- Boulder Crest Retreat
- Norwich University
- Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center (First DoD-Funded TM Program)
Boulder Crest Retreat
Boulder Crest Retreat, located in Bluemont, Virginia 50 miles west of Washington, D.C., is the nation’s first privately-funded rural wellness center dedicated exclusively to U.S. combat veterans and their families. Transcendental Meditation is the cornerstone meditation technique of their combat stress recovery program for post-traumatic growth (PTG) called the Warrior PATHH. Warrior PATHH is an 18-month program, which begins with a one-week, high-intensity experience at BCR and then provides regular support at a distance over the following months. It is a multi-modal treatment program, which also also includes labyrinth walks, archery, kayaking, horticulture, music, art, bonfires, and brotherhood/sisterhood.
Dusty Baxley, executive director of the Boulder Crest Retreat, refers to TM as the “secret sauce,” which helps make everything else work. “As a combat veteran myself, I know what it is like to be on both sides of feeling down and filled with anxiety and being able to find peace and calm,” says Baxley. “Transcendental Meditation is life-changing, especially for combat veterans.”
Boulder Crest Retreat focuses on helping veterans and their families achieve “post-traumatic growth.” TM is key to their program because it is something that the veterans can take with them and continue to use to reduce stress, build resilience, and bring them closer to themselves after they leave the one-week retreat.
Paul Downs, a Boulder Crest graduate and regular TM practitioner noted, “TM gives me a centering, calming focal point amid the chaotic pull of the everyday struggle. … Thoughts that were bound become unbound; emotions that were unclear become clear; plans that weren’t grounded become grounded.”
Norwich University in Northfield, Vermont, is the oldest, private, military college in the United States and the birthplace of ROTC. The TM program began at Norwich in pilot form in 2011 with funding from the David Lynch Foundation. In that year, thirty students were randomly assigned to a platoon learning TM and another thirty to a control platoon.
President Richard Schneider, Rear Admiral USCGR (Ret.), recalls that “within four or five weeks, the kids who didn’t get the training were complaining that the other kids had an advantage over them.” Within 90 days, the platoon that learned TM was outperforming the control platoon in every measurable functional area.
These results were substantiated by psychological and neurophysiological tests conducted by the faculty at Norwich. The research found significant reductions in depression, anxiety, and stress in the TM platoon and significant increases in constructive thinking, behavioral coping and resilience. This study was replicated in the next year at Norwich and they found the same results.
By fall of 2016, more than 600 students had learned TM, including more than 10% of the 2016-17 students. As President Schneider says, “We owe it to [our students] to give them the very best tools to win, and I think this is one of those tools.”
First DoD-Funded TM Program–Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center, Fort Gordon, Georgia
Fort Gordon in Augusta, Georgia, is home to Dwight D. Eisenhower Army Medical Center. Since 2012, Transcendental Meditation has been taught at Eisenhower’s Warrior Transition Battalion—which helps injured soldiers transition either to civilian life or back into active duty—and their state-of-the-art Traumatic Brian Injury (TBI) Unit. The program was initially supported by funding from the David Lynch Foundation and now, because of the success of the program, it is being funded through contracts from the Department of Defense.
The impact of TM on soldiers at Fort Gordon has been documented via research carried out at Eisenhower. The study showed that when soldiers with PTSD practiced TM, they stabilized or reduced their need for psychotropic medicines compared to controls and had a reduction in the severity of their psychological symptoms. The findings have encouraged a number of other TBI clinics around the country to consider using the TM technique as an adjunctive therapy.