Developing military leaders who are smart, strong and courageous — both on and off of the battlefield — is essential. We are still learning how to create soldiers prepared for the emotional wounds of war. We need to teach coping skills to help these men and women reduce the terrible effects of post-traumatic stress disorder.
Veterans, who have experienced the horrors of war, are the most common sufferers. More than 500,000 returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from psychological injuries — including PTSD or major depression.
But even military cadets, when in a highly disciplined and rigorous academic environment, can feel similarly overwhelmed. Under intense stress, many men and women just give up. They don’t have the tools to stay focused and grounded.
We must give them the tools they need. This means helping them to be successful socially, emotionally and in a military setting. Our future leaders need this knowledge.
Transcendental Meditation has demonstrated an ability to help those suffering from PTSD and high stress environments. Recent trials of TM’s effects on psychological distress have revealed: reduced perceived stress, improved constructive thinking, decreased state anxiety, increased behavioral coping and reduced depression. This is the focus of the David Lynch Foundation, which highlights TM’s positive effects.
TM helps military cadets become more resilient, according to Norwich University studies, so that they can be better soldiers on the battlefield as well as better equipped to recover from the traumas of war and have a normal life after returning home.
Evidence suggests that TM may help people handle the stresses that come before as well as during military service and when they return to civilian life.
A 2011 Norwich University study, with funding from the David Lynch Foundation and the Educational Foundation of America, showed the positive effects that TM can have on helping students cope with the stresses of leadership in being a member of the Norwich University Corps of Cadets. TM has proven to be a highly effective coping strategy and has set a high bar to further explorations and research.
Many cadets who enter the military will likely be exposed to trauma that can have a destructive effect on their lives and the lives of their families. Whether a veteran or a military cadet, the method of dealing with PTSD is crucial.
For these “invisible wounds” can take a high toll — on family, quality of life and work performance. There is also a greater risk for violent and self-destructive behavior.
Effective treatments have been difficult to identify. Many expensive combinations of chemicals, for example, have been explored. But TM is an evidence-based technique that is available anywhere and at any time. Those who practice it develop the ability to improve daily stresses in the workplace and in life.
The technique helps address anxiety, mood change and situational awareness. Its powerful impact can produce long-term results in improving daily lives.
The goal is clear: to develop the whole person with maximized abilities and capacity in all situations.
Richard W. Schneider, a rear admiral USCGR (Ret.) is the president of Norwich University. The David Lynch Foundation on Thursday is hosting its first annual National Summit, investigating effects of Transcendental Meditation on active-duty personnel and veterans suffering from PTSD, cadets in training — and their families.
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Related articles: Washington Post: Does Transcendental Meditation help veterans with PTSD? | Norwich University President Receives “Resilient Warrior Award” at National Veterans Summit in Washington, DC | Washington Post: VA testing whether meditation can help treat PTSD
Tags: David Lynch Foundation, depression, Educational Foundation of America, evidence-based technique, invisible wounds, Military Cadets, Norwich University Corps of Cadets, Post-Traumatic Stess Disorder, psychological injuries, PTSD, reduce stress, Richard W. Schneider, TM, Transcendental Meditation