According to the National Center for PTSD trauma exposure is quite common for many women, and that women are more likely to develop chronic PTSD than men. While women are less likely to be exposed to circumstances of combat, women are more likely to experience military sexual trauma (i.e., sexual harassment and sexual assault) compared with men. Women’s experiences of stress and trauma have been linked to a variety of negative mental health outcomes, including depression, substance abuse, and most commonly, post-traumatic stress disorder.
At a recent conference sponsored by the David Lynch Foundation’s Operation Warrior Wellness, U.S. Navy veteran, Tara Jones Wise talked about her personal experience with the Transcendental Meditation program.
Tara Jones Wise:
“There are 1.8 million women who have served in the U.S. military—my sisters. Women are chemically made-up differently than men. During boot-camp women give up a part of their femininity for overall acceptance into what has been historically considered a male-dominated culture. Women are nurturing, motherly and emotionally connected to nature. We sacrifice a part of our femininity to conform to being a soldier. After service, part of our transition is finding our path back to womanhood.
“(I came out of the military) with a variety of health challenges, like undiagnosed military sexual trauma, anxiety, and body aches as a result of performing like a machine. I was struggling to provide housing and stability for my family.
“Today is so very important for me because I am still here. A year ago this month I was suicidal. I felt so low that I wanted to just not be here.
“Transcendental Meditation saved my life. It calmed my mind, helped to restore my nurturing nature, restored my femininity, and has helped me to become a better thinker. It’s made me feel good inside mentally and physically.
“Now I can picture my future of being a grandmother, a successful businesswoman and a strong advocator for my fellow sisters. Today I feel like I finally matter for the first time in a long time thanks to my TM trainers.”
According to PTSD researcher and a member of the board of advisors of the David Lynch Foundation, Dr. Sarina Grosswald:
“Transcendental Meditation is a way for these women to reclaim their lives. It’s personal, it’s private, and it’s a resource to help them reduce the stress of the trauma that they have experienced in their military service. It can help them restore their nurturing, feminine qualities that they have had to often sublimate for so long, and help them to transition as they return back to their family and friends.”
Tara Jones Wise is currently the executive director of the newly formed, National Military Women’s Veterans Association of America, an organization that provides innovative employment services, one to one counseling, and advocacy for increased benefits for women veterans. She is an MBA graduate under the vocational rehabilitation program.
Sarina Grosswald, EdD, is an expert in cognitive learning; president of SJ Grosswald & Associates, a consulting firm in medical education in Alexandria, Virginia. Her recent research on the effect of TM on post-traumatic stress appeared in Military Medicine in June 2011. (“Effects of Transcendental Meditation in veterans of Operation Enduring Freedom (OEF) and Operation Iraqi Freedom (OIF) with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD): a pilot study” Military Medicine 2011; 176: 626-630.)