Metal Detecting as a Therapy for PTSD
Posttraumatic Stress Disorder, otherwise known as PTSD, is a lifelong battle for many. According to VA.gov, approximately six out of one hundred people will struggle with PTSD. The disorder is usually caused due to a life-threatening or terrorizing event and can result in a plethora of effects. Most notably are the triggers that remind the person of the past trauma, anxiety, anger, and personality changes in the individual who is fighting to cope with what they have experienced. To some, there is no relief from the reminders that constantly replay in their mind. That’s where metal detecting may be of some use as a therapy for those struggling through.
If you have ever known someone with PTSD or experienced it yourself, then you know the power this condition can have. It changes people. Their mind is constantly working against them. Some turn to substance abuse or, even worse, suicide. As with many mental health conditions, we know very little about how to prevent or medically treat people who encounter the issues. Most therapies involve pharmaceuticals and behavior modification through talk therapy. These in combination with an activity such as metal detecting, which helps to quiet the mind, maybe a helpful combination for many to aid in their PTSD treatment.
Quieting the mind can be a lifesaver, but then add in the effects of being outdoors and you have a therapy like no other. That’s the beauty of the hobby we love. Not only are we saving history and cleaning up the planet, but we are also relieving stress by focusing on one simple task that is not a stressful experience. There is also the bonus of having a great community to turn to for support and camaraderie. The metal detecting community is a diverse, worldwide group full of a variety of people from all walks of life.
As the mother of a Marine veteran who has been diagnosed with PTSD, I know more than I ever wanted to about the condition. I watched as my son went from a confident young man to someone who carries a lot of anger, shame, pain, and fear. I searched far and wide for anything that could help him quiet his demons. That’s when I came across a gentleman by the name of Terry Soloman who runs a website called Metal Detectors 4 Veterans (MD4V). He teaches veterans with PTSD and other mental health conditions how to use a metal detector and then gifts those in need with one. He knows the value our hobby has as a PTSD therapy and is working to spread the word.
I recently reached out to Terry about his organization to get a better idea of why he started it and how fellow metal detectorists can help . Here is what Terry had to say.
Why did you start Metal Detectors 4 Veterans?
When I came home from three-years overseas, I had very bad PTSD. My brother took me out metal detecting for gold nuggets at a desert location we had prospected as kids with my father. While concentrating on hearing the signals in my headphones I had an epiphany. I realized that I felt relaxed for the first time in several years. I wasn’t hyperaware or anxious, just focused on what I was doing and enjoying myself. I was hooked. Four years ago, I met a young Iraq war veteran at my American Legion post that was also suffering from PTSD. I suggested he come with me to metal detect some farm fields upstate. We detected for about four-hours and took a break. During lunch, he told me he was having a great time and felt very relaxed, more than he had been for several years. After helping two more veterans with depression and anxiety, and achieving the same result, I knew I was on to something.
How do you feel about metal detecting as a therapy for PTSD?
I believe it is a very important therapy. Drug free, excellent exercise, fresh air, concentration and focus for the mind, and comradery.
What is the one thing that you feel is most useful for veterans who start metal detecting?
It allows the mind to slow down, to focus, without the side effect of powerful drugs that dull the mind and body.
How can people help Veterans or anyone struggling with PTSD in their area?
You can help by first understanding the individual and their particular needs and situation. Some men and women need more therapy and medical intervention than others, and should be encouraged to seek it out. They need understanding and empathy. Combined with these, metal detecting can be a powerful tool. Taking a veteran out metal detecting just once a week can help them tremendously.
How can people help to support MD4V?
We always need people that are willing to be mentors for a veteran in their area. Knowledgeable metal detectorists who have the ability to teach these men and women the basics of the hobby and help them with the machines and equipment MD4V.org can supply for our most financially insecure veterans. Secondly, we always need donated equipment. I am working with Garry Mueller, at Treasure Coast Metal Detectors, to set up a fund we can draw from to purchase equipment and detectors for the veterans we serve, so that folks can donate to our cause. https://treasurecoastmetaldetectors.com/ https://www.facebook.com/TreasureCoastMinelab
In conclusion, please remember PTSD is not exclusive to our military. It can be a part of anyone you may know or it may even be a part of you. I encourage anyone struggling to reach out. You are never alone, even when your mind says otherwise. You are not a burden. If metal detecting sounds like something that may interest you or be helpful to someone you know who is dealing with PTSD I suggest joining a few social media metal detecting communities and getting to know some of the people. They are all everyday people who began their first step into metal detecting at one point and most are more than willing to help others. There are even metal detecting groups to join and meet with in person. Metal detecting is an adaptable hobby for an unrelenting condition. Keep going.
Nicole Bauer resides in western Ohio. She is passionate about local history and works to preserve it for future generations as a member of multiple historical societies in her area. She has written for local newspapers as a lifestyle columnist and photojournalist. Nicole has been a lifelong relic hunter and has enjoyed metal detecting for over five years. She is a mom to two sons ages twenty and eighteen and has been married to her husband, Chad, for over twenty years. Metal detecting is a daily part of her life and she can usually be found out walking creeks, woods, and fields searching for items from the past. You can follow her explorations of Ohio on social media and YouTube at Ohio Metal Maven.