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Mar 15
Mandala Projects, Mountain States
Ratna Prison Initiative Develops Program for Veterans with PTSD

Photo from www.time.com/time/photoessays/iraq2003

The Ratna Prison Initiative (RPI) is currently developing a secular meditation program for combat veterans, a significant percentage of whom are incarcerated.  It is our intention to work with incarcerated vets and to use that as a bridge to the veteran population in general.

We have just received a federal sub-award from Colorado Compassion Initiative for US$9,000 to work on pilot programs. (This is our second sub-award; we are currently pursuing larger Federal grants.) We have four Ph.D. professionals in the field who are advising us, some of whom are vets themselves, some of whom are meditators, and one of whom is both a veteran and a meditator.

The following is an excerpt from a letter that RPI received from the inmate facilitator of an incarcerated veteran’s group, which is a Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder support group.

J.T. had requested meditation materials for his group as a psychological tool for work with trauma.  Numerous walking and sitting meditation instructions were provided, as well as DVDs and CDs, including “Practicing Peace in Times of War,” a recording of a program with Pema Chodron and Richard Reoch held at Shambhala Mountain Center in August of 2007.

We are seeing so many Gulf War, Iraq and Afghanistan veterans ending up here that at times it is heartbreaking. …I just received the package you sent.

…I am speechless.  …I was touched, literally, and found myself in tears of joy and awe….I never imagined that anyone could ever relate to combat-related PTSD, especially here in prison.  Somehow you heard my and others’ tears of despair and now I have in my hands a path towards healing for so many men I love so very much (Marine Corps – OO RAH!!). To see the damage that service to our country has done to us, and realizing we would rather cover it up and cook in our own despair and cynicism instead of dealing with our emotions, at times has hurt so bad.  The thing with our wounds (and we all have wounds) is they are so deep that the darkness it takes you to when you even try to remember or process the events can and does destroy your humanity. J.T.

Readers are also invited to read a related article on Ratna Prison Initiative by clicking here, and to read about Sargeant Paul Kendel’s experience in Iraq by clicking here.

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