CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- Linda Sodaro is creating massage therapy programs to help veterans returning from Iraq and Afghanistan.
A nationally certified massage therapist, the South Charleston woman works with HART, or Healing Appalachia's Returning Troops.
"I have never been in a war zone, but have had plenty of trauma in my own life," Sodaro said.
"We want to make people comfortable in their own skins. This could be a huge problem for our communities if people are not here to help."
Sodaro recently completed an eight-week program in Charleston that helped four veterans and two of their family members.
"Veterans can come to see us five times over a period of eight weeks. They can also send a spouse one of those times."
The Rev. Ricardo Flippin, program coordinator for the West Virginia Council of Churches, helped fund Sodaro's efforts to start the HART program, which now has seven people working in Charleston, Parkersburg and Huntington.
The West Virginia Council of Churches has its own initiative -- Caring Beyond the Yellow Ribbon, or CARE-NET -- to help returning veterans and their families.
The Claude Worthington Benedum Foundation and Attorney General Darrell McGraw help fund CARE-NET's work.
"Last year, we held competitive bids for organizations within the state to submit proposals to us to meet objectives in supporting veterans," Flippin said.
"Sodaro submitted a very unique approach to the healing process that no one else was offering, but an approach readily accepted in other parts of the country. We felt her proposal was worthy to fund."
CARE-NET began funding Sodaro's work about a year ago.
"She has attempted to come up with a network throughout the state," Flippin said. "She will probably need more funding to continue. Our funding will not sustain her another year."
Sodaro also leads a mind-body skills group for Lest We Forget, a group supporting veterans suffering from post-traumatic syndrome disorders, or PTSDs.
"When someone has PTSD, their body is stressed, very damaged," Soldaro said. "And PTSD does not just hurt veterans. It can also hurt everyone around them.