Why This Congressman is Fighting to Bring Mindfulness to Veterans

"This is mindfulness' most urgent initiative," says Congressman Tim Ryan (D-Ohio), author of A Mindful Nation. 

Tim Ryan: A Mindful Coalition from Mindful Direct.

According to a recent Institute of Medicine report, mental health issues among the veteran population are rising. The number of active-duty service members diagnosed with a psychological condition has increased by over 60 percent between 2001 and 2011. An estimated 22 veterans commit suicide each day.

An increasing number of veterans are turning to mindfulness to cope with combat-related PTSD. And if Rep. Tim Ryan (D-Ohio) has anything to say about it, mindfulness will be offered as a treatment option to every U.S. veteran.

“There’s a chance that a lot of these men and woman will kill themselves, and, to me, that’s unacceptable,” says Ryan. Ryan helped introduce a bill that would support bringing integrative health to Veterans Affairs and mindfulness techniques into the military as part of basic training, making members of the military “more proficient in how to deal with trauma”—a concept investigated recently by research on Marines and mindfulness.

Getting members of congress interested and aware of mindfulness practices is part of the effort, but Ryan’s larger goal is to connect the dots between all the different organizations and individuals promoting and practicing mindfulness, so that “all these different elements can see themselves as a broader coalition of like-minded people.”