The primary objective of Meghan’s Foundation is raising awareness and support for veterans and active-duty military who may be experiencing symptoms of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). We do this by developing free, trauma-sensitive programs of yoga and meditation for military, veterans, and their spouses or partners.
PTSD and Veterans:
Post-traumatic stress disorder is a physical and mental health condition involving the stress response system. It can develop following a traumatic event or a sustained traumatic time period such as war. Symptoms may not appear for years and can come and go. They can include intrusive thoughts, avoidant/numbing symptoms, anxiety, withdrawal from family and society, hyper-vigilance, physical pain, and many more, to the extent that the symptoms interfere with everyday activities and relationships.
Between 12% and 20% of OIF, OEF & Desert Storm Veterans have PTSD in a given year, and 30% of Vietnam Veterans have had PTSD in their lifetime, according to the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs. Suicide and reckless PTSD-related behaviors are leading causes of death among veterans who have returned from Iraq and Afghanistan.
How yoga and meditation can help:
From the Veterans Administration to the Pentagon, yoga and meditation programs for veterans are becoming commonplace, and proving themselves to be effective for individuals with PTSD.
Many studies have shown that yoga and meditation can be effective tools to help cope with symptoms of PTSD. See www.warriorsatease.org/resources/research. As explained by a Harvard Medical School professor, who conducted a study funded by the U.S. Defense Department: “PTSD is a disorder involving dysregulation of the stress response system, and one of the most powerful effects of yoga is to work on cognitive and physiological stress… Through the control of attention on a target — the breath, the postures, the body — that kind of awareness generates changes in the brain… and these changes in thinking focus more in the moment, less in the past, and it quiets down the anxiety-provoking chatter going on in the head. People become less reactive and the hormone-related stress cycle starts to calm down.” Harvard, Brigham Study: Yoga Eases Veterans’ PTSD Symptoms, available at http://commonhealth.wbur.org/2010/12/harvard-brigham-medical-study-yoga-veterans-ptsd.
Meghan’s Foundation programs:
Veterans who have attended the Foundation’s free yoga and meditation classes include men and women with ages ranging from their 20s through their 70s. These veterans report that they are experiencing better sleep and concentration, the ability to find calm when presented with challenging situations, and generally an improved quality of life.