U.S. Soldiers – Mindfulness and Mental Health
U.S. soldiers, especially those who serve in active duty, endure situations that provide stress and trauma that many of us as civilians will never experience.
There is currently a study aimed at measuring the effectiveness of engaging soldiers (U.S. Marines are being used as the test group) in a form of mindfulness meditation for stressful situations. A Buddhist-inspired concept of meditation, the mindfulness exercises are geared at preparing the soldiers to actively maintain attention to keep their minds in the moment so that they will operate more effectively and safely in combat situations. “The idea is to give Marines a tool so they can regulate their own stress levels before they lead to problem behavior” 1
The end of 2012 brought us a new year and at the same time ended the year that resulted in a record number of suicides among U.S. troops. The number of soldiers who took their own lives this past year actually exceeded the amount of soldiers killed in combat. As we continue forward with boots on the ground abroad, we as a country cannot deny the tremendous need for continued mental health programs and support to be made more available to soldiers while in active duty, as well as to their counterparts who have served and returned home to help combat symptoms of PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder).
If the study currently underway yields positive results, the U.S. Marine Corps plans on developing a curriculum to integrate mindfulness teaching within their training. Results are expected to be announced this fall.
written by Andrew Lester
- Watson, J. Meditating Marines: Military tries mindfulness to lower stress. The Associated Press, January 20, 2013. http://vitals.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/20/16612244-meditating-marines-military-tries-mindfulness-to-lower-stress?lite
- No author cited U.S. Marines studying mindfulness-based training. The Associated Press, January 19,2013. http://www.usatoday.com/story/news/nation/2013/01/19/us-marines-studying-mindfulness-based-training/1847519/
- Briggs, B. Military suicide rate hit record high in 2012. NBC News, January 14, 2013. http://usnews.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/01/14/16510852-military-suicide-rate-hit-record-high-in-2012?lite