VA to commit $5 million to trials studying the effect of meditation on PTSD

An increasing level of attention has been paid recently to the positive effect transcendental meditation may be having on military veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder. While many of the proponents of meditation as a PTSD treatment come from outside the military world, those inside it are starting to pay attention as well. So positive have the early results been that the Department of Veterans Affairs is committing about $5 million on a dozen trials involving several hundred veterans from Iraq, Afghanistan and other conflicts.

The announcement comes at a time when the VA’s $5.9 billion system for mental health care has come under sharp and unrelenting criticism. An inspector general’s report released in April of 2013 was scathing in its review of practices at the VA, stating that the department has greatly overstated how quickly it treats veterans seeking mental healthcare. In the face of such criticism, it appears the VA has begun to seek alternatives to conventional treatment for ongoing, growing issues such as the number of veterans suffering from symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder.

It is still early in the game as it pertains to the effects of meditation on veterans suffering from PTSD symptoms. Given that one of the primary benefits of meditation for all who practice it is its ability to relieve tension and stress, however, it seems a logical candidate to be recruited in the efforts to curb PTSD. Early studies have elicited exciting results; seeming to show a correlation between the practice of meditation and the reduction of trauma, anxiety and stress in veterans.

Given the VA’s less than stellar record of meting out its mental healthcare services in a timely fashion, the ability to practice meditation anywhere, anytime and for no cost is an appealing aspect of the practice. Meditation is a practice that takes discipline to get better at, but those who practice it on a regular basis vouch for its ability to relieve stress and anxiety and bring tranquility to their lives.

Where the VA’s study of meditation as a treatment for PTSD will lead is anybody’s guess. In the meantime, there is nothing stopping veterans dealing with symptoms of post traumatic stress disorder from picking up the practice on their own. In fact, it appears more and veterans are doing just that.