as well.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  You know what? And for a young person with a disability listening to the show today who has been brutally bullied, and, by the way, we have lost students with disabilities who have been bullied to suicide called bullycide. What advice do you have for them?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Well, there's two things that come to mind. One is to try to recognize that they are not alone and that there are millions of people that care. I think that's the first step. But the second step is to seek help, and that help can come in many forms. It can just be connecting with a like-minded community of people. That helps you keep your center and your calm and your ease in the midst of the storm that is your life sometimes, or it could be any number of things. But the worst thing that I see is when we have a tendency to curl up in a little ball, feeling alone, and that's when things began to spiral out of control. So seeking help and recognizing people that are out there who care are the two biggest things that I would urge people to do.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  And maybe possibly starting exercise or some of the things that you're talking about.

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  Absolutely. There's just a whole range of different practices and modalities and activities that just spending a little bit of time with them can make quantum shifts, not only in our well-being, but in our outlook in our lives and our sense of hope and possibility in our lives.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  Well, Eric, first of all, it has been a pleasure having you on this show. As I said earlier, thank you for your service and thank you for giving back. I think this company is phenomenal. It's a good business and it's also doing good things so thank you so much.

   Before we close the show, Eric, what message would you like to leave with our listeners?

   >> ERIC WALRABENSTEIN:  I guess it would be this:  We all have the power to lift the world up or to push the world down. And when we lift the world up, we, too, get lifted. For myself, as I mentioned before, I have a great gift of being able to help people every day, and what I found is that when I work for the good of the person to my left and to my right and get out of my own sense of need to get somewhere, my life improves exponentially. So it's really kind through my experience anyway, the sense of service to others that ourselves are served as what I would really urge people to experiment with the giving and helping and looking out for all of those who are not only in our country, but in our world.

   >> JOYCE BENDER:  What a wonderful message, and what a timely message when it's the holiday season. I always say it's not about buying the gift; it's about giving the gift and the gift being your compassion, helping, reaching out to those less fortunate, and, really, that's what he's talking about and it's just wonderful, wonderful wisdom.


We end every show with a quote, and today, that quote is from Sam Walton who said, "Outstanding leaders go out of their way to boost the self-esteem of personnel. If people believe in themselves, it is amazing what they can accomplish." And doesn't that fit what we're talking about today?

   Thank you, Eric. Thank you to all our listeners. This is Joyce Bender, America's voice, where disability matters at Talk to you next week.

   (Broadcast concluded 1:56 PM CST)