by Chaplain Kathie
Wounded Times Blog
October 23, 2012
The military repeats one suicide too many but nothing changes. We've all heard the term weapons of mass destruction but it is time for a new one. Weapons of Mass Survival. Here are just a few that do not cost millions of dollars. Instead of taking thousands of lives, these weapons will save lives.
The making of a soldier
Fort Benning Television - The series begins with the very first day. From getting haircuts to basic issue, we follow the action of what it is like to go through Fort Benning Basic Training.
Uniform, change back into civilian clothes means changing from soldier to civilian as well. As you take off your uniform and put on your jeans, remember the training it took to get you from the other way around to where you are.
Was it easy? Was it hard? They cut off your hair, put you in with strangers expecting you to be able to not just get along with them, but be able to die for them.
They trained you to use body parts you didn't even know you had.
Then they put you into a foreign country where bombs were planted.
You knew with each one that it could have been you. What you don't really understand is, in the back of your mind, that blast, that event with all the other events piled up. You didn't have time to notice. There were more events you had to be concerned with. The next IED. The next time people were hiding with you in their gun sites. The next time you'd have to watch a friend die.
15 US Marines Killed in Iraq Attack
You may have survivor guilt because you survived what took the life of your buddy.
PTSD I Grieve from Kathleen "Costos" DiCesare on Vimeo.
So what do you do with all of this?
First, take the crap they told you about "training your brain to be mentally tough" so that you could be "resilient" against all of it. Resiliency is what comes after, not before. No amount of training can prepare you for going through all of this. You become resilient when you face it head on after the fact. Talk about it! Think about it. Not just the outcome. That won't help get the image out of your head. You need to think about all of it from start to finish.
If all you focus on is the end, then that is all you'll see and it is evil. You won't be able to see anything you did that was brave, compassionate, or anything others did in response to it. Anytime someone is able to rise above something during war and do something out of kindness, no matter how small, indicates that humans are not pure evil and that has to come from what is inside of themselves along with what is inside of you. If you focus only on evil, you can't see good.
Talk it out. Listen to others. Don't judge them, tell them to get over it, forget about it or act as if you don't want to hear it anymore. If they need to talk and you won't listen, you may not have the chance to listen later because they took their weapon and ended the conversation with a bullet to their own head. If you are the one needing to be listened to, remind them of the time they spent training on redundant procedures repeated over and over again. Let them know how much you need to be listened to. You never know. Once you start talking, they may finally come to terms they need to talk too. You just gave them the opportunity to do it.
Talk to your family. You don't have to tell them every detail. Most families can't handle it. Just tell them why you can't sleep at night or what they can do to help if you have a nightmare. Tell them what you need from them when you have a flashback. Tell them what you need from them as much as you listen to what they need from you. Do it calmly. They are not your enemy. They want to help and understand almost as much as they want you to go back to the way you were before. They just don't understand that is impossible. Help them understand that. Tell them that everything in their own life changes them too.
Your deployment caused changes in them too. They just didn't notice.
You need them to support you. You need to take care of your body and learn how to calm down again, walk away from an argument and remember what made you love your wife/husband in the first place. All that was good inside of you is still there and all that was good inside of them is there too. You just need to heal the pain to rediscover it.
After talking, PTSD stops getting worse. You may cry and think it is getting worse but it is actually getting better. You are taking down the walls and releasing emotions. This is draining.
You need to take care of your body with a good diet to replace what is being sucked away by your emotions. FEED your body especially until you are able to sleep better and get rest.
Taking care of your body also includes teaching it to calm down again. Yoga, meditation, walking and Martial Arts helps retrain your body to calm down as much as basic training taught it to be pumped up.
Spiritual healing is also needed. You need to be able to forgive others. To believe you are forgiven for whatever you feel you need to be forgiven for. The hardest one is to be able to forgive yourself. Once you do that, then the rest of your life is back in your control.
You trained to be sent. You have to be trained to come home.