When an American soldier was accused of killing 16 people in Afghanistan earlier this month it generated much discussion about how to preserve the mental and emotional health of our troops. Speculation that the soldier suffered from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder hasn't been confirmed, but the tragedy has opened up discussion about PTSD and the other stresses that come with serving in the military.
A recent article in the Miami Herald explored how yoga can help soldiers with PTSD. "There is no magic pill that can erase your past or what you have seen but the practice helps me to cope," U.S. Marines Sgt. Hugo Patrocinio told a reporter. "Now I am not afraid to go to sleep."
The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs reports that between 11 and 20 percent of veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars have PTSD. It's a daunting statistic. But programs that teach yoga and meditation as coping mechanisms are helping to improve life for veterans and their families.
Organizations such as Connected Warriors, Yoga for Vets, Yoga Warriors, the Coming Home Project, Warriors at Ease,Veterans Yoga Project, and Wellness for Warriors offer yoga classes to veterans and their families or training for yoga teachers to work with vets are filling the need. All of the organizations are reporting steady growth as more troops are being sent home.
Diane Callan founded Wellness for Warriors in 2009 to teach military families about integrative lifestyle solutions such as yoga, chiropractic care, acupuncture, andnutrition has seen the benefits first-hand. "I personally believe that when you are able to experience or elicit peace of mind from within, you can share that with your spouse, your family, your community and the world," she said.