The Chris Jones Story: Helping Veterans Battle PTSD using Float Therapy
Story by Jeanette Wages | Brought to you by Defense Credit Union Council
Though he served for 26 years in the Military, Chris Jones never expected the Veterans Affairs Administration to give him an 80% disability rating for PTSD. “I’d never thought about what PTSD was. I’d heard of it, but I had never thought about the symptoms -- and that I definitely had it. My fight or flight response never truly turned off”. Chris originally enlisted in the Army, then decided to go to college through the Air Force ROTC program. He served as an Air Force officer for six years before laterally transferring to the Navy, where he spent the rest of his career until he retired in March 2016.
Chris joined the military as a way to serve and give back to his country. Additionally, the military gave him the opportunity to travel the world and have a life he never thought he would experience. Upon retirement, Chris became a government contractor as the civilian version of his last assignment with the Navy. Rather than begin his new job immediately, his employer wanted him to use his terminal leave to take some personal time off. Though not his original plan, Chris is happy that he did.
During his time off, Chris decided to take a trip to Peru to hike the Inca Trail. While in the Peruvian wilderness hiking and camping along the trail, Chris realized that he was not able to turn off his sense of hypervigilance - his eyes were always scanning, brain always on alert. As he talked about this sensation with fellow hikers, one discussed with him the concept of floatation tanks as a way to reset and reconnect with oneself. Upon his return home, Chris decided to investigate the concept further.
One day, after a long day of work at the Pentagon, Chris took a detour on his way home to a Bethesda, MD floatation center — one of the only in the area. He noticed how tense he was sitting in traffic and thought there was no way he would be able to enjoy the float experience but he went anyway. With his very first float, he noticed a positive difference in his blood pressure and general outlook. He pursued the experience twice more at other flotations centers and noticed how his attitude was positively altered and his PTSD responses became less severe. Convinced of the therapeutic value of flotation, he bought a flotation tank for his home. Slowly, as his brain reset during his morning floats, he felt the universe push him to open his own center as a way to give back to his community.
To expand on this new endeavor, Chris enrolled in an accelerated night MBA program. When the course work focused on building theoretical business plans, Chris used the knowledge to develop his own business plan, taking the first step to making his dream a reality. Armed with his life savings and Thrift Savings Plan, he was halfway to raising the money he needed to open a center of his own. Chris’ dream was finally realized when he approached his personal credit unions for assistance.
“I had heard that both Pentagon and Navy Federal Credit Unions work with small businesses and I had been using them both in my personal banking for years.”
Synergy Float Center opened in November 2017. Since then, Chris has left his job at the Pentagon to focus solely on his business. Synergy has become an oasis for a very loyal clientele who vary from people just looking for an escape to those struggling with serious PTSD, depression, anxiety and other mental health issues. For both the center and their clients, March 2020 and the COVID 19 pandemic hit hard. Synergy was forced to close their doors for two months. During that time, Chris developed a plan to safely reopen. Chris reached out to the Department of Health with his plan to reopen the center while keeping the staff and clients safe and healthy. “The center is already perfect for social distancing and isolation. Each tank and treatment is in separate rooms which already had strict sanitation routines between clients. People walk in and they think they are the only ones in the building when we are in fact fully booked.”
Synergy Float Center was created to help change the world for the better, one float at a time. Chris’ mission to optimize humanity and change the way the western world approaches healthcare has not only changed Chris’ life, but the lives of so many others, allowing them to experience the healing and therapeutic affects of floating. In an effort to share his story, Chris founded the National Float It Forward Association, a nationally recognized nonprofit, to help active military, veterans, first responders, and their immediate families experience floatation therapy free of charge across the United States at their local float center.
The sales of Chris’ book, Floatosophy - an interactive, self guided journal on getting the most out of your float - helped to fund the nonprofit. For Chris, Synergy has never been about making money, but helping others achieve true wellbeing and purpose.
1240 N Pitt St, Alexandria, VA 22314
A Note from Defense Credit Union Council
This past year has shown the vital importance of small businesses to our overall economy and financial well-being. Access to loans to start up or sustain a business is crucial to keep our Country strong. Add in The Federal Reserve Bank of New York and the U.S. Small Business Administration study from November 2018 that found that military veterans are struggling more than non-veterans to receive business funding from banks and other financial institutions, and you have an even bigger need to support those who served our country.
Defense Credit Unions already have the mission of serving the U.S. Armed Forces through the entire military life cycle to include veterans. However, current caps on member business lending hinder Defense Credit Unions. Nonetheless, there is a solution in the works that would allow credit unions to exempt Veteran member business loans from this cap. Contact your representative today to show your support for veteran owned businesses by supporting the reintroduction of the Veterans Members Business Loan Act bill.
“Defense Credit Unions are an integral part of their communities’ financial health and well-being. Working with Veterans to support their business dreams is a natural fit and one more way to thank them for their service to our Nation." - Tony Hernandez, President/CEO at Defense Credit Union Council