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Camp Hope Unleashed and Muse collaborate to help veterans with PTSD

The veteran campers of Camp Hope Unleased ©Tom Rudd
The veteran campers of Camp Hope Unleased ©Tom Rudd

We’re always looking for inspirational stories and amazing individuals that find success through meditation with Muse. We recently came across Camp Hope Unleashed, a program off-shooting from a collaboration between Camp Unleashed, Tails of Hope Foundation and the Faithful Friends Service Dog Foundation. Camp Hope Unleashed creates an accessible space for veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and their trusty service dogs. Muse teamed up with Camp Hope Unleashed to provide support by giving away Muse headbands and to observe the results. We had the opportunity to speak with Dr. Kay Loveland afterwards and learn of Camp Hope Unleashed’s efforts to rehabilitate those with PTSD.

Resulting from their time deployed, veterans are unable to enjoy certain activities due to triggers reminding them of previous traumatic experiences. Anything from a loud sound to somebody approaching from behind could be the cause of anxiety. This became the inspiration for establishing Camp Hope Unleashed. After meeting a young woman who returned from her deployment in Iraq, Loveland came to understand the need for inclusive camps. The veteran was afraid to try out a camp because of all the potential triggers that could induce her PTSD. However when the woman eventually attended, Dr. Loveland learned that with some practice, it isn’t difficult to accommodate a veteran. With the help of fellow campers, veterans could go about their stay in peace. When the Camp Hope Unleashed pilot project was born, it was home to eight veterans accompanied by their service dogs in addition to volunteer first-responders.

Camp Hope veteran meditating with Muse. ©Tom Rudd
Camp Hope veteran meditating with Muse. ©Tom Rudd

The camp trained trauma resiliency skills, drawing from the work of neuroplasticity, aiming to reshape one’s thoughts. This made Muse an excellent learning tool for the veterans. Muse was initially met with skepticism, Loveland admitted. Although gradually, the campers took a liking to it, eventually competing in “bird-off’s”; a friendly competition comparing the Muse app’s reward system. Muse’s audible feedback loop proved to be invaluable in this circumstance. For many silence could also be a trigger, complicating meditation as a form of therapy.

Muse is now used every day by the veterans, even outside of the camp. Dr. Loveland recalls that sleep is extremely elusive according to the veterans. They claim the tool has helped them fall asleep, rethink their need for sleep medication, and was useful in keeping their cool. Loveland suspects that the appeal is in Muse’s ability to visually display results. She believes veterans and EMT’s (Emergency Medical Technicians) aren’t comfortable sharing their feelings and would rather, more objectively, read stats and chart improvements which is something that Muse provides after every session. “When they see they have some power to change this… to have something show that it is possible, it makes it seem more real”, says Loveland. Now, when the veterans find themselves troubled, Loveland says they look forward to revisiting the meditation tool, knowing it will help as it has done many times before.

 

One of Camp Hope's many emotional support dogs. ©Tom Rudd
One of Camp Hope’s many emotional support dogs. ©Tom Rudd
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