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Wounded Times

Where Veterans Get Their News

Sunday, February 3, 2013

Navy SEAL turns to treatment to heal a broken life

How is it easier to understand what it takes to heal a broken bone than it is to heal a broken life? Use whatever word you want, soul, mind, if you take issue with the choice of words in the following article, but if you do, then you are missing the most important message of it.

A broken leg bone will heal with just time but it doesn't heal right. The rest of the body suffers with endless pain, weakened by constantly compensating for the part that was broken. The pain will not allow true rest or sleep. Emotions get hung up on feeling the misery until every good experience is overcome by pain.

Yet when a broken bone is treated properly and is supported by a cast, it heals right. It heals in the right place after a doctor has reset it. Medication can numb the pain until it heals. The pain subsides as time goes by. The pain that remains is easy to adjust to and compensate for.

That is PTSD. It is a "break" that usually can't be seen by eyes unless it breaks through the skin. It can be healed with treatment but also needs to be healed with support. In this case, the support comes from family, friends, communities and mental health trauma experts. They become your cast so you are able to stand up supported until you can stand up on your own.

This story is about a Navy SEAL, as tough as they come, named Nathan. I urge you to read the whole article and if you take nothing else away from this, let it be the fact he was falling apart to the point where he wanted to end the pain he felt by ending his life.

Former Navy SEAL turns to treatment
Healing a broken life: Nathan lives with survivor’s guilt and PTSD following a failed Afghan mission
UT San Diego
By Jeanette Steele1
FEB. 2, 2013

It was 5 o’clock on a July morning, and Nathan’s mother stopped the car on Park Boulevard.

They looked at the collection of San Diego’s homeless veterans stretching up the block. It was a line of haggard faces, all waiting to get a warm meal and a cot for the weekend.

Nathan, a tall, broad-shouldered former Navy SEAL, was under a court order to join them. His precarious high-wire act fueled by alcohol and post-traumatic stress disorder had finally collapsed, ending in a dust-up outside a bar and a criminal charge.

A judge mandated treatment, starting with the “Stand Down” event for homeless vets.

Nathan remembers that morning, less than seven months ago. His mother cried.
His mind still carries the image of 11 buddies whose remains he had to gather after a disastrous June 2005 mission in Afghanistan’s Hindu Kush mountains. It was the single largest loss of life for Navy SEALs at that point since World War II: Operation Red Wings.


He was becoming one of them. He was already one of them.

“I was on the way out. I’ve put a gun in my mouth. I’ve felt it in my mouth. I’ve not known if there was a round in the chamber because I’ve been so drunk. And I’ve pulled the trigger,” said the 29-year-old San Diego native.

Nathan thinks combat vets, in particular those from special operations, should get at least three months to decompress before returning to normal American life. He calls the idea a “retreat,” where service members take classes on the interaction of PTSD and drugs or alcohol and tackle their VA paperwork.
read more here

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