I have a deep admiration for those that serve our country in the armed forces. There are plenty of sacrifices, being away from home, the constant danger, sleep deprivation, and loss of comrades. But an often overlooked sacrifice is mental, emotional, and spiritual health.
The process of preparing our solders and then releasing from duty is quite unethical. Think about it. We take someone from a relatively safe environment, and teach them to expect the opposite. We teach them to be hypervigilant and aware of their surroundings, react on a dime, fight to kill, put others before self, and prepare for possible death. There is a definite emotional and spiritual process that needs to shut down in order to accomplish these goals.
Then, upon return to ‘mainstream’ society, we expect the soldier to be able to return to that place of safety and peace, and reconnect with a mundane routine. It is as if we pretend that the emotional and spiritual ‘shut-off’ can be turned back on with a flip of a switch. But when turned back on, the implications of years of training, war, danger, and loss can be quite frightening, overwhelming, and depressing. You don’t need to have served in the armed forces to understand that this kind of job changes you.
Don’t me wrong, I am not suggesting that there is a “better” way or condemning the process. I am just pointing out the reality and consequences of the profession.
I have to admit, I don’t have any direct family members that have served. I can’t explain why I took an interest in post traumatic stress, thus becoming trained in EMDR. I realize there are many different types of trauma, but my mind always goes back to veterans. Maybe I was a badass soldier myself (or knew someone who was) in a past life. You never know.
To give back, I reserve 1 pro-bono slot for a veteran in the Treasure Coast area who is committed and motivated to reclaim his or her life through therapy. Someone who is willing to be brave and address the core issue rather than dance around the symptoms. Someone who is not getting their needs met through insurance or traditional talk therapy. Someone who lost their mental, emotional, and spiritual health and now wants to flip the switch back on.