Women are increasingly playing key roles in the military. According to a recent Congressional Research Service report on: Women in Combat, over the past decade more women have become involved in combat operations. Since September 2001, almost 300,000 female service members have been deployed for contingency operations in Iraq and Afghanistan. In approximately 12 years of combat operations in Iraq and Afghanistan, more than 1000 women have been seriously wounded or died.
In the video below, a U.S. Army platoon sergeant, who served as a chemical operations specialist in Iraq, discusses her personal experience dealing with the trauma of war.
In Leshonda’s words:
“I thought that PTSD, post-traumatic stress disorder, was something that people used to get out of going to Iraq. That’s what I thought. Oh, I was wrong—dead, almost dead wrong.
“I was a platoon sergeant over in Iraq, a chemical operations specialist, and I knew if I didn’t do my job correctly, a lot of people would end up getting sick or a lot of people would die, and I didn’t want to let that happen on my watch.
“The mission that came up where I had gotten hurt… I knew something was wrong, because when we left this particular part of town, there were people there. When we came back there wasn’t a soul to be found. And I knew then, something was about to happen.
“As soon as that truck in front of mine blew up all hell broke loose. Then here come the bullets, just all over the place. I sustained multiple injuries to my face, torso, stomach, and legs. Out of eight people, I was the only one that made it home. That was hard for me to deal with because I was solely responsible for those boys.
“It wasn’t until I came home that I knew something was off and something was wrong, but I didn’t know what. Little did I know at the time, I had made a terrible mistake by not healing my mind. Slowly, but surely, I systematically lost everything I had, in less than two years.
“On November 18, 2011, I stood in a window ledge and shut my eyes and said a prayer, and was about to jump. I know what got me in that window ledge, but I also know what got me out of that window ledge and why I am here now.
“I believe in my heart that Transcendental Meditation is a humongous portion of the reason why I’m still sitting here now.
“To know that something as small of a concept as twenty minutes, twice a day, can make me feel like I feel now, that’s a gift that you can’t buy. It’s an opportunity that I think everybody should be afforded.
“My heart is with my soldiers, my friends, my comrades-in-arms. I know what TM can benefit, and how it can benefit others, especially my wounded warrior community. Just because you can’t see a wound, doesn’t mean it’s not there. In actuality, it’s those wounds that are the hardest to heal.
“I don’t think I’ve ever felt this good in life. It’s given me me back.”
In the video below Dr. Sarina Grosswald discusses the impact of trauma on women, as well as research showing the effects of the Transcendental Meditation technique on those suffering from PTSD.
Other web references:
Women veterans combat PTSD with Transcendental Meditation
Women and stress: Why we meditate
Stephanie Finamore is a meditator who lives in Middletown, Maryland, and is a volunteer at the Washington DC/Bethesda TM Center.