For more than 15 years, our mission at the Center for Resilience of the David Lynch Foundation, a 501(c)(3) organization, has been to help eradicate Posttraumatic Stress (PTS) among veterans by offering the TM-based Resilient Warrior Program, a simple, easy-to-learn, evidence-based approach to relieving symptoms of PTS and major depression and developing greater resilience to stress.
TM an Introduction
TM is an easy-to-learn, enjoyable-to-practice mental technique for deep relaxation and stress-reduction that has been successfully offered in medical schools, academic and VA medical centers, hospitals, military academies, substance abuse centers, prisons, and other settings. The TM technique is practiced for 15-20 minutes twice a day. To date, more than ten million people of all ages, nationalities, and religions have learned the technique.
TM practice produces a unique neurophysiological state that combines deep metabolic rest with heightened mental alertness. This state of deep relaxation, which researchers have termed “restful alertness,” is a potent antidote to stress. Hundreds of peer-reviewed published studies on TM have documented improvements in a wide variety of stress related disorders, as well as significant improvements in cognitive function and overall health and well-being. The National Institutes of Health and the Department of Defense have awarded nearly $30 million in grant support for research on TM
An estimated one million veterans suffer from the nightmare of PTS, and that includes more than 270,000 Vietnam war veterans. Worse, less than 20% of these veterans will receive adequate care due to lack of effective treatments, fear of stigma or insufficient government resources. Half of those won’t receive any care at all. Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT), two of the Veterans Administration (VA) first line interventions for PTS, are not effective for between one-half and two-thirds of patients. Left untreated, PTS cripples the ability to function and places veterans at great risk for violent and self-destructive behavior, including:
The Center for Resilience has instructed thousands of veterans, active-duty personnel and military families in TM. One of our most successful partnerships has been with the Bronx VA Resilience and Wellness Center (RWC). The RWC is an innovative program focused on suicide prevention. The RWC targets vulnerable veterans by augmenting traditional treatments with complementary and integrative health interventions. DLF and TM have been part of the RWC since its inception in October 2018 and over 100 high-risk veterans have learned TM. Multi-year program partnerships also include VA hospitals nationwide; National Defense University in Washington, DC; Boulder Crest Retreat Centers; UCLA Veterans Family Wellness Center; EOD Warrior Foundation; residential substance abuse treatments centers in New York City; City University of New York Office of Veterans; numerous military bases, including Ft. Bragg, Ft. Gordon, Ft. Belvoir, and Ft. Hamilton; and the New York City Veterans Mental Health Coalition.
Tragically in the time it takes to read this, another veteran will fall from the ranks. This national tragedy is compounded by the fact that such acts cause lifelong harm to family members and co-workers—and directly challenge the military’s ethos: “No one left behind.” Clearly these patriots who choose to release their pain through suicide rather than confront it have been “left behind.” And despite the best efforts of the Veterans Administration, including untold billions of dollars allocated to the treatment of PTS and the reduction of suicide ideation, the number of veterans taking their own lives continues to grow.
For more than 15 years, Center for Resilience has successfully delivered an evidence-based, trauma-healing meditation technique to more than one million underserved children, veterans with PTS, and women survivors of violence and assault. Extensive research, including randomized controlled trials, has documented the benefits of the Transcendental Meditation technique for reducing symptoms of PTS and suicidal ideation, as well as decreasing stress, anxiety, depression, substance use disorder, and heart disease; improving brain and cognitive functioning; and raising performance.
The Center for Resilience will focus its considerable expertise, energy, and resources on addressing the terrible problem of high suicide rates among veterans through 21 TO NONE.® The goal of this national initiative will be to provide every veteran and family member with the opportunity to learn the trauma-healing Transcendental Meditation technique, at no cost, to heal trauma, prevent suicides and raise performance.
Veteran suicides must be stopped. Lives must be saved. Families must be made whole. Here is a practical, scalable, evidence-based medical intervention that should be made available immediately to every veteran and family member.
The time to act is now.
Please support 21 to NONE.
GENERAL JAMES “SPIDER” MARKS (US ARMY, RETIRED)
Co-chair, 21 TO NONE
Teach Veterans Now. Implement the Veterans Lifeline to provide TM instruction to thousands of veterans and their families until government funding is secured to bring the technique to the more than one million veterans in the U.S. who suffer from PTS and suicidal ideation.
Implement the Phase III Randomized Controlled Clinical Trial on the Impact of TM on PTS and suicidal ideation among veterans in 9 sites throught the U.S. in 2022. The majority of the funding has been secured for this three-year, multi-site, $9 million trial. The study has been designed to provide the requisite data on the benefits of TM for veterans to help secure longer-term government funding to incorporate TM in the veterans’ health care system.
In 2022, the David Lynch Foundation’s Center for Resilience in close partnership will launch the largest study ever to be conducted on the impact of meditation on veterans with PTSD. Support for the project came from the VA Deputy Undersecretary for Health, Carolyn Clancy, Executive Director of the National Center for PTSD, Paula Schnurr, and National Director of the Integrative Health Coordinating Center, Benjamin Kligler. The study is a multi-site randomized controlled trial that will evaluate whether the Transcendental Meditation ® (TM) technique is effective as a first line treatment for PTSD. Secondary outcomes will include depression, suicidal ideation, alcohol craving/usage, sleep quality and quality of life. The 6-site study will take place at research universities around the U.S. with approximately 300 subjects. The study sites include; Columbia University, Northwell Health, Stanford University, UCSD, Mt. Sinai and USC. The goal of the study is to secure long-term government funding for TM.
The primary outcome measure in this clinical trial will be the Clinician-Administered PTSD Scale (CAPS) for DSM-5. Secondary outcome measures will include the Columbia–Suicide Severity Rating Scale, Posttraumatic Stress Disorder Checklist (PCL)-5, Patient Health Questionnaire (PHQ)-9 for depression, Insomnia Sleep Index, Timeline Follow-Back (TLFB) interview of alcohol consumption and other non-prescribed substance usage, and the Quality of Life Enjoyment and Satisfaction Questionnaire (QLES-Q). A cost-effectiveness analysis will be conducted to determine the cost-saving value of the TM program in the treatment of PTSD.
The impact of this proposed study will be substantial. The research will be used to secure government approval for the implementation of TM as a treatment option in VA healthcare and other military settings. The availability of an alternative and evidence-based PTS therapy will benefit patients by offering a greater range of treatment options and by serving as a secondary modality for those not responding to prior therapy.
In particular, because TM is a non-trauma focused treatment, it is often preferred to other existing treatments for PTS therapies that involve confronting anxiety-provoking thoughts and stimuli. TM is relatively low cost and provides a life-long tool for promoting mental and physical health. Other benefits of TM include being less emotionally demanding for patients than other PTS therapies, producing noticeable benefits within the first month of practice, and being a treatment that is more self-empowering to veterans through regular daily home practice.
“Prolonged Exposure (PE) and Cognitive Processing Therapy (CPT) are not effective for between one-half and two-thirds of patients. It raises important practical questions, particularly the value of emotionally demanding therapies, such as PE and CPT, relative to comparably efficacious and more tolerable interventions, such as PCT, transcendental meditation, and sertraline.”
—Journal of the American Medical Association, February 2020
The most recent third-party validation of this research came in January 2020 when the Journal of the American Medical Association published an article on the current state of VA treatments noting that TM is as effective as the VA’s first line recommended treatments for PTS. This was based, in part, on the findings of a $2.4 million DoD-funded randomized control trial at the San Diego VA which the New England Journal of Medicine’s “Journal Watch” listed as one of 2019’s top 10 psychiatry publications. This study of 203 veterans with PTS compared TM with Prolonged Exposure (PE), one of the VAs first line treatments for PTS, and a PTS education active control. The study was published in The Lancet Psychiatry in November 2018 and found TM to be at least as effective as PE and significantly more effective than a PTS education control group.
Nidich S, et al. Non-trauma-focused meditation versus exposure therapy in veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder: a randomized controlled trial. The Lancet Psychiatry 2018 5:975-986.
This session provides an introduction to the evidence-based TM technique and an overview of the structure and content of the First Responders Program.
Session 1 (Group, on-site or remote; 60 minutes)
The participant is instructed by a certified TM instructor in how to meditate correctly for maximum benefit in daily life. TM instructions will be carried out in partnership with affiliated institutions.
Four instructional sessions held over four consecutive days (On-site; 60 minutes each)
Session 1: Personal instruction in the TM technique (Individual, on-site)
Session 2: Ensuring you are meditating correctly and gaining the benefits (Group, on-site)
Session 3: Understanding the mechanics of how TM restores balance and reduces stress in the nervous system (Group, on-site)
Session 4: Exploring the long-term benefits of regular TM practice for optimizing mental and physical health (Group, on-site)
These seminars help stabilize correct practice of the TM technique and deepen participants’ intellectual understanding of its mechanics and effects.
Four seminars held once a month (Group, on-site or remote; 45 minutes each)
Each seminar includes:
Deeper knowledge on a range of topics, including:
Following the three phases of the First Responders Program, a lifetime of individual and group refresher courses is available for free, remotely or in-person, through more than 200 TM Teaching Centers within the United States.