shutterstock_42202189The men and women who serve in today’s military branches and first responders represent some of the most disciplined, well-trained, and highly motivated people of our society. Yet the combined effects of multiple deployments, combat exposure, and transition from military to civilian life create staggering challenges for these service members, their families, and their communities. Often, the agencies and medical systems in place to help veterans with these challenges either are not the solution of choice for the veterans themselves or present barriers that complicate a service member’s access. The result is that men and women who are extraordinarily capable of leadership and service when in the ranks, find themselves at home struggling to adjust, cope, and meaningfully contribute to their families and communities.

DSC_2354The Wichita in Mind veterans project is our effort to respond to this need, launched in October 2014 through funding from the Mindful Nation Foundation and training scholarships from the Center for Mind-Body Medicine.  Called the HomeFront Initiative, our Wichita project will assist those who have experienced chronic or extreme stress or trauma by teaching specific mind-body skills for self-directed stress management and improved quality of life, with veterans as first priority. Believing that trust is critical, HomeFront Initiative will create a veteran-led, community-based resource in which veterans and family members learn scientifically validated mind-body skills for selfcare in a safe, non-medical, small group setting. These groups will be cost-free to participants and will extend also to other community members as well who have experienced personal trauma or extreme life disruption, including our emergency and community service providers.

Here’s a snapshot of HomeFront Initiative’s Mind-Body SelfCare Skills Group model:

  • Free 8-week mind-body education and self-care training groups (16 hrs) of 8-10 persons per group, hosted by community agencies/organizations.
  • Groups offered both for veterans only, for veteran family and community members, and for other community service provider groups.
  • Participants practice scientifically validated mind-body selfcare skills for addressing the effects of stress and strengthening self-directed life improvement. These include education on the body’s stress and relaxation systems, plus training in biofeedback, breath work, meditation, autogenics (self-hypnosis), guided imagery, nutrition, and body movement.
  • Each group is led by a veteran trained in Mind-Body Skills Group facilitation by the Center for Mind-Body Medicine, Washington, D.C.

shutterstock_282745607Every American service member receives elite training to become a vital member of our military. Qualities and characteristics such as professionalism, respect, duty, loyalty, integrity, selfless service and courage are instilled throughout training and active duty. Through our program we seek to nurture those very qualities in our veterans for the benefit of all as part of our strengths-based, community participation model. The program consists of four components:

  • Free, community selfcare/resiliency training–a small group program to train veterans and other community members in researched mind-body selfcare techniques (beginning Summer 2015)
  • Veteran facilitator/leader training–a train-the-trainer program that equips veterans to serve as qualified facilitators of mind-body selfcare skills small groups (launched October 2014)
  • Facilitator mentorship program–ongoing professional guidance and support to help solidify facilitator training and provide ongoing support for the Selfcare Skills group leaders (beginning Summer 2015)
  • Community investment, coordination, and networking–community funding plus a sustainable volunteer administrative model with minimal paid personnel (launched Summer 2015)

We believe that we have the opportunity to offer a new resource for veteran re-integration, coping, and return to leadership – one that is veteran-led, built on trust and service, with self-directed learning and change at its heart.  It’s a resource in which veterans, and anyone affected by chronic or extreme stress or trauma, can hone their own capacity for resilience and well-being even in the face of continuing challenge.  For our veterans, it also offers a community-centered leadership role that harnesses the best of a service member’s personal training for use in meeting crucial community needs.

While we are doing so much with so little, it does take the support of key partners and visionary donors in the Wichita community to help scale this movement and truly realize Wichita in Mind. Please commit to supporting our programs today with your financial contribution and your energy–and be the spark that transforms our nation.

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