All the VPoM programs are based on secular (nonreligious) mindfulness practices.
The detrimental effects of combat exposure on mental health have long been recognized. Depression, anxiety, Post Traumatic Stress (PTSD) and elevated rates of suicide and violence are common among returning veterans. According to the Substance Abuse and Mental Health Services Administration (SAMHSA), an estimated one in five Iraq and Afghanistan veterans will suffer from PTSD or major depression. For Vietnam-era veterans, PTSD rates are even more staggering – over 30% of male Vietnam veterans have had symptoms that were consistent with PTSD at some point in their lives.
Despite these staggering odds for veterans, there is hope. PTSD is considered an anxiety disorder, and as such, clinically effective methods that are useful in treating other anxiety-related disorders are often useful in treating PTSD. Mindfulness is one such method. Mindfulness training teaches patients to recognize and disengage from modes of thinking characterized in traumatized veterans by disturbing and ruminative thinking. Mindfulness meditation applies the skill of intentionally paying attention to one’s thoughts, without judgment. Rather than dwelling on unpleasant thoughts and memories, the meditation techniques taught by VPoM instructors teaches veterans to separate their thoughts from their experiences, allowing them to honor the service they have given and empowering them to move beyond their pain, both physical and mental. The efficacy of mindfulness meditation has been acknowledged by the VA , as well as The Marine Corps, where mindfulness practices are being used to help soldiers before and after deployment. This advocacy is not only based on positive qualitative results, but on a growing body of scientific research that demonstrates the physiological benefits of mindfulness. For example, Researchers at Massachusetts General Hospital found that the grey matter density of the frontal cortex, the part of the brain that manages higher cognitive functions, was significantly increased in meditators. Scientists have also found that the region of the brain most associated with emotional reactivity and fear, the amygdala, can decrease in grey matter in those who meditate. Hence the brain activity that generates anxiety and aggression lowers while the activities of discernment and reflection expand.
 Institute of Medicine (IOM), “Preface,” in Treatment for Posttraumatic Stress Disorder in Military and Veteran Populations: Initial Assessment (Washington, DC: The National Academies Press, 2012), p. xiii
 Vujanovic, A.A., Niles, B., Pietrefesa, A., Potter, C. M.,& Schmertz, S.K. (2010). Potential of mindfulness in treating trauma reactions. Professional Psychology Research and Practice 42(1), 24-31. Retrieved from http://www.ptsd.va.gov/professional/treatment/overview/mindful-PTSD.asp
 Holzen, B. K., Carmody, J., Vangel, M., Congleton, C., Yerramsetti, S., Gard, T., & Lazar, W. (2011). Mindfulness practice leads to increases in regional brain grey matter density. Psychiatry Res., 191(1), 36-43. Retrieved from http://www.ncbi.nlm.Nih.gov/pmc/articles/PMC3004979/
 Holzel, B. K., Carmody, J., Evans, K. C., Hoge, E.A., Dusek, J. A., Morgan, L., Pitman, R. K., Lazar, S.W. Stress reduction correlates with structural changes in the amygdala. Retrieved from http://scan.oxfordjournals.org/content/5/1/11.full