Resources for Veterans and Civilians

to strengthen meditation and mindfulness practice, and to find support regarding issues affecting the lives of veterans.

An inspiration from Pema Chodron:

“Meditation takes us just as we are, with our confusion and our sanity. There are 4 qualities we cultivate when we meditate:
  • Steadfastness- we strengthen our ability to be steadfast with ourselves, in body as well as mind.
  • Clear Seeing- we have less self-deception. We begin to be very honest with ourselves.
  • Experiencing our Emotional Distress - we practice dropping whatever story we are telling ourselves and lean into the emotions and  fear. We stay with the emotion, experience it, and leave it as it is, without proliferating. We learn to abide with our emotional distress.
  • Attention to the Present Moment - we make the choice, moment by moment, to be fully here...it is a way to be tender with ourselves,  toward other, and toward the world. This quality of attention is inherent in our ability to love.”

MILITARY CULTURAL COMPETENCE FOR CIVILIANS

As civilians, the responsibility to educate ourselves about military culture and experience lies on us. There are many books, articles and videos that can help to develop more cultural competence and understanding. If we want to speak with a veteran, it is important to follow their lead and ask them what they would like us to know, what they think is important for us to know and what they are comfortable sharing. Too often, people go up to veterans asking questions like: “Did you kill anyone?” “What is the worst thing you saw or experienced over there?” This is a commonplace intrusion into the lives of veterans, that neither builds cultural competence nor human respect. Developing cultural competence is an intimate and human journey, based on connection, trust and respect, even when our experiences and perspectives may be very different from each other. Most important is bringing a receptive, curious and open mind.

The willingness to listen and learn from veterans cultivates mutuality and an earned respect. Meeting veterans with a sense of humility and ‘not knowing’ encourages them to freely share their wisdom and experiences. If the space is opened and is trustworthy, veterans can teach us about the realities of war so that we can all understand more clearly and deeply the consequences of what we are asking of our young people when we send them to war.

There are many excellent resources below that can help to build this cultural competence, which can lead to more understanding and the ability to meet and be met.