In March 2005, PBS aired A SOLDIERS HEART where a physician on that show reported that every soldier in Iraq is forever emotionally changed after serving in combat.
I have proved this in my work as a heart centered counselor for 38 years and working with combat veterans with PTSD for the past four years.
I’m proud of being a Navy veteran and serving five years on active duty as well as two additional years as a weekend warrior. I believed in what I was doing at that time and I served in the lull between the Korean conflict and Vietnam War 1957 - 1964. Although I was trained to kill with my sidewinder and Sparrow missiles ~ I never had to fire them in anger although I most certainly would have fired if directed.
Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder, or PTSD, is a psychiatric disorder that can occur following the experience or witnessing of life-threatening events such as military combat, natural disasters, terrorist incidents, serious accidents, or violent personal assaults like rape. People who suffer from PTSD often relive the experience through nightmares and flashbacks, have difficulty sleeping, and feel detached or estranged, and these symptoms can be severe enough and last long enough to significantly impair the person's daily life. But, I would argue, people can suffer these very same symptoms when they are seemingly separated from love.
As such, Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is actually a Heart disorder where psychic pain, fear and guilt often override their deepest joy and ability to love.
To many, suicide becomes the only choice, as Dr Gary Kohls wrote ~ It is often said that 200,000 Vietnam vets have committed suicide since they came home from the war, although, with 30% of the huge US homeless population being nameless and homeless Vietnam veterans, the precise number is unknown and actually may be larger!
In my experience as a practicing therapist ~ A person will take their own life only if they feel that the dark loveless tunnel of aloneness they exist in is their ONLY CHOICE. My role, as a therapist, is to help bring them to another life enhancing choice ~ and I maintain that cannot be accomplished without awakening their hearts through gratefulness and love. Only then will they begin to see through clearer eyes and realize that they indeed have ANOTHER CHOICE.
I call it a Unified Field of love and soul consciousness that exists not only beyond time and space but also deepest within us all ~ and most certainly beneath our deepest fears and pain.
When we take someone's life in combat ~ we destroy a part of our own heart in the process and we may never psychically recover from this incident on a soul level.
The same things happens when we consciously hurt someone we love or consciously withhold love from someone we love. We, in essence, are saying NO to our heart in the process and we can suffer significant psychic damage on a soul level.
But when we kill someone ~ our heart becomes hardened with guilt and it is almost impossible to accept or give love carrying this burden ~ which many of our Vietnam, Iraq and Afghanistan combat veterans now bear.
When we close our heart we enter a dark prison cell where our own bars of fear and unworthiness keep us from fully experiencing ourselves as well as others. Each of us can free ourselves from that self-imposed lock down of the heart and the magic key is gratitude ~ beginning with the people who have always been there for us and eventually ourselves.
In my work, as a therapist, with clients with PTSD or PTHD ~ I concentrate, with great success, on opening their hearts ~ initially through gratefulness to the people and friends who have been there for them and finally to giving and accepting love themselves. They eventually forgive themselves in the process of opening their hearts. This self-healing can happen rapidly as it did in the eleven Healing the Wounded Heart Band of Brothers 8 week workshops I have facilitated over the past three years ~ with over a 60% average improvement in all symptoms of PTSD and in particular the ability to love and be loved as well as a greatly increased sense of self-worth and gratefulness. See my article ~ http://www.veteranstoday.com/2013/02/12/miracle-of-heart-centered-counseling-is-self-healing/
I was never in combat but I was trained to kill on command and would have fired my lethal missiles at a Chinese MIG if ordered to ~ probably without hesitation.
When I returned I had lost much of my innocence, my heart had hardened to some degree and my loved ones noted it.
Eventually my heart opened ~ but it may have been much more difficult if I had taken someone's life.
Perhaps we have reached the point in our evolution where we will begin to see all men as our brothers and realize that nonviolence must be a universal spiritual practice ~ if we are to further evolve.
Martin Luther King Jr said it best;
Nonviolence means avoiding not only external physical violence but also internal violence of the spirit . You not only refuse to shoot a man, but you refuse to hate him .
I am now increasingly concentrating on healing these wounded members of our torn society ~ so please do not hesitate to call or email me if you know of someone who not only needs this help but sincerely wants to find a heart centered choice of behavior and escape the dark prison of fear and guilt based ego consciousness where we often punish the people closest to us by withholding love.
ONLY LOVE UNITES AND HEALS