People have always said that laughter is the best medicine, but is there really any truth to the saying? What sort, if any, medicinal benefits does laughter have on the body? What about the mind?, the on-line database for the Discovery Channel, uses results from studying “psychoneuroimmunology,” or “the relationship between human behavior (in this case, laughing) and the mind, and how it affects the immune system”. That is, laughter has been clinically proven to boost the immune system, as well as lower stress levels, and subsequently, blood pressure and other heart ailments. In fact, has found ten reasons why laughter can be used as a supplement for medicine in an article called, “10 Reasons Why Laughter is Good for You”.

Rounding out the bottom of the list is the way laughter releases pleasure hormones known as endorphins, while simultaneously lowering levels of cortisol, a dominant stress hormone that over time, can cause both physical and mental ailments to occur. Keeping stress levels under control is therefore key to overall health and a healthy outlook on life.

Another main benefit of laughter is that it helps develop coping skills. That is, laughter enables us to better deal with stressful and tense situations. Basically, we learn to laugh at our troubles rather than worry about them. Additionally, we learn not to take ourselves so seriously, which for some, can be quite a liberating realization. Apparently, laughter even teaches us to manage pain. How? “Laughter eases fear and anger,” which allows us to better cope and logically react to a certain situation.

Coincidentally, these reasons, paired with many others included in the article, can be best attributed to the tumultuous emotional state of combat veterans. The U.S. Department of Veterans’ Affairs reports that one in five combat veterans develops Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, either during or shortly after combat. The Mayo Clinic defines PTSD as having three main categories of symptoms: “re-experiencing symptoms,” “avoidance symptoms,” and “hyperarousal symptoms”. These categories can be simplified to describe symptoms of flashbacks and nightmares, feeling of guilt and depression, and insomnia, respectively.

Not to say that veterans who suffer from PTSD should self-medicate with only laughter as their medicine of choice, but learning to stand back and focus on the humor of a situation can greatly reduce their astronomical stress levels. But veterans are still encouraged to receive actual medical treatment, such as talk-therapy and perhaps even psychiatric medication, to help ease their symptoms and accelerate their rehabilitation.

However, veterans should be wary of seeking this sort of treatment through the VA, since reports released by CBS in 2013 revealed that medical professionals associated with the VA prescribed 259% more narcotics than in 2002, and that individualized therapy had fallen by the wayside. Therefore, ailing soldiers and veterans who suffer from PTSD might want to consider consulting outside organizations to rehabilitate their physical and mental health, as well as help make themselves more competitive in the job market.

One of those organizations is Operation: I.V, a 501(c)3 non-profit founded in 2012 that helps combat veterans heal from both PTSD as well as traumatic brain injuries. Its founder, Roxann Abrams, is a Gold Star Mother who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams in 2009. Randy took his own life after experiencing a PTSD flashback from his service in Iraq. Randy had undiagnosed PTSD- a common occurrence among combat veterans either due to mistakes made by the medical field or simply the individual’s failure to report such grave symptoms.

As a result of her son’s death, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. so that combat veterans who served in either Iraq or Afghanistan have a place to receive treatment through a specialized “VIP”, or “Veteran Intervention Plan” program. “VIP” offers ten different rehabilitation programs, including hyperbolic oxygen therapy, service dogs, and anxiety reduction therapy. Additionally, veterans may also partake in programs such as job retraining, business mentoring, and educational assistance. Again, while there is no cure for PTSD, the programs provided by Operation: I.V. can drastically improve a veteran’s mental health and overall outlook on life!

Author's Bio: 

Abigail Fazelat is a contributing writer for Operation: I.V., a non-profit organization founded by Gold Star Mother Roxann Abrams who lost her son SFC Randy Abrams to PTSD. Randy took his own life after experiencing a wartime flashback- an experience not uncommon to any combat veteran. As a result, Abrams founded Operation: I.V. as an “intravenous of help” for other Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans suffering from PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, and contemplating suicide. Fazelat has worked for the organization since October 2013 under a pseudonym.