After reading the August 12, 2013 issue of Air Force Times, I had to respond to two columns: Volunteerism and TransitioningVeteran.com and mixed martial arts (MMA) as an alternative treatment for PTSD (Bret Moore).
Volunteerism is an important topic and I applaud Air Force Times and the author for bringing this to the attention of your readers. What I do not understand is why one individual and his "pet project" received preferential treatment and outstanding (gratis) advertising when many other very deserving organizations, non-profits serving military and Veterans for example, are routinely overlooked.
As leader of a struggling non-profit serving military and Veterans with PTSD, I have submitted numerous letters and articles to your publication (several letters having been published), but was never offered an opportunity to showcase our non-profit ... Help4VetsPTSD (http://www.Help4VetsPTSD.org). I have published numerous articles related to military and Veteran mental health, the most recent in January's De Oppresso Liber magazine entitled "The Stigma Killing American Heroes", but have never been invited to be highlighted in your publication.
Why does TransitioningVeteran.com, an apparent for-profit enterprise, receive preferential treatment? This is not the first time I have seen private organizations given special treatment in your publication and it will likely not be the last.
In regard to Dr. Moore's column touting mixed martial arts and yoga as therapeutic alternatives, providing "substantial dividends" for PTSD sufferers, I have to raise the BS flag.
Yoga has been studied in empirically supported research studies and has been shown to provide positive dividends for those suffering from PTSD and other anxiety disorders. Yoga and other meditative states are beneficial (statistically), lowering cortisol levels and improving other stress-related symptoms when compared to no treatment.
Dr. Moore provided no reference to empirically supported, published research studies for either yoga or MMA and I do not recall ever having read anything about MMA being an effective alternative treatment for ANY chronic psychiatric condition, particularly PTSD.
I believe it is irresponsible for an individual, much less such a publication with a primarily military and Veteran audience as Military Times, to claim that a sport in which people beat each other to within an inch of their lives as therapeutic. There may very well be positive physical and mental benefits to both yoga and MMA, but it is irresponsible and unprofessional to claim that either deserves such prominence in your publication without adequate supporting research or, at the very least, a reference to a published study that provides empirically supported evidence of such a benefit.
Finally, Dr. Moore clearly does not understand the processes involved in yoga/meditation and their effects on lowering anxiety. He claims that yoga helps PTSD sufferers "fend off distressing thoughts", another form of avoidance and something any reasonable clinician would NOT want to promote in our clients. Yoga, meditation, and other Buddhist practices and beliefs DO NOT promote avoiding distressing thoughts, they DO promote simply accepting those thoughts in the present moment, thereby making them less threatening and increasing the individual's tolerance to experience the thoughts and associated emotions rather than avoiding them. Do your homework or leave it to the experts next time, giving your readers the accurate, objective information we deserve.
Chris Sorrentino, LtCol, USAF (Ret)
Executive Director, Help4VetsPTSD
Kansas City, MO