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PTSD - The Warrior Lives!

Posted By Blackfive • [February 06, 2009]

I've been fortunate to receive a few messages from vets who now are on the psyche side of the medical profession.  I'll post their messages in subsequent posts.  Here's one referring to this post about PTSD:

Dear Sir,

I tired of the pabulum that is passed off as journalism a long time ago. That is why I am a daily visitor to Blackfive and other alternative sites. Yours is where I get the military news and insight that most people just don't Get! That said, I read the recent post about PTSD, and I would like to contribute my humble opinion.

I am a former Marine, proud holder of a Purple Heart and a practicing psychotherapist. The focus of my work is, primarily, combat trauma, but I have worked with trauma from a wide variety of sources. I have been employed by the V.A. and the [location redacted] VetCenter. Of course, my personal experience of, having been there, allows me to work with veterans in a manner other therapists may find difficult to match. I'm not raising my own flag, but traditional psychology is ill prepared to effectively work with combat trauma.

In my years of work and study I have come to the conclusion that many of the therapies in use today for PTSD do not do the job. That is they do not help to restore the veteran to a state of harmony or even to the level of functioning the vet experienced while in a combat theater. In my opinion this happens because the focus of too many therapists is to revert the vet to who they were prior to their experienced trauma. This is impossible.

Combat irrevocably changes the person and this does not indicate a negative change. Combat is a super enema for the brain; it flushes out the toxins of illusory experience. More specifically, it shatters layers of your world view, peels away your fascination with petty thoughts and interests, and restores the natural state of living in the here and now. In fact, there are, and have been through the ages, countless people who devote time and energy in an attempt to achieve the inner state that the combat experience brings.

I believe that most of us are responding to an ancient, subconscious call to become warriors when we join the military. And the military will accommodate us, even calling us warriors, but that esteemed title usually only lasts as long as our enlistment. In truth, the warrior spirit has no expiration date. Once undertaken it becomes a life long calling, a way of life. This consideration is most important when applied to someone coping with PTSD. From personal experience, I know that combat and the discipline, the bond of brothers, and the learned capacity to live completely in the present, is actually very sustaining. Too often though, once the structure is left behind it's as though we have lost something that kept us spiritually alive.

The transition from the military to civilian life can be difficult enough, but add the complications of PTSD and it can then seem intolerable. There is, I believe, a way to ease the transition and that is to remember that because of our experience we are different, proudly different, and that our experiences have shown us our capacity to draw from an inner strength that we would have remained ignorant of without the hardships we endured.

When we embrace the warrior way of life it can give us a foundation to build on, especially when we feel that we have lost some or all of our identity. We can learn to adapt to PTSD by learning the signs and using the same strength that helped us to survive combat. Adapt and learn, understand anxiety and depression, be aware of your triggers, cultivate an inner peace and hold on to your warrior identity.

Some prior Blackfive PTSD Posts:


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» Dawn Patrol 02/06/09 from The Dawn Patrol
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