Roosevelt Smith is one of a handful of Louisville, Kentucky veterans benefitting from barn dancing, which he says helps ease the mental health issues from which he’s suffered since the Gulf War
"It's a way of calming yourself, an outlet so to speak," Smith told Fox News. "We have a lot of things that we do as far as prescription drugs, but this right here is the best prescription I've had, with no side effects."
Smith and a few dozen other veterans diagnosed with post-tramautic stress disorder and other ailments attend a weekly group dancing class at an AmVets post in Louisville, Kentucky. Together, men and women of all ages join hands and move through barn-style dances. Lights stay dimmed, the music stays upbeat, and jarring percussion is avoided.
Fox reports that the idea for dance therapy grew out of a 2011 conversation between Deborah Denenfeld and a Fort Knox psychiatrist about a dancing program for active duty military. Denenfeld determined that barn-style dances were best for military members, and she eventually developed the "Dancing Well" program for veterans struggling with mental health issues in 2013.
"This traditional dance, you might think of it as barn dance that's been tested by hundreds of years of communities dancing it, is so simple and pure it's a natural for this population," explains Denenfeld.
Darlene Messler, an Army vet diagnosed with PTSD, came to watch the merriment even though she’s on crutches. "It takes me back to my childhood, in grade school, doing square-dancing," she told Fox. "When I'm here, I don't have to worry about that. I just have fun, we're all just here as a family and just having fun."