Luke Jensen will share how transcendental meditation TM helped him at Healing the Hidden Wounds of War forum in Fairfield Saturday. The event is an open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD or PTS.
After spending a year in Afghanistan investigating cases as a military police officer in 2009, Luke Jensen was immediately given a series of medications for anxiety and sleep to treat Post Traumatic Stress Disorder symptoms (PTSD).
Coming home and the medications he was prescribed before his discharge didn’t fix his problem. Through the day his anxiety was so high that his fingertips pruned from sweating and at night he dreamed of the military.
He returned to his civilian life, but he found his PTSD symptoms so debilitating that after a night of drinking he swallowed all the medication he had.
“I thought it would be the easy way to go,” Jensen said.
Jensen swallowed pills hoping to die from an overdose, but he survived. On another occasion, he pointed a gun at himself, but he stopped himself from pulling the trigger. His family convinced him to seek additional help and eventually he found some relief through transcendental meditation.
“This is the first thing that gave me relief,” Jensen said.
Jensen plans to share his full story 2 p.m. Saturday in Fairfield at a seminar called Healing the Hidden Wounds of War. The event is an open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD.
Jensen is still here to tell his story, but the U.S. Department of Defense released figures in June showing that 154 active duty troops committed suicide in the first 155 days of 2012, as reported in many media outlets including the LA Times.
One a Day, a term once used to describe the loss of WWII veterans as they grew old, now quantifies the suicide rate among American active duty troops.
As a reminder, Time Magazine’s “One a Day” cover is taped to a file cabinet in the Story County Veterans Affairs Office where Jensen now serves as an office coordinator.
Self-inflicted deaths have surpassed casualties on the battlefield.
“It’s a problem on the rise,” Jensen said.
The former undercover police officer said he was ashamed to admit he had a problem at first.
“No one thought I would be the one to have a problem. I was the guy cheering everyone up,” Jensen said.
He’d seen dead bodies as a police officer and though he investigated cases in dangerous places as a military police officer he never faced fire. He couldn’t understand why he would have a problem. Seeing dead servicemen wearing the same uniform as him had a different impact. He thought his own death was inevitable and thought about suicide during service.
Jensen tried a number of therapies including individual and group therapy and a rapid eye movement technique. He shared his story with the media in 2011, because he was upset.
He’d been fired from his job with the Story County Sheriff’s Office and he felt that the Army was failing to deal with the suicide/PTSD problem and that civilians didn’t know how to deal with it.
Jerry Yellins, co-director for Operation Warrior Wellness, read Jensen’s story and offered him a scholarship so that he could learn Transcendental Meditation, something that had also given Yellin relief.
Jensen learned the meditation technique over a weekend in August 2011 and said a month later he was able to stop taking his anxiety medications.
He practices the technique daily spending about 20 minutes before and after work in a quiet place to focus on his mantra. He compares it to taking a power nap.
Jensen has since been given a new job with the county at the veteran’s affairs office but will never be able to resume duties as a police officer. PTSD symptoms can improve, but the diagnosis is for life.
Jensen said the military is researching treatment options and seems open minded.
“They still have not found a solution, I’m trying to give another option that’s out there,” Jensen said.
Transcendental meditation is just one thing that could work, he said. Learning the technique is free to veterans thanks to scholarships through the David Lynch Foundation.
“This is well worth your time. If it doesn’t work, time, is the only thing you are out of,” Jensen said.
See: Fairfield Ledger cover article by Diane Vance: Combat stress subject of public forum Saturday | Veterans speak out on post-traumatic stress, offer a proven way to heal PTSD | Healing the Hidden Wounds of War: open forum for Iowa veterans and their families affected by PTSD, sponsored by Operation Warrior Wellness