PHILADELPHIA (CBS) — A veteran city councilman who served in the armed forces attended a special cooking class at the Free Library of Philadelphia, tailored specifically for veterans.

Chef Tracy McGuigan is herself a veteran. She says the monthly veterans-only cooking class at the Free Library of Philadelphia’s Culinary Literacy Center helps folks with this essential life skill.

“After years of someone else cooking for them or traveling around and not being able to have a home,” McGuigan said.

Councilman David Oh, the only veteran on City Council, attended the class. He says more than education though, what’s important is camaraderie.

“It’s nice for veterans to get together and de-stress over an activity, over learning how to cook,” Oh said. “Veterans make up a small percentage of the population and for those who have been involved in combat or other traumatic disrupting experiences, being associated to others who share the experience is a very positive way to relate.”

He’s onto something. Librarian Jamie Bowers says cooking has been shown to be therapeutic, as it can alleviate some of the symptoms of PTSD, stress and chronic pain.

“That’s because cooking is a meditative process,” Bowers said. “It helps you clear your mind, focus on another task and at the end you’ve got something that you’ve accomplished.”

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