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Manhattan College course helps veteran students succeed in civilian life

"The Manhattan College 'Veterans at Ease' program is a truly unique investment in our student veterans."

-- Professor Stephen Kaplan, Manhattan College Religious Studies Professor/Director for Veterans Success.

Some 60 veteran/students are currently experiencing the healing power of yoga, meditation and stress reduction techniques in the college's religious studies program supporting veterans' return to, and success in, civilian and academic life.

Context: The National Center for PTSD offers insights on what many returning veterans have experienced:

Symptoms of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder):

  • Reliving the event (flashbacks, nightmares)
  • Avoiding situations reminding of the traumatizing event
  • Negative changes in beliefs and feelings
  • Feeling keyed up (hyper-arousal)

"Veterans At Ease", now in its third year, includes a four-day stress reduction retreat run by Warriors at Ease, a non-profit organization facilitating transition from sympathetic (fight or flight) responses to parasympathetic (relaxation) responses.

A participant's assessment:

"I experience[d] perhaps one of the greatest times of my life ... I suffer from PTSD and the training and techniques I learned have helped me manage my anxiety levels ... I strongly believe they can help during stressful times such as midterms and finals ... In addition, I believe all the veterans strengthened their relationships with each other."

And Professor Kaplan notes some important long-term positive outcomes:

"Our student veterans become campus leaders organizing and presenting academic panels to students and faculty. They stay in college, graduate and successfully transition to a post-graduate life."

Of course, the veterans deserve nothing less - and far more.

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