Note from Diane: We are excited to have Dr Judy Rifle, of Santa Cruz Grants & Consulting joining us as a blogger for the Grant Writer’s Blog in 2016! She kicked off her series of posts by providing us her own “Seeing Grant Funding in Action” story. Did you miss the other posts our team has written about how we have seen grant funding in action resulting from our work? Check them out here.
Did you know only 7.3% of the population in the United States have ever served in the military? Most people are familiar with large charitable organizations such as the Wounded Warrior Project, and some think the VA provides all that’s needed by returning soldiers. But there are several other noteworthy, stalwart organizations that operate on a much smaller, yet highly effective, scale.
As a grant consultant and wife of an Air Force veteran, I am honored to work with a small nonprofit in Tucson supporting the local military population. The Purple Mountain Institute runs the Mindful Veterans Project, providing free Mindfulness Based Stress Reduction (MBSR) classes to veterans, active duty, reservists, and military family members. Mindfulness, meditation and yoga are proven methods for helping this population deal more effectively with Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD), Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI), chronic pain, moral injury, and other battle related outcomes. MBSR combines these 3 methods in an 8-week class requiring deep reflection, daily homework/practice, and an 8 hour day of silence. The course is not easy and sometimes painful, but it is worth it. My husband and I did not finish the course until the second time we tried; this is normal for many.
As a graduate of this MBSR class, I have seen firsthand the positive effects on people’s lives. My husband, who was awarded the Bronze Star for his heroism, returned from Iraq a different person dealing with unimaginable, painful memories, nightmares, flashbacks, and other PTSD symptoms. We are some of the lucky ones who sought and found help instead of turning to alcohol, drugs, or suicide. However, it requires research, determination, and experimentation to find the best method for each individual dealing with war related symptoms. Although I read research concerning PTSD and a book about what families faced after a loved one returned from Vietnam, I was still unprepared for the daily effects of his service on both of us. That first year was incredibly rough, and I am now quite familiar with the dark veil that covers my husband’s face on certain dates such as when his best friend died in front of him from a rocket attack or when a suicide vest incident occurred. I wish we had known about the Mindful Veterans Project when he first came home, although the wounds were much rawer at that time.
Seeing veterans who at first sit in a corner unable to comfortably interact with others in MBSR class moving closer to others as the 8 weeks progress is a joy. Veterans who have committed crimes and then are ordered by a judge to attend MBSR find ways besides violence to deal with their pain and disenchantment with returning to “normal” society. The following quotes from MBSR graduates also demonstrate the effectiveness of the program.
“MBSR allows me to identify stressful situations before they fully develop, helping me to respond rather than react.”
“At the beginning of the MBSR class, I was crawling towards mindfulness; now I am running a marathon with it.”
“While the MBSR class was not a cure for my PTSD ailments, it does give me freedom to face life after combat.”
I am thankful that individual donations, corporate giving, and foundation grants continue to assist PMI to provide much needed services and support. In 2015, we were able to purchase a computer and printer to replace the 10-year-old technology the Executive Director had been using along with turning paper surveys from class participants into an online survey database. This allows us to reach more clients in need of help and provides invaluable data on outcomes.
Want to learn more? Visit https://purplemountaininstitute.org/.