Helping Veterans Participate in Their Own Healing with Mindfulness

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November 10, 2020

A family stands outside with an American flag

Remembering Honor, Sacrifice and Resilience This Veteran’s Day

After Halloween and before Thanksgiving comes another meaningful and important holiday – Veteran’s Day. Observed across the country every November 11th, Veteran’s Day honors those who have served in the United States armed forces. Although the typical Veteran’s Day parades and events that happen nationwide may look a little different this year as we continue to navigate the Coronavirus pandemic, it’s still important to find gratitude for the service and sacrifice of our armed forces.

Additionally, Veteran’s Day is also an important opportunity to bring awareness to and support veteran mental health. According to the National Alliance on Mental Illness, nearly one in four service men and women show signs of a mental health condition and although it can be difficult for veterans to talk about their trauma, there is a way that veterans can take part in their own healing process through mindfulness.

How Veterans Can Support Each Other With Mindfulness Practice

For Bernice Moore, an educator and mindfulness teacher who served in the USMC during the Vietnam War, Veteran’s Day is a day of mixed emotions.

“I think of my brother, who was killed in Vietnam. I think of the people in my family who served, and my nephews serving right now. My brother was a hero to me, and my dad – that was his career, and he sacrificed a lot,” she says. “I also think of our troops overseas, and I’m sending them gratitude for the fine work they’re doing.”

Bernice says the stigma attached to mental health is still present, and the level of toughness and resilience expected of armed forces members can make it challenging to begin the healing process.

“Trauma changes the trajectory of someone’s life, and it can be really hard for them to get the care they need,” she said.

Journey Forward With The M.M.A.P For Success

In an effort to help veterans heal, eMindful and Veteran’s PATH have come together to offer a program specifically tailored to veteran health – The Military Mindfulness Action Practices for Success, or M.M.A.P. Bernice has helped teach the M.M.A.P. to fellow veterans, and she says it’s been instrumental in changing the mental health narrative for this vulnerable community.

“This program is such a great and beautiful collaboration. We work with military folks who have really suffered with PTSD and other psychological and physical injuries,” she says. “I love working with veterans, and this collaboration is so committed to providing a successful and effective resource for them, it’s such an honor to help teach it.”

M.M.A.P. is a 10-session program that focuses on reducing stress and improving overall well-being through mindfulness practice, and it has received multiple accolades from veterans who have participated in the program.

Trevor Maxwell, retired Navy Sr. Chief, gave this testimonial about the M.M.A.P. program:

“I’ve been doing the military mindfulness action practices course on the mindfulness app. It’s been a good experience for me. So far kind of learning how to work through a lot of that stuff that’s been clouding my brain, especially after COVID, been taking on more responsibilities of work and taking care of the kids and you know, I never really had any formal training in that area. As I work through the material in the course and do the classes, this has been a fantastic learning experience for me. I feel like it helps me train myself on how to focus more and actually be better at the work that I’ve been doing throughout the day…I’m looking forward to doing more. And you know I hope to continue the practice in the future.”

Supporting Veteran Mental Health

M.M.A.P. is not only a helpful resource to veterans for themselves, but Bernice says that participating in a veteran-focused mindfulness program has a trickle-down effect on others as well.

“Veterans who have sacrificed and been wounded and who have taken these steps to participate in their own healing not only help themselves but also their loved ones and communities. The ability to self-regulate is a gift unto itself, and the world needs it so badly.” she says.

For veterans who are in need of healing, Bernice says the M.M.A.P. program is a positive way forward.

“Ten sessions over five weeks, that’s like 5 hours, and you could not spend that 5 hours making a better use of your time,” she says. “The content and quality of teachers is the best we could provide – try it and do it because it’s worth it and you’re worth it.”

Written by Becky Greiner