More Veterans Finding Treatment Solution for PTSD, Suicide Ideation, May be ‘Sitting’ Right in Front of Them

Meditation Heals Military Vets With PTSD

by Lara Salahi
ABC News, June 6, 2011

For months, David George, 27, of Fairfield, Iowa, had been eyeing a pistol he saw at a local store.

In 2004, shortly after returning from Iraq, the former specialist in the 101st Airborne Division moved into his parents’ home in Maryland. At every noise, George, who owned a rifle, systematically moved from one room to the next to make sure the house was clear. The pistol, he thought, would make it easier.

Service members and veterans suffering from PTSD and suicide ideation are increasingly finding meditation an effective treatment option that doesn’t involve heavy psychiatric medication or counseling sessions with doctors who can’t relate to military culture. “When you see this dramatic impact, you have to be asking this question, why aren’t we doing more of this,” said Dr. Norman Rosenthal, clinical professor of psychiatry at Georgetown University Medical School.

“But I didn’t buy it, because I knew if I brought it home I’d shoot myself,” he said.

George struggled with post-traumatic stress disorder, a form of anxiety that develops after enduring a traumatic experience. For five years, George underwent stints of medication and talk therapy, both intended to quell his PTSD symptoms. But neither method worked for him, he said.

“It [the medications] helped make me not who I am. It took away my creativity, my personality, my ability to care about anything,” said George. “The one-on-ones were like, why am I talking to someone who has no idea what I’ve been through.”

It was the first time I felt quiet in my mind for five years — Iraq veteran David George

Until one day in 2009, while participating in a research session on transcendental meditation, George sat still for 20 minutes and focused on repeating a mantra.

“From the first time I did it, I knew it was what I would do for the rest of my life,” said George. “It was the first time I felt quiet in my mind for five years.”

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Watch video discussion about the effectiveness of meditation in treating PTSD in the military and veterans community:


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