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Faith-based healing over psychedelic Band-Aids for struggling veterans

OpinionFaith-based healing over psychedelic Band-Aids for struggling veterans

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Ours is a land of the free because of our brave military men and women who sacrifice much of themselves to defend our nation and the American way of life. 

Sometimes, the sacrifice means physical wounds that are easily seen and meaningfully treated to heal the body. But often, the sacrifice is an invisible wound that festers in hearts, minds and souls of our selfless veterans – PTSD, anxiety and depression.

For years, I served as a Force Recon Marine and watched my friends fight and die in defense of freedom. When I returned home from deployments, I was devastated to watch my friends continue to fight and die as they languished under the weight of such unseen wounds. I even battled them myself.

Veteran mental health illustration

True healing for veterans comes through faith-based programs that help service members restore a sense of identity, purpose and focus on a new mission. (istock)

Unfortunately, these wounds are harder to treat, especially when the treatment protocols being encouraged are nothing more than misguided Band-Aids. 

NATIONAL PTSD CRISIS KILLS FAR TOO MANY. IT CAN NO LONGER BE IGNORED

Instead of psychedelic drugs, which are being touted as the latest quick-fix, true healing for veterans comes through faith-based programs that help service members do the hard work to restore a sense of identity, purpose and focus on a new mission.

In a recent congressional oversight hearing regarding ongoing Department of Veterans Affairs clinical trials using psychedelic drugs to combat PTSD and substance abuse disorders, lawmakers and VA officials lavished praise for the use of ecstasy and magic mushrooms as “treatments.” One speaker even testified that it “puts the mind, body and spirit in the place it needs to be so the therapy can work.”

While even short-term gains can be a step in the right direction for struggling veterans, many who work and serve with such individuals, like retired Navy SEAL Matt Heidt, worry that these “quick fix” options merely placate and lull veterans into a false sense of healing. 

Having worked to support numerous fellow service members, Matt fears that rather than completing the hard work to really fix the issues and change their lives for better futures, some veterans may prematurely relax their guard when they suddenly feel better from such treatments.

Rather than settling for this temporary solution, Matt and others hope that veterans will acknowledge the doors that may have been opened by psychedelic use and then accept the challenge to continue a faith-based journey of true healing. 

TO PROTECT VETERANS’ MENTAL HEALTH, SENATORS AND VETS PUSH FOR MORE ACCESS TO SERVICE DOGS: ‘POWERFUL AVENUE’

What the proponents of these psychedelic options seem hesitant to acknowledge is that faith-based treatment programs, like those through the Mighty Oaks Foundation, help veterans to do the hard work to comprehensively heal their mind, body and spirit. Rooted in a commitment to faith-based principles, we understand that the journey to recovery is multifaceted and there is no “quick fix.”

In today’s society, faith has become a taboo subject, and hard work is often avoided in favor of options that make for short-term gains and quick political wins. While these psychedelics are being marketed as an easy magic bullet, retired Special Operations Sgt. Maj. Ian Hunter believes our veterans deserve better options than that. He works with the Mighty Oaks Foundation, empowering veterans with a group of people to support and hold them accountable as they face hard realities and make important decisions for a better life.

Our faith-based approach doesn’t merely mask symptoms by temporarily numbing or altering the mind with a drug-induced imitation of the kind of spiritual experiences that bring true healing. Instead of guiding them through a trip, our intensive programs blend evidence-based counseling with faith-centered support to guide veterans toward rediscovering their intrinsic value and finding a renewed sense of purpose. 

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We help them acknowledge and address the root of the issues that drag them down while providing a holistic healing experience that includes opportunities to serve in a new capacity that benefits our society, nation and world.

In contrast, psychedelic treatments may offer momentary relief, but they lack the enduring impact that faith-based programs can provide. Faith acts as an unwavering anchor, instilling a sense of purpose beyond the self, similar to the military mission purpose our veterans once embraced. This mission-driven focus allows them to reclaim a sense of worthiness and contribution to society, echoing the noble ideals they fought to defend.

Mighty Oaks Foundation recognizes the transformative power of faith. By fostering a community that understands the unique struggles of veterans, we empower individuals to defeat their challenges and become pillars of strength in their communities.

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In the quest for effective PTSD treatment, it is crucial to look beyond “quick fixes” and embrace comprehensive, faith-based programs that inspire lasting transformation. 

As we honor the sacrifices of our veterans, we must prioritize approaches that not only heal wounds but also reignite the flame of worth, purpose and resilience within their hearts and souls. Faith, after all, has the power to forge a resilience that withstands the tests of time and give veterans the life they deserve.

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