Kim Brundage, Kim Brundage Photography
“I heard Ben King’s powerful story of how he once considered his veteran experience a curse and now he sees it as a blessing. How profound is that? We can all benefit from mindfulness and meditation and Armor Down is bringing those benefits to veterans in RVA.”

Joe, a 38-year-old, highly decorated Marine veteran who served in Iraq during the invasion in 2003, was already dealing with PTSD when a devastating family crisis hit him hard. The resulting emotions were almost too much for him to bear.

During this time, a friend ran into Joe at a bar and recognized that the Marine was struggling. As a result of the “see suffering, say something” campaign, he connected Joe to Armor Down. Warriors are taught to push through their emotions or ignore them altogether, but Armor Down uses mindfulness techniques to help them address these emotions and retrain their minds to process events and sensations in a calmer manner.

In Armor Down’s New Mission First program, Joe was given an emotion screening test so that he was able to recognize emotions he had long ignored and the role they were playing in his life. The team then prepared the Marine for a Mindful Memorial Day at Arlington National Cemetery. On that day, Joe visited the grave sites of some of his fallen brothers at arms and participated in mindful meditation, including a gratitude practice.

“I am staying on the ‘course,’” says Joe, who has since coordinated a personal Bridge Project where veterans and civilians will sign an American flag to take to Arlington Cemetery on Memorial Day. “I hope we can change the way our veterans are treated and cared for. I need it to be known that what happened to me is not the way it needs to be. Once we pass through the fire, we will be American heroes as we already are.”

Help veterans use mindfulness to more successfully return to civilian life by volunteering or donating to Armor Down today!