The Pentagon recently reported a troubling Department of Veterans Affairs report released last month showed that in 2017, 6,100 veterans died by suicide and at least 60,000 veterans have died by suicide in the last decade, Military.com reported. Today just 6% of the population at large has served in the military and 19% of police officers are Veterans, according to an analysis by the U.S. Census Data Marshall Project. Military and police veterans have been the warriors on the front lines of fighting wars both domestically and abroad. However, being on the front lines can take its toll and many times the dangers of the job are all too real. High levels of stress or traumatic experiences can leave deep wounds in places that aren’t always visible to the eye or out in the open for others to see. So, the real question is how can we as a community continue to help save the lives of Veterans?
Understanding PTSD symptoms
PTSD is one of the more common issues that can arise from traumatic experiences but in order to understand it we must understand the symptoms. PTSD can have varying symptoms from mild to severe and anything in between. These symptoms can be anything from flashbacks, nervousness or anxiety, avoiding crowds or people, to angry outbursts, irritability, trouble with attention, or being tense or most commonly, not sleeping more than 2-3 hours. PTSD most commonly develops from traumatic events like combat, terrorism, car accidents, crime, natural disaster or physical injury.
A story of post traumatic growth
I experienced PTSD symptoms when I was 20 years old he was in a car accident that changed my life, where my girlfriend died in the accident and I suffered a bad concussion. Throughout the next 2 years I developed symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress and there were many hard times as I struggled with the loss of my best friend, crowds, loud noises, anxiety, negative thoughts, anger outbursts and depression. Then he saw a “Time Magazine” article that claimed the best natural stress reliever was mindfulness meditation. From that time forward I began to develop a mindfulness practice I learned to regulate and control my thinking and emotions. This has allowed me to change my physiology and change my relationship with myself, others and life. I am still not perfect in any way but I believe that I was able to shift my PTSD symptoms into Post Traumatic Growth. We all have an amazing ability within each of us to learn to cultivate the power of the mind and move through many obstacles and challenges more effectively. I have experienced the wonderful benefits of mindfulness and have seen my clients, many of whom are military active duty, veterans and even police officers, benefit by reducing many of the PTS and trauma symptoms.
Mindfulness based evidence for PTSD
Mindfulness does have some evidence reporting that it helps relieve PTSD and trauma symptoms. Mindful.org also reported, researchers found that individuals who participated in the mindfulness-based interventions demonstrated significantly lower levels of PTSD symptoms following treatment than various control group members. According to another study data published in Psychiatric Research and Clinical Practice, Military veterans also experienced improvements in symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) following mindfulness-based stress reduction (MBSR) treatment.
Mindfulness based training to help save the lives of veterans
With many Veterans struggling from suicide and the symptoms of PTSD, people are looking for alternatives that give Veterans coping strategies to improve their daily lives. With these strategies combined with a mindfulness practice many veterans have the potential to achieve post traumatic growth. As with many complementary and integrative health approaches, mindfulness-based meditation should be a supplement to, not a replacement for, trauma focused behavioral psychotherapies. Mindfulness-based meditation may not be for everyone but it has worked for many people and the evidence is beginning to mount. Therefore through the experience of many who have established a mindfulness practice going down The Path of Mindfulness can be one of the ways to help save the lives of Veterans.