We are rescued by those whom we have rescued. The saved become the saviors of their saviors.
– Dean Koontz, The Darkest Evening of the Year
Melissa Flemings, who has worked with refugees, claims in a TED Radio Hour segment that the victims of war can hold the key to lasting peace. She believes for this to happen the stories of survivors must be heard.
Recently I took part in a research study with regard to OIF and OEF veterans that was designed to examine how a vet’s post traumatic stress syndrome affects present and past relationship partners. Psychiatrists are now discovering that the failure of military systems to provide effective deprogramming to help veterans resolve war trauma is resulting in widespread PTSD in their “dependents” as well, as if wives, husbands, children, and even romantic partners are also traumatized war survivors.
Seems incorrectly treated or untreated PTSD in combat vets is contagious, and secondary victims now have their own war stories to tell.
Though stress disorders may be somewhat “contagious” in general, combat vets and those that love them are uniquely susceptible to this emerging PTSD epidemic.
I think it’s a big mistake to assume that this is ocurring because combat-related PTSD (what used to be called battle fatigue) is somehow by nature far worse than any other form of PTSD. Stress disorders are worse and going viral among the military population because this country keeps its soldiers ready for deployment by medical suppression of symptoms and emotions, utilizing anti-depressants, anti-anxieties and stigma propaganda.
Stress disorders are worse and going viral among the military population because military entities largely do not make use of cognitive therapies known world-wide to help heal PTSD.
Let me reiterate:
Our veteran services largely do not promote cognitive therapies known world-wide to help heal PTSD.
Trigger normalization in particular, not avoidance of benign triggers, and detachment from all abusive authority figures, whether it be from disordered parents (preventing infantile regression) or from those very broken systems (military or governmental) who by nature continue to place in harm’s way but won’t set free, is necessary for a vet, like all trauma survivors, to adjust to normal life. As well, one traumatized must relearn the trauma to which one has been exposed and how the conscious and unconscious mind relates to it. One must unlearn what one has learned wrongly.
Why would psychology be anything different for a soldier? Are we not all human beings with the same basic, human needs?
If vets want effective help they have to realize they need it, it’s out there, and obtain it on their own (like the rest of us) but typically will not do so because they place unconditional trust in systems for which they were, for lack of a better word, brainwashed to be expendible.
And what disturbs me the most is that military authorities and strategists are aware of this. They know the law of war is the exact opposite of the laws of love and life, and that our government’s lack of psychological accountability is killing vets, their loved ones and families, but are doing nothing about it. Encouraging the use of maintanance strategies such as yoga or dissociative meditation is not the answer. Relaxation therapies are not the same thing as providing combat vets with grounding strategies and effective, corrective, cognitive, mental exercise tools that they really need. Couching the argument in terms of dollars spent on ill-designed military or veteran medical programs urgently in need of reform, not more dollars, is a glaringly obvious, intentional diversion to anyone familiar with the means to overcome PTSD, who will notice effective therapies and instruction noteably lacking, and in reality, not even being promoted within the veteran medical community.
To make matters even worse, war is different now.
The enemy is different now.
We are different now.
Because today’s war is terrorism.
I believe terrorists’ placing of their own innocent women and children in harm’s way and using them as human explosives has contributed to returning vets misidentifying their own loved ones as emotional liabilities, being triggered by them, and mistaking them for the enemy. Having to watch one’s friends being sent directly into harm’s way without being allowed to do anything to help save them just reinforces this. Who will turn on who, and who will abandon who first for this “greater”, terrifying cause?
In America, trauma related disorders are epidemic, while those who have the power to shape public opinion impose volatile mental manipulations on those unitiated in the self-serving brokeness of our political, military and medical systems. In our country we now have powerful leaders who actually suggest disproportionate untrustworthiness and potential for invasion, criminality and violence in all persons of certain nationalities. These politicians promote enmity towards those that speak out and warn against the dangers of their own fear mongering and racism.
Those who warn against the dangers of enabling PTSD in combat vets are likewise blamed for our veteran’s inability to recover from PTSD.
Americans are pressured by veteran “activists” to stop setting off celebratory fireworks on the fourth of July, and are wrongly taught to walk on eggshells around anyone traumatized from active duty. These kinds of behaviors would not only normalize a disorder, PTSD, they do nothing to help non-deployed veterans express their emotions and normalize life – while actually encouraging an uneducated public to view the combat vet as helpless and inherently more dangerous to himself or others.
None the less, some veteran groups continue to encourage vets to blame those who are simply out enjoying life, and healthily living it. Now it’s those who live life who are untrustworthy, and the pathology that must not be denied accomodation.
And while flashbacks and panic attacks are a normal response to unresolved trauma, normalizing refusal to resolve trauma, and normalizing refusal to separate from by-nature abusive authority figures that cause PTSD in the first place, while wrongly blaming other innocents for what vets are going through, is not.
What could be a more irresponsible thing to do to our vets and the families vets will, if no one gives them the information and tools they really need to heal, ultimately abandon?
People don’t get trauma disorders simply because they have been exposed to trauma.
They get PTSD because they have been lied to, indoctrinated or brainwashed in some manner by an authority figure about trauma. They have been incorrectly taught (in some manner, through some kind of system, familial or otherwise) that trauma or abuse equals love, duty or obligation. The victim knows deep down inside what they’ve subconsciously learned is not true, and this makes them feel out of control. The symptoms of PTSD are just the body’s way of letting the conscious state know there is something that must be revisited and relearned correctly, so that they can heal and enjoy life again.
As Yoda said, you must unlearn what you have learned.
But what that is that must be relearned correctly is usually the last thing that will occur to a victim of PTSD, especially if he or she tries to dissociate, meditate, medicate or suppress symptoms away. And although the last thing that occurs to the PTSD victim is that in some manner they have been scammed, it is always true that in some manner they have been scammed, and typically, once the person figures out how and why, they are well on the road to recovery. Quite honestly, they are usually blaming themselves for something they need to correctly blame on someone or something else.
Examples of healable PTSD and the authority figures that unjustly impose it include the following:
A father beats or molests his son, teaching the innocent child he deserves and needs to dispense physical abuse to become a man, and if the child objects or tells on the father, the father will beat the boy’s mother and siblings as well, placing the child in a double bind.
An emotionally suppressed Cluster A single mother teaches that manipulation and emotional absence is maternal or feminine love, and that it is her son’s job, even when grown, to protect or save such a mother from exposure. If the adult offspring manages to separate from the false mother, or finds an adult woman who loves them in a healthy manner, such a mother will verbally or emotionally punish the adult son, and scapegoat the healthy relationship partner.
A drill sergeant teaches (commonly male) soldiers it is their job to “save” those in a dependent position (commonly women and children), but showing emotion for the victims it is their job to save is discouraged, because emotions make a soldier vulnerable. And if the victim is the enemy’s race, the authoritative sergeant teaches that those victims are expendible. This is because secondary victims could be being used as human weapons. Therefore a US soldier must be on guard against any innocent or ill-used it is their job to save. Soldiers have been taught to be willing to kill or abandon those whom they would in other circumstances protect or love.
Yet military authorities will never teach vets it’s time to drop their guard against innocent victims so that the soldier can get on with love and life. They are much like Manchurian candidates brainwashed with a mental disorder that only works in a war zone.
And these same military “authorities”, that with “good” intentions inevitably “lie” on the battle field about the expendibility of innocent human life, will send vets to continue to stand guard at the funeral of a soldier who has died in the line of duty.
This may be a beautiful, even admirable and touching token of gratitude towards the deceased soldier and their grieving family, but it wrongly implies that loyalty to a by-nature abusive system (even after death) is the law of love. And considering the suicide rates of soldiers with PTSD and the increasing rates of suicide among military family members including children, it smacks of way too little too late. It will continue to appear this way to self aware individuals until military authorities provide a surviving soldier and their families the correct cognitive therapy and effective deprogramming tools necessary to have a normal life, which would involve learning how to drop one’s guard, and perhaps leaving the war lifestyle behind them entirely.
The situations I have described are classic psychological double binds that destroy unaware victims from within if they are not revisited, and the laws of love and life are not relearned correctly and properly restored.
PTSD victims typically will keep choosing new abusive pattern types (an abusive job, an abusive spouse, etcetera) in a desperate effort to finally “win” love and security where love and security can never be found, because it is not in the nature of that entity to provide it.
People with PTSD will continue to do this until they realize separation, ideally a “no contact” policy (not loyalty to by-nature abusive entities) and rethinking personal trauma is what really sets people free and allows one to bond with other free innocents, which is necessary for life.
Moreover, since all human beings are equals and the words we use determine how we think, the military should reconsider referring to spouses and their children as dependents. For the indoctrinated soldier, his or her recovery often depends upon accepting effective treatment through the love, insistence and zero tolerance policies of loved ones, for this sort of thing is not going to come from Veterans Affairs.
War is complex, but life is simple. To live life healthily one must be willing to love and be loved.
It follows we must use proportionate force to help one another, by providing truth, physical defense when able, and caring for and being present for all human beings, when the other, be they a man or a woman, is suffering or has had an injustice imposed upon them.
But no one human disproportionately one gender, should be taught it is his or her job and responsibility to “save” all other human beings, as if man is God. And though human empathy and gender equality may be a liability on the battlefield, it is necessary for love and life.
This timeless lesson is taught by biology, but it has also been emphasized in the language and reflections of various religions throughout the centuries. I would think Christians (who still consititute a large proportion of our Armed Forces) would take both heed and comfort that a savior already died and rose again so that humans would choose love and life. One would think that all thinking people could agree that one can believe in a strong military defense, but no one should really be “pro war”.
G. K. Chesterton was emphasizing this when he spoke of “the true soldier (who) fights not because he hates what is in front of him, but because he loves what is behind him.”
Yet I have seen American civilians who have survived horrific traumas of their own, such as domestic violence and rape, or who suffered severe child abuse at the hands of their own parents or a clergy member (also abandoned or retraumatized by our own systems) get ridiculed and demoralized by combat vets for correctly comparing their resultant stress disorders, when they tried to reach out and share with these vets the information they need to recover, as I am attempting to do today. Fearmongers and stigma propagandists are very good at dividing good people, genders, families, and misdirecting attention away from the military and government entities abandoning our vets that society should be holding accountable.
I say it’s about time someone let the cat out of the bag, if not for our soldiers’ sake, for the sake of the country, those they went to war to defend, not harm, and for the sake of those they will inevitably, pre-emptively abandon, who are mostly innocent women and children, if everyone continues to keep looking the other way.
For how is military training just if we permanently brainwash all human vulnerability out of the man, and destroy his capacity for love, trust, human empathy and bonding?
How is military training just if it does not allow those who have tried to save and defend us – to be saved and defended by us – when they return home?
Wouldn’t that mean then, that terrorism has won?
I have written this piece for all combat vets but especially with men in mind because men have been lied to, and wrongly taught, not just by the military, that vulnerability and healthy expression of emotions (necessary for healing from PTSD) including the processing of just anger and grief, is weak, unmanly, socially unacceptable, unhealthy, or a sign that one lacks “decorum”.
The just military man still tends to say things like “How can I help others, if I don’t calmly put my own oxygen mask on first?” as if he is the savior of the world.
Then he swallows his pain and the lies that are slowly eroding his stomach, like magical bullets that will somehow suppress the truth from popping back up, or from being visibly written across his forehead.
Women tend to act instantaneously and with passion, but this doesn’t mean women don’t think and consider facts first, like those written on the backs of medicine bottles, noting side effects of which their husbands preferred to remain ignorant. Women have been pondering uncomfortable facts for thousands of years, knowing action and proportionate expression of emotion is not only allowable in real life, but necessary.
Women know men’s oxygen masks aren’t working right and are instead slowly exuding something more immobilizing and poisonous than mustard gas. This is because they themselves are commonly the very victims abandoned by men’s ineffective strategizies. And this is why the just woman, the good mother, will immediately, intuitively and automatically give of her own life force (not a man’s oxygen mask) breathing directly into the mouth of a dying child.
I say if helpless children are dying or their lives are being destroyed, it’s because they didn’t have parents or villagers of both genders willing to do the same.
It is not an inconsequential fact that men, particularly heterosexual alpha males, tend to seek counsel only from other men, regardless of credentials, rather than from intelligent and intuitive women that, because of this empathic nature, can help, as if it’s men’s job to protect women, despite women being their own equals, from hearing or bearing the truth. These men seem to think women, who by nature are life bearers and in that sense paradoxically both stronger, wiser and more vulnerable than men all at the same time, haven’t been noticing the destructive nature of men’s physically domineering (but ironically more impotent) strength all along.
And whether you like his politics or not, whether you liked his opponent or not, most mental health practitioners do not think it benign that the president of this country is a man who actually degraded a women publicly just for menstruating and got away with it. Our leader and current military commander-in-chief is a man who Harvard psychiatrists even publicly warned as narcissistic and potentially sociopathic, precisely because he has demonstrable contempt for the vulnerable and those who suffer, as if to feel and express human empathy or endure pain makes you weak, or someone who thinks with your emotions and not your head. Most significant in my opinion, is that Donald Trump’s election lent a dangerous social acceptance and perceived credibility to having an emotionally void, might makes right, bullying mentality.
He was actually cheered on, even though the war mentality, believing that only winning matters, is the hallmark sign of sociopathy.
Now we have volatile, reactionary, war-like polarization sweeping the nation. Nowhere is this reflected more clearly than in the fragmentation and division we see by way of social media. Brute expression and behavior is lauded rather than reasoned arguments based in critical thinking ability. The mental health of the nation and families are at risk moreso than ever recently before, and gender relations have been dangerously compromised.
But let me make this clear.
This piece is not written to blame everything on or scapegoat the president. Neither is it written to condemn our military leaders personally. This piece is not written to knock the brotherhood and bond often felt by those who fought side by side in battle.
Our military, whose interests and directives, although not always 100% humanitarian, has defended our nation and freed many foreign citizens from abusive, terrorist regimes.
Many of our young people join the military in fact, to find order and meaning in life, after suffering emotionally void or abusive childhoods. Internationally leading cognitive therapists and neuro-linguistic programming experts believe the most severe cases of combat-related PTSD are really CPTSD, with war being the secondary trauma to childhood neglect.
I write this piece only to remind vets that man’s systems including the military, the Department of Veterans Affairs, and all systems within the government, are self-referential. Systems exist so that systems work (read: stay in existence) not so that you and I stay in existence. Systems are not designed to save you from them. Therefore systems are the blue falcon or more crudely put, the buddy or cluster fuck. Systems see you as the expendable and they do not exist to serve the laws of love. We must hold them accountable if not for ourselves, for the sake of others whom they might harm.
Only humans can do this because only humans have hearts and souls.
And as human individuals, we have choices to make in life. We must take accountability for our actions – yes – but also our inaction, refusal to communicate with one another, inertia, emotional and voice suppression, the freeze response in PTSD, and self-imposed blindness that is putting a lid on an already boiling pot, causing us to dissociate, become less human, and making us part of the monster.
Are we going to serve love and life by facing, expressing and sharing our grief and pain (not dangerously suppressing it) and being there for our loved ones, ultimately finding joy?
Are we going to hold broken or ill designed systems accountable for what they are incorrectly doing to veterans and their families?
Are we going to serve war and death by trying to make ourselves as “invulnerable” as drones to everything and everyone around us except those disordered systems, while punishing the innocent for being healthily human, those who scream out when they are in pain, or laugh when they are happy?
Or are we going to punish people who have often survived equally traumatic, private wars of their own?
I say no, for the answer is clear, very clear, and should have been perceived and acknowledged the first time an American child commited suicide because Daddy came home from war and couldn’t love him anymore.
Healing, for the returning combat vet (like all civilians who have gone through a living hell) depends upon a willingness to detach from all abusive authority figures and relations, jobs and systems, and a willingness to let a healthy love, not a war mentality, save them. This holds true for their families as well, and receiving what is necessary to get on with life (knowledge of and access to correct cognitive tools) is the soldier’s and his or her family’s earned right.
Since systems, which by nature place human beings in double binds are abusive, victims (both military and civilian) must bond with each other, and stop identifying with and relating war systems to Almighty God.
For in war, vulnerability gets people killed.
But in life, only the vulnerable can help save the powerful – from themselves.
you sat on a fence waiting
watching your options fall,
like a chandelier come crashing down
from great heights
you sat on a fence
thinking you were protecting them
while you served as
a slave to the man
frozen in February,
you sold Sarah to the naysayers,
to the crooks,
and to the liars
for suffering too much
you mistook her for the enemy
because you mistook yourself
for the physician,
you honor the old woman instead
who shot you in the head
without making a sound,
while cutting your skin for a doll
and calling Sarah jealous
like a spell caster
some sell their own gifts
and lie about love
men think it is their job
to save the world
so they say semper fi
to their own image
and to men who don’t love them
women think it is their job
to save their own sons,
so they bury them alive
in basements of funeral homes
clatter, clatter against a fence post
I saw your body wrung,
a broken walking stick
with the body of a crustacean
only when the just man leaps
will he hear Sarah’s screams,
will he find that
it’s his own plane on fire
but she has placed
invisible nets waiting
only when the tide brings in
not dead bodies and debris
but the truth one has hushed
in self-bottled silence
will chains unravel
and pearls rise on the waves
for only those
who make themselves small
and trust in the power of love
on invisible waters