Our nation’s veterans are facing a health care crisis: more troops than ever before have returned home with the burden of posttraumatic stress. Estimates reflect that 800,000 of them will suffer from this challenging and often debilitating condition. They are living with life-threatening symptoms of mental illness: depression, frustration, sleeplessness, nightmares and flashbacks and feelings of isolation. Many are unable to work and are filled with anger and despair. And veterans are not the only ones affected. Their families suffer with them, while health care providers serving vets are dealing with their own stress and trauma.
Over the last ten years, The Center for Mind-Body Medicine has trained about 800 clinicians and peer counselors who work with veterans and active duty military. The New York Times article, For Veterans, a Surge of New Treatments for Trauma, highlights and praises CMBM’s work, saying, “The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s program…is the most comprehensive of all of them…and it is the one with the strongest evidence that it works to cure PTSD.”
The CMBM model is designed to effectively address this crisis. As described in The New York Times, For Veterans, A Surge of New Treatments for Trauma: “The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s program…is the most comprehensive of all of them, giving veterans a variety of different strategies to choose from: breathing, meditation, guided visual imagery, bio-feedback, self-awareness, dance, self-expression, drawing. And it is the one with the strongest evidence that it works to cure PTSD.”
Since 2007, CMBM has been working to bring the population-wide healing model that has worked so well in traumatized regions overseas to US troops, veterans and their families. We train military, VA and civilian health providers working with these populations nationwide, as well as veteran peer counselors. We bring them to our annual Mind-Body Medicine Professional Trainings, and provide ongoing supervision as they incorporate mind-body skills groups into their institutions and communities.
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine recognizes that many of the issues faced by the VA are systemic and require holistic and innovative solutions. Now, more than ever, the VA needs a program which creates a climate of healing, one that significantly enhances depleted staff morale, as well as provides clinical benefits to patients.
CMBM is looking to combine our years of experience working with veterans and within whole hospital systems to address the needs of the VA on a larger scale. In order to advance the kind of life-changing program CMBM has a history of accomplishing, we would need the assistance of a visionary hospital leader, support from a dedicated and practical governmental leader, and the endorsement of the Veterans Integrated Services Networks.
From A Fighting Chance, Southwest Airlines Spirit Magazine, Feb. 2014:
When a vet is in his body for the first time, stuff comes up. It’s like when you’re frostbit. You don’t feel anything, but when you start coming out of it, it’s painful. They’ll talk about how much it hurts. It’s scary. But stay with it [the mind-body skills they learn], and what you start noticing is the veterans get back their fuel for life.Joseph Graca, a clinical psychologist who has run mind-body skills groups at the VA in St. Cloud, MN