Blog

Meditation and Veterans

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By James Pond, US Marine Corps Veteran Executive Director, Veteran’s PATH The mission statement at Veteran’s PATH is that we “enable returning veterans to rediscover meaning, purpose, and joy in their lives through mindfulness, meditation, and a safe community. Through practical tools of meditation and mindfulness, physical and outdoor experiences, and a community of camaraderie, veterans rediscover peace, acceptance, transformation, and honor in a new journey forward.” The question that often arises for many is – what is mediation and mindfulness? John Kabat Zinn had an iconic answer stating, “Mindfulness is awareness that arises through paying attention, on purpose, in the present moment, non-judgmentally.” For me, a simpler explanation is that mindfulness is “knowing what is happening while it’s happening.” So many of us, particularly veterans, live our lives on ‘autopilot’ without the ability to be in the moment and

American Indian Veterans Supported by Veterans Center

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The Rocky Boy Veterans Center plays a vital role in the lives of American Indian Veterans on the Rocky Boy’s Indian Reservation as the only Veteran service provider on the reservation. The Veteran population consists of a range of age groups of Veterans who have served during the Korean War to OEF/OIF Veterans as well during periods of Peacetime and Service Members who continue to serve the Nation today. The goals of the Rocky Boy Veterans Center are to ensure Rocky Boy Veterans and Service Members receive the care and benefits they have earned through their service to this country and the Chippewa-Cree people; and to advance and develop the Rocky Boy Veteran community, ultimately furthering the advancement of the ChippewaCree people. Rocky Boy, Montana is located in the heart of the Bears Paw Mountains. Because it is a highly

Blair’s Sanctuary Garden Helps Women Veterans Heal

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According to the Women Veterans Task Force of the Department of Veterans Affairs, women make up the fastest growing group of veterans - more than 10% of the total U.S. Veteran population in 2015. Women also now take part in active combat. As a result, they suffer injuries similar to those experienced by male soldiers. But these women veterans have very different needs with higher service-connected disabilities than males. They also have higher incidences Military Sexual Trauma (MST). One in five female vets who use the VA for health care is identified as suffering from MST as a result of rape, harassment, or assault. This can lead to additional problems, such as depression, substance abuse, and PTSD. Women vets suffering from MST are four times more likely to have PTSD and six times more likely to have multiple mental health

Operation Tohidu Reconnects Warriors To Move Forward With Positivity

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A key component of working with veterans and service members affected by service-related trauma is combating debilitating effects of physical and emotional isolation, self-judgment, survivor guilt, and “shutting down.” In an adventurous context within a secluded natural environment, Melwood Veterans Services’ (MVS) Operation Tohidu® (Tohidu) retreat program reconnects warriors with their inherent strength of character – and with one another, to reframe their past experience and move forward with positivity. Tohidu’s® motto is “Peace with the Past, through Power in the Present.” Experienced facilitators (combat veterans and trauma survivors), licensed social workers, and support staff use adventurous activities and group discussion to expose issues that often affect participants for decades. Working with peers, building camaraderie, and context through shared experience, Tohidu® participants confront recurring behaviors and self-destructive thought-processes, and learn holistic techniques to manage symptoms of service-related trauma and facilitate

Intentional Communities for Veterans and Their Families

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Intentional communities are planned residential communities designed from the ground up to address a specific social challenge and foster a high degree of cohesion among residents. Similar to co-housing models that are peer based or inter-generational, intentional communities are organized around health and wellness, an economic benefit, or a collective purpose. Bastion is America’s first intentional community created to address the physical, emotional, and social challenges faced by veteran families with life-long rehabilitative needs. The purpose of the community is: (a) to incorporate a development strategy that not only creates affordable housing and community-based supports for a defined number of households who need it the most, but also (b) to leverage a collective impact approach by providing resources to help more families in the metro New Orleans area. Many veteran families in our target population have a unique vulnerability to

Accelerated Wellness Program: There is not “One Size Fits All”

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Veterans Alternative understands that there is not a “one size fits all” when it comes to addressing mental health for our Combat Veterans. For this reason, our mission is to improve the quality of life of our Nations Warriors. One of our Accelerated Wellness Program participants, Stef, wished to share this about our program: “Since attending the Veterans Alternative program, I feel like I have regained control over my future. I can now look at situations in a positive light, even under the most stressful circumstances. I have finally been able to accept everything for what it is and live my life optimistically. Veterans Alternative taught me mindfulness activities that allow me to stay in the present and not let my reoccurring traumatic memories control me”. Veterans Alternative recognizes the need to meet our participants where they are and uses

DVNF Awards Nearly a Half Million in New Grant Funding

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The Disabled Veterans National Foundation has announced that it will award $457,182 to 23 organizations as part of its spring session of Capacity Building grants. Capacity Building Grants are DVNF’s way of touching the lives of veterans through organizational partners throughout the country. These partners address critical needs of veterans in their respective communities including Whether through addressing the needs of homeless veterans with housing and shelter or providing programs and services to treat PTSD, or anything in between, these 23 organizations were selected because of the impact of the work they do for veterans. “Each one of these organizations helps to tackle challenges faced by our veterans, and none of them do it the same way,” said DVNF CEO Joseph VanFonda (USMC SgtMaj. Ret.). “We would like to congratulate and thank each one of these organizations for their commitment

The Vision of the Disabled Veterans National Foundation

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Our Vision Every veteran has made sacrifices, and so many continue to face unimaginable difficulty for years after their service ends. DVNF works to meet their needs in unique ways, and our vision for the future is to provide hope for our heroes. Every veteran who is working to overcome mental and emotional challenges must do so in their own way. Some cope with this through outdoor recreation, some find peace through art or working with their hands, and others just need a community to share their experiences with. That's why DVNF's programs are unique, and that we work to enhance programs in veterans' communities throughout the country. We also work to meet the needs of our homeless and low-income veterans who are struggling to make ends meet, or need gainful employment. See why our work is so important, and where

VIDEO: “I’m still trying to find my way back home”

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DVNF's Health & Comfort program provides veterans with vital necessities, like clothing, personal care items, and health and hygiene supplies, but it also provides something else - hope. Maurice told us that he served in Vietnam, "deep in the jungle," as he said, from 1969-1970. It's truly unbelievable the amount of hell one person can experience in just 13 short months. Maurice's voice begins to fade a bit as he confesses that this single year of his life has impacted him since then. "I'm still trying to find my way back home." This quote is a brutal reality, and the horrors of war our men and women face aren't limited to their combat experience. The trauma they face often lasts for years, just like Maurice. PTSD affects the mind, body and spirit of veterans, and can be so difficult to

VIDEO: Veterans Resource Fair Means More Than You Think

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"We served, but right now, you're helping us." DVNF's Resource Fair hosted veterans in the DC Metro region, giving them a chance to come see all the services that are available to them in the area from government agencies and nonprofits. But to many, it meant more than just seeing what's out there. For some, this was an opportunity to experience a warmth and welcoming they haven't felt in a long time. For others, this was a chance to meet new people who have had similar experiences and understand their pain. Watch this powerful video, and see why it's so important to reach out and help our veterans.