I most certainly am not an Edward Tick, author of War and the Soul: Healing Our Nation’s Veterans from Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, and a few other books, as well as the article in Yes Magazine linked above. He is also the director and senior psychotherapist of Soldier’s Heart: Veteran’s Safe Return Initiatives.
So I’ll give a few of the cuts from the article and add some other related information I’ve recently received.
Breaking the cycle of war making: our country will not find peace until we take responsibility for our wars.
He starts out the article with the above quote and this:
Guilt, shame, slaughter without purpose, alienation from homeland and life itself-this was the legacy that Günter passed on to his son Walt from his World War II combat service in Hitler’s Wehrmacht. Walt, “the only child born in freedom,” was born in the United States shortly after his parents emigrated here from Germany. Growing up in the Cold War 1950s, Walt longed to be an all-American boy, but was always the Indian to his friends’ cowboys and the “Kraut” to their G.I. Joes.
The Warrior’s Path
Our troops do not enlist because they want to destroy or kill. No matter the political climate, most troops seek to serve traditional warrior values: to protect the country they love, its ideals, and especially their families, communities, and each other. If they must kill or be killed, they need transcendent reasons to do so. Throughout history, the only reason for fighting that has survived moral scrutiny is a direct attack with real, immediate threat to one’s people. PTSD is, in part, the tortured conscience of good people who did their best under conditions that would dehumanize anyone.
Warriorhood, however, is not so valued or nurtured in modern society. “Warrior” is not even a recognized social class. A veteran, especially one with disabilities, appears to many, and sometimes to him or herself, as a failure in terms of normal civilian identity. Michael fears that, as an experienced combat veteran, the only place on the planet he now fits is in the French Foreign Legion.
The Echoes of War
War abroad fosters war at home. When we go to war, we inevitably bring its violence and horror back to our homes and streets. We cannot help it.
Cleansing the Warrior
War poisons the spirit, and warriors return tainted. This is why, among Native American, Zulu, Buddhist, ancient Israeli, and other traditional cultures, returning warriors were put through significant rituals of purification before re-entering their families and communities. Traditional cultures recognized that unpurified warriors could, in fact, be dangerous. The absence of these rituals in modern society helps explain why suicide, homicide, and other destructive acts are common among veterans.
A Double Wound
Sitting Bull and his warriors, and other bands from innumerable traditional cultures, were never plagued with self-doubt about the value of their mission, as many of our soldiers are today. In order to do battle with a whole heart, the danger and threat to one’s home must be real, and the people must experience it as immediate and about to threaten their total existence; there must be no alternative. A people and their warriors must be in unity.
Ed goes on to explain further each of the topics above and has a few more topics of explaination below those. He closes with this:
I asked Walt’s permission to tell his story during our farewell visit in the hospital where he was dying of Agent Orange cancers. He was surprised at first, but finally said, “I was afraid my life was worthless. But please tell my story. Please make it mean something. Maybe it can help some other poor souls avoid my fate.”
Read an excerpt from conscientious objector Aidan Delgado’s The Sutras of Abu Ghraib: Notes from a Conscientious Objector in Iraq
And some links:
Pentagon spends record on TBI, PTSD research, a drop in the bucket of what’s needed, was needed long ago, and will cost even more if not taken seriously this time!