I’ve heard that many a time; have to confess to saying it myself at times either directed toward myself or some other person. Life can hurt, but to be successful it seems important to put a brave face on and ‘soldier on’; to keep on no matter how you may feel. I’ve done this for years, I thought somewhat successfully, until this past weekend when Kathy and I attended a workshop/seminar on Post Traumatic Stress and the impact it has on lives.
William Tecumseh Sherman once opined regarding war,
“I am tired and sick of war. Its glory is all moonshine. It is only those who have neither fired a shot nor heard the shrieks and groans of the wounded who cry aloud for blood, for vengeance, for desolation. War is hell.”
One of the speakers, a Marine combat veteran, stated it rather succinctly when he said that war kills the soul of any who participate in the hell that is all too real for those who have ‘seen the elephant,’ a descriptive phrase attributed to first being used in the mid to late 19th century as a way of describing someone who has encountered something (usually combat) that results in overwhelming emotion and disturbance.
War twists the psyche in unimaginable ways, often not surfacing for years or even decades when sleep disturbances, bursts of anger, paranoia and hyper-awareness can turn an apparent normal person into a quivering echo of their former self. It will take you where you do not want to go, but you cannot gainsay it’s overwhelming command and find yourself watching almost from a third person viewpoint as you either explode or implode.
Gary Cunha is the Suicide Prevention Coordinator for the Department of Veteran’s Affairs; his task is monumental because as of today we are losing one veteran to suicide every 62 minutes. He spoke on the spiritual component of obtaining help, of experiencing hope in the midst of despair. While speaking to experienced counsellors like Gary will help, there is only one solution to bring light into such dark places.
If you are a veteran, you are not alone. No matter what may have happened to you, there is help readily available through the Veterans Crisis Line. Call 1-800-273-8255, press 1 and you will have a ready ear who does understand to share your burdens. An additional resource for all Veterans (and one not directly linked with the VA) can be found here. For those who have not served; please, pray for our military and veterans and thank God that you have been shielded from the horror and hell that is war by those who volunteer to face it for you.