On a day when the New York Times headline story is “Suicides Outpacing War Deaths for Troops,” I wanted to call your attention to some good work going on with returning combat veterans.
To be clear — I want to see the day when military action becomes entirely replaced by skillful and persistent diplomatic efforts, and when the U.S. as a whole (government and citizens) is able to look deeply at the root causes and conditions of war and understand our place in that karma. Until that day comes, we have vets coming home who are wounded physically and emotionally.
Here are a few contemplative and mindfulness-based initiatives that I’m aware of that are serving this community (one of which is time-sensitive, with a retreat coming up this July). If you know of more, please share them in the comments below.
- July 6 – 11: Writing & Meditation Retreat for Veterans and Their Families. Led by Maxine Hong Kingston with Therese Fitzgerald. Takes place at Ala Kukui, a spiritual center in Hana, Maui (Hawaii). For more info, see http://www.alakukui.org/veterans-retreat-July2012.html
- “The Coming Home Project” is a non-profit organization founded by Dr. Joseph Bobrow, Roshi, a Zen teacher. The project, begun in 2006, is devoted to providing expert, compassionate care, support, education, and stress management tools for Iraq and Afghanistan veterans, service members, their families, and their service providers. Visit their website to find out more about their services.
- The Buddhist Military Sangha is a nonpolitical and nonsectarian forum for Buddhists serving in the US Armed Forces. This website includes quite an extensive collection of links on pastoral care, mental health, and re-entry/readjustment websites.
- Honoring the Path of the Warrior is a program sponsored by the San Francisco Zen Center, that has been assisting post-9/11 and Persian Gulf veterans in making a positive transition from military to civilian life since 2007.
- Finally, here’s a moving account from the Shambhala Sun website on how meditation has helped one vet to work with his mental health challenges.