Throughout a majority of this course, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has been a significant topic of discussion. After serving in the military for several years, I have personally met many Soldiers who suffer from PTSD. Many of the aforementioned Soldiers, who are clearly suffering from PTSD continue to live their daily lives and leave their symptoms untreated while their personal lives suffer immensely. After reviewing the arousal and reactivity symptoms in Module 4, their symptoms almost serve as a “rite of passage” within the military; which include being easily startled, feeling on edge or tense, difficulty sleeping, and angry outbursts (Rousseau, 2021). Unfortunately, some of the Soldiers who left their symptoms untreated and suffered from PTSD are not around to speak about their experiences today. Upon returning from Afghanistan, several members committed suicide, were arrested from numerous Driving While Intoxicated arrests, involved in Domestic Violence incidents, etc. Similar to many volunteer workers and former military members who have taken the extra steps in order to help veterans who suffer from PTSD, I have sat here wondering; what can we do to help?
Fortunately, we have come a long way from learning about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder, considering in 1917, PTSD was referred to as “not yet diagnosed” (Rousseau, 2021). By World War II, PTSD was referred to as “war neurosis, battle fatigue, or combat exhaustion” (Rousseau, 2021). After reading The Body Keeps the Score, very little was understood about PTSD as Dr. Van Der Kolk explains when referring to the VA (veterans affairs) they originally stated, “It has never been shown that PTSD is relevant to the mission of the Veterans Administration” (Van Der Kolk 2014, page 19). Years later, we know now that the VA spends a significant amount of its time and resources aiding veterans who suffer from PTSD.
I have personally reviewed a significant amount of literature throughout the last several weeks which discusses many of the different programs that are available to active duty and retired military members. I can say from firsthand experience that there are numerous programs available to military members who suffer from PTSD; however, getting the military members to obtain and attend necessary treatment can be an incredibly difficult task. Asking members who serve in the world’s premiere fighting force who are trained to kill the nation’s enemies on a moment’s notice are not exactly quick to obtain treatment and or counseling. Military members who self-report their symptoms are in fear of being viewed as “weak” or may lose their position to one which is less involved (in which we have discussed in Module 6). Often times, military units are often busy focusing on a myriad of other tasks, that the symptoms which affect military members truly becomes an issue within the unit when it is “too late.” As a result, taking a proactive approach and getting far ahead of the potential threat could have extremely positive results.
After watching the film Healing a Soldier’s Heart by Stephen Olsson in 2013 for our course “film review”, which involved Vietnam veterans who spent a majority of their adult lives suffering from intense symptoms of PTSD, the previously mentioned veterans utilized prolonged exposure therapy by returning to their old combat zone thirty-two years later. At the end of the film, one of the Soldiers, Terry Bell, who served as an Infantry Officer in the Vietnam War, was witnessed utilizing Yoga after his trip and stated, “I have significantly improved my relationship with my family, and a lot of my defenses just dropped away” (Olsson, 2013). After watching the film Healing a Soldier’s Heart and from firsthand experience, I believe that utilizing Yoga on military installations could be incredibly beneficial for the military members. Every morning (6:30 AM to be specific) physical training is mandatory for active-duty members. Therefore, making Yoga mandatory for active-duty members, and supervisors holding their subordinates accountable would serve as an effective way to maximize participation. Considering that Yoga, as Dr. Rousseau explains, is “used for pain management, as well as for people with a variety of psychological diagnoses, including PTSD” (Rousseau, 2021), implementing it on military installations could be a very achievable task.
Within the dissertation written by Dr. Robin Cushing titled Yoga for Veterans With Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, she stated that “15 to 20% of Veterans are returning from deployment with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder” (Cushing, 2017). Additionally, in Dr. Cushing’s dissertation, she explained that, when comprising a study of 18 veterans with PTSD who participated in a six-week intervention of 60-minute Yoga classes, that, “All of the participants demonstrated significant reductions in PTSD as a primary measure of anxiety, depression, insomnia; and demonstrated significant an overall reduction in PTSD symptoms” (Cushing, 2017). Needless to say, I believe that more research should be completed regarding how to implement Yoga within military installations which can reduce PTSD symptoms and potentially reduce suicide attempts for our combat veterans.
Olsson, Stephen. Healing a Soldier’s Heart. Cultural and Educational Media. 2013, the Video Project. Alexander Street. Retrieved from: https://video-alexanderstreet-com.ezproxy.bu.edu/watch/healing-a-soldier-s-heart/cite?context=channel:the-video-project
Van Der Kolk, B. (2014). The Body Keeps the Score: Brain, Mind, and Body in the Healing of Trauma. Penguin Books.
Rousseau, D. (2021). Module 4 Study Guide (Notes). Boston University Metropolitan College. Retrieved from: https://onlinecampus.bu.edu/bbcswebdav/pid-8917440-dt-content-rid-52443752_1/courses/21sum1metcj720so1/course/module4/allpages.htm
Cushing, R. (2017). Yoga for Veterans with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. University of Hawaii, Doctor of Public Health. Retrieved from: https://scholarspace.manoa.hawaii.edu/bitstream/10125/62760/2017-05-dph-cushing.pdf