Wednesday, September 4, 2013

Step One De-tour Combat PTSD Survivor's Guide

Make sure you have a piece of paper and a pen. Don't use a keyboard or texting code. It is important that you actually make a connection between what you think and what you write for answers. This is for your eyes only so be honest with your answers.


It is a good place to begin thinking about why you wanted to join the military instead of doing something else. When you consider that less than 1% of the American population serve today and only 7% are veterans, it is a unique decision to make.

There had to have been a strong reason to decide this life. To decide a career that was not only dangerous but also required many sacrifices for you and your family.

Think about why you made the choice and write it down on the paper. Don't try to sell it. No one will see it but you. Don't try to use the patriotic or duty response because there are a lot of careers you could have picked. Why this one?

If you were honest it is a safe bet for me to guess there was nothing selfish or simple about your answer. If you wrote anything that was along the lines of slogans take a look at the answer again and keep looking at it until you can honestly say, that is all there was to it.

People go into all types of jobs for all sorts of reasons. Most of the time they are just trying to get a pay check to live off of while they search for the job they really want to do. Everyone has a dream job but not everyone wants one that will put their lives on the line or put them into contact with devastating outcomes.

A firefighter knows they are trying to save lives and property but they know there will be times when it is not possible to save every life. They know there are things they will see but what keeps them risking their lives are the times when they did save someone.

A cop knows they will stop crimes but they also know they may have to stop a criminal with a bullet. They do it because of the next time they can stop a crime from happening and pray to God they make an arrest instead of a mistake. They have to decide in less than a second what to do. Sometimes they are wrong but they can't take the bullet back into the gun. They also know they can't have a do-over and shoot instead of guessing wrong while the criminal got of a shot at another cop.

If you wrote about why you decided to join the military over anything else, make sure you really understand the answer. If you don't, then nothing else here will make sense.

What did you think about during training?

You showed up among a bunch of strangers you knew you would have to depend on. The trainers (different titles depending on which branch you went into) had to break you down in order to get rid of the way you already thought about everything. You were no longer independent. They decided what you ate, what you wore, when you went to sleep, woke up and what you would put your body through. They also handed you weapons and taught you how to use them.

You changed because of all of this. Write down what was different about you after training.

What were your strengths? Weaknesses? Who were you buddies and why did you like them? Who didn't you like and why not?

If you were among the troops discharged under "personality disorder" you need to be reminded that you not only had to take a physical fitness test, you had to pass a mental health evaluation as well. Either the military caused your problems or their test failed to find the "illness" they claimed was already there.

Tomorrow we'll start with Deployment but for now, think about the reasons you joined and about the changes you went through.

Remember this is only way for you to see things differently. To remember things you may have forgotten. It is not a test and you will be the only one to see the answers.

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