According to the Veterans Administration, 7 out of 10 vets live with PTSD. As we have continued to learn more about the effects of trauma, there has been an increased focus on the needs of veterans in recent years.
One of the prime areas of focus for our organization, Mission 22, is providing veterans with a pathway to healing when they need it — right now. The outreach, events, and programming we offer speak to known components of healing that have been studied and shown to work well for veterans dealing with anxiety, trauma, depression, and reacclimating to civilian life following service.
The components of Mission 22’s focus have various roles in the healing process. Here is some background on what some of the components can offer our veterans:
Benefits of community gym participation
When in the military, there is a community aspect to almost everything soldiers do — from missions, to marching, to working out. Through community gym participation and physical activity, veterans can regain some of their physical and mental strength that may have been dissipated by PTSD, anxiety, or even just being away from a regimented wellness and physical activity program.
Lifestyle changes and developing healthy habits that one may have had while on active duty are proven ways to combat post-traumatic stress symptoms and anxiety. Weightlifting and healthy eating can increase testosterone levels, which can also quell symptoms of anxiety and depression. The operative word, however, is “community.” By giving veterans and their families access to community gym resources, veterans can better avoid feelings of isolation and loneliness, which can contribute to depression and even suicidal ideation.
Veterans are used to being around others who share their goals and culture. With community gym participation, veterans can regain that sense of belonging and community that buoyed them during their time in the military.
Good nutrition goes hand-in-hand with physical activity when seeking overall wellness. The way we recover from trauma involves a number of factors, including how we sleep, move, form relationships with others, what medications we take, and especially how we eat.
Within each of us, a biological army is at war with forces that want to take us down: illness, bad bacteria, and allergens among them. The success of our dietary choices can lead to the success of our immune system — and our physical and mental wellness as a whole. When our bodies feel bad, our minds are inclined to follow.
We work by guiding veterans and their families through healthy eating habits, intentional food prep, and options that will feed not only their bodies, but also their minds and spirit.
A growth mindset
Through Mission 22’s Recovery and Resiliency program, modern science is combined with timeless principles of human healing to help veterans and their families reframe the physical and psychological environment. Often, when veterans are discharged, they may feel “stuck,” unaware of what to do next or how to reintegrate into civilian life. By instilling in veterans a growth mindset, they can encourage them to plan for the future, take care of their minds and bodies daily, and build lives outside of military service with their families.
Our initial in-house research has shown that the veterans we have worked with have experienced a notable reduction in their post-traumatic stress symptoms through the Recovery and Resiliency program. These numbers are encouraging, and we have high hopes that the growth mindset-focused programming will help more veterans go from symptomatic to sub-clinical.
Often, symptoms of PTSD and anxiety can rear their ugly heads when one has a fixed mindset. Perhaps they are stuck on a ruminating loop regarding their time on active duty, or are fixated on their options following their service. Whatever the fixed mindset may be, Mission 22 has programs to help veterans break out of that loop and find a pathway to growth.
The continued personal growth journey
Often, all veterans need is a helping hand from someone who understands them. Headlines and calls for action from legislators and advocates can be reminders that our country doesn’t always meet the needs of veterans from a psychological or wellness standpoint.
Once veterans return from service or are discharged, their personal journey doesn’t end — it just shifts. Veterans often need assistance to find the right path to a positive personal growth journey.
There are a number of components that help veterans heal from traumatic experiences. Mission 22 has pulled these components into focus and developed programming to guide veterans and their families down the path of acclimating to their new lives as civilians.
Veterans can live better, even with traumatic pasts and symptoms of anxiety and PTS emerging in their post-military lives. By focusing on the healing components proven to make a difference, we are allowing veterans and their families to live better, growth-minded lives.
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