While clinical health services exist for service members with existing mental health conditions like posttraumatic stress, they are not stemming the rising tide of service suicides. A new approach to mental health intervention and suicide prevention in military-connected personnel is required, one that speaks to the participatory, hard-working ethos of military culture. Social work and health promotion professionals working to prevent and treat mental health problems like depression and stress injuries must understand the confluence of warrior culture and mental health issues in the veteran community. While the research literature does not yet address this confluence issue directly, programs exist that provide guidance, and a mindfulness-based training protocol may provide the answer. The purpose of this review is to provide programming recommendations based on a review of successful exemplars in treatment settings, the limited evaluation of best practices currently available when working with this priority population in prevention settings, and a cultural analysis of the military veteran community.
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By: Kate Hendricks Thomas, PhD, E-RYT200 and Sarah Plummer Taylor, MSW, RYT500
Keywords: Veterans; Depression; Mental health; Resilience; Mindfulness; warrior culture
* Feature image was taken by photographer, by James Richard Kao, while on assignment for a Semper Sarah® Mindfulness Retreat in Costa Rica. A Marine Corps Veteran, Tyler, is featured in the foreground and a Navy Veteran, Caitlin, is featured in the background.