I was honored to be part of the jam packed press conference last week at the Beverly Hills Hotel for the David Lynch Foundation’s “Operation Warrior Wellness” that gave a one million dollar check to teach transcendental meditation to veterans. The grant comes from Operation Warrior Wellness, a division of the Hollywood director’s Foundation, a national initiative established in 2005 to help thousands of veterans overcome post-traumatic stress disorder through Transcendental Meditation. Recipient organizations include the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, UCLA’s Operation Mend, the Wounded Warrior Project, the Jericho Project, and the National Women’s Veterans Association of America.
Some of the dynamic speakers included Paul Reickhoff, executive director of the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America, Jerry Yellin, co-chair of Operation Warrior Wellness, and Norman Rosenthal, M.D., Georgetown University Medical School psychiatrist, medical researcher on the effects of meditation on PTS, and author of the New York Times bestseller, Transcendence: Healing and Transformation through Transcendental Meditation. The Board of Advisors for this Resilient Warrior Program include filmmaker and actor Clint Eastwood, filmmakers George Lucas and Martin Scorsese, fashion designer Donna Karen, PTS researcher Sarina Grosswald, U.S. Marine Corps Major General James Williams, U.S. Army Reserve Medical Corps Col. Brian Rees, and host of The Dr. Oz Show, Mehmet Oz, M.D. David Lynch is known for his creative filmmaking with Blue Velvet, Wild at Heart, and the TV series Twin Peaks.
Shocking facts I learned at the press conference:
- 1% nation is bearing the responsibility of protecting the other 99% .
- 25-40% women also suffer from PTS. Many suffer silently.
- Military women have 3 times the divorce rate as military men and 4 times the amount are homeless.
- Not only veterans suffer from PTS, but so do at-risk students, Native Americans, the homeless, and children victimized by prostitution (even in LA).
- Many veterans suffer in silence.
- Not only are veterans effected by PTS, but their families are also severely effected.
What are the symptoms of post-traumatic stress (PTS)?
Due to both the devastating side effects of war both physically and psychologically, people with combat-related PTS suffer from emotional numbness and depression that coexist or alternate with intense anxiety and delusional thinking. Their days may consist of traumatic flashbacks and their nights may be disrupted by sleeplessness and nightmares, awaking drenched in sweat as though back on the battlefield.
What is Transcendental Meditation (TM) ? How do you learn it?
TM is a simple and powerful mental technique for those suffering that can be practiced twice a day for 20 minutes each. It is a personal private way for people to reduce stress and reclaim their lives through deep relaxation and restoration of balance. I heard someone say it was much deeper than deep sleep. It costs $1500 per person for TM, but they want to be able to offer it to veterans for free. It is a 4 day process and it is helpful to go back for refreshers, and the program is free for one’s lifetime. You can learn more about TM here.
What are the effects of TM?
Published research shows the effects of the TM technique reduces stress, anxiety, depression, substance abuse, insomnia, and cardiovascular disease, as well as improves memory, focus, and intelligence. A pilot study conducted in June 2011 published in Military found a 50% decrease in symptoms of PTS among meditating veterans, including reductions in hyper-vigilance and impulsive, violent behavior. This 50% reduction occurred two months later. One study of Vietnam veterans showed after 3 months of TM training that 7 out of 10 vets requested no more therapy while the control group showed little improvement. In the Congo where there are reeling symptoms of PTS, all 25 showed great improvement with treatment whereas the control group showed all 25 with no improvement whatsoever. These are all facts I learned at the press conference.
A video message was shared by Clint Eastwood about how TM is a great tool for stress
reduction and can benefit everybody. A woman veteran shared how she was suicidal when returning from war and how TM saved her life by calming her mind and helping her become a better thinker. The entire press conference and ten people on stage stopped for three minutes and meditated.
The David Lynch Foundation has made an outreach to the federal government. They need press and they need finances. $300 million dollars is needed. 1 million people need TM. 30 people in the military have been taught TM and they are hopeful that the program expands that way. Employees at certain companies can now donate part of their health insurance plans to veterans.
In the words of one speaker – “We can’t afford to wait for the study’s results. We must ACT NOW!”