Healing Our Troops
A Model for Military Caregivers, Active Duty Troops, Veterans, and Their Families
Our nation’s veterans are facing a health care crisis of immense proportions: 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.
Why it Matters
Current services for post-traumatic stress disorder, depression, and traumatic brain injury are badly needed by military but poorly integrated into systems of care. Many who are quite troubled are undetected by standard screening procedures and over half of those who are referred to therapy choose not to go at all. Seeking assistance through traditional psychiatric therapies is stigmatizing and stifles career movement. People on military bases lose track of troops when they leave, often serve families poorly, and don’t communicate well to the VA about the needs of discharged vets.
Many suffer in isolation while their families bear the burden of their untreated stress. Symptoms include irritability, depression, alcoholism and drug abuse, as well as family dysfunction and physical and emotional abuse. The costs are family relationships, jobs, and functionality at home and in society. The future – and even the lives – of these servicemen and women and their families are at stake. According to the Department of Veterans Affairs, veterans are committing suicide at a rate 22 per day.
The MBM model is one that I both personally and professionally believe in and have seen first-hand the effects it has on the veterans who learn the skills and participate in the groups.
Michelle Hamilton Ph.D
VA Staff Psychologist, PTSD Clinic
New Orleans, LA
What CMBM is Doing
The Center for Mind-Body Medicine has been training caregivers working with active duty military, veterans and their families since 2007 to bring its evidence-based model of self-care, self-awareness and group support to those suffering stress-related disorders. More than 30 Veterans Administration health centers and clinics have been represented at CMBM trainings, and personnel from as many as 30 military bases are currently using the CMBM model.
Published research on the CMBM approach has shown decreases in symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder of up to 90%, significant decreases in depression and hopelessness, and significantly greater life satisfaction. We see individuals, families and communities reconnecting with themselves and one another, finding relief from their symptoms and fulfillment in their lives.
“The Center for Mind-Body Medicine’s program…is the most comprehensive of all of them, giving participants 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.” – The New York Times, “For Veterans, a Surge of New Treatments for Trauma” by Tina Rosenberg (September 26, 2012).
CMBM offers an effective model of care that teaches mindfulness, fosters acceptance, and facilitates re-connection with self and the social environment. I can say this without hesitation because I have personally experienced the positive impact of this model, and I have seen it work with my clients.
Hillary S. Mooney
Colorado Springs, CO.
How You Can Help
CMBM is now committed to training hundreds pr, indeed, thousands of clinicians and caregivers working with military and veterans. They in turn will bring healing to tens or hundreds of thousands of active duty veterans and their families.
This work is underway in Northern California. In January, CMBM will be significantly enlarging its program in the San Francisco VA hospital and its satellite clinics, training 30 key via clinicians. An even larger program is being developed in Virginia. These efforts complement and expand the work already being done in VA facilities in Minnesota, Louisiana, New York, New Jersey and elsewhere across the country, as well as the CMBM program at Bethesda Naval Hospital and on a dozen military bases.
Many veterans are more comfortable finding help outside the VA structure, and CMBM is actively creating ways to reach them wherever they might be. We have trained more than 20 Red Cross volunteers who work with veterans, as well as a network of veteran peer counselors in Wichita, Kansas and are also planning to train caregivers working with community-based groups, such as Swords to Ploughshares, TAPS (Tragedy Assistance Program for Survivors), Bastion, and Iraq and Afghan Veterans of America (IAVA).
The Impact of Your Support
A small gift can make an enormous positive impact:
|$ 25||Complete training materials for a caregiver or peer counselor receiving training in CMBM’s model of self-care and group support|
|$ 100||Enable a veteran to attend a CMBM workshop at either his or her local VA facility or with a community-based group working with veterans|
|$ 250||Underwrite a mind-body skills group of 10 veterans coming together weekly to address their stress and trauma and to support one another’s healing journey|
|$ 1,000||Provide a scholarship for a clinician or peer counselor to attend initial training in CMBM’s model of self-care and group support|