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“… War is War is War, and once it invades a soul, it doesn’t pay much attention … .” This quote was written today - as in January 13, 2013 - by a PTSD therapist working with combat veterans in the Veteran's Administration system. He was writing about the recent suicide of a psychiatrist who had served in Iraq in 2006. The therapist made the point that it is not a matter of understanding the trauma that helps but rather of making the honest emotional connection to the person who suffers.
It reminds me of something written nearly 200 years ago in an old book in my office. The writer speaks of a Revolutionary soldier who's wife and several small children struggled to keep alive with little money. They often had water mixed with a little molasses for supper. They asked their mother why she put a happy face on things whenever their father came home. Her response: "The soldier's lot is harshest of all; I do not want to do anything to weaken his hand or soften his heart."
The trauma of war has many faces. I posted the therapist's blog onto my Facebook page. I added to the good doctor's assessment that there are many entry points for this invasion to the soul. This invasion is personal and its effect needs compassionate care. His response: "So many people make therapy so complicated, when at its core, it’s simply unflinching humanity, done one hour at a time, person to person. ... We’re all injured treaters. The wounded can indeed give life-saving help to other wounded."
We are all wounded, he says, and we can help. So a friend from Israel commented: "This is so sad. As citizens, how can we help these brave soldiers overcome the trauma? How can we re-program them to know that they are valued, loved and that life is good? Are there any programs to which I can volunteer to assist in?" Her question is the point.
Try to picture the poor old Revolutionary soldier Benson Lossing describes: "Isaac Rice ... . Like scores of those who fought our battles for freedom, and lived the allotted term of human life, he is left in his evening twilight to depend upon the cold friendship of the world for sustenance, and to feel the practical ingratitude of a people reveling in the enjoyment which his privations in early manhood contributed to secure."
Isaac Rice was 85 in the early 1800s when Lossing found him guarding the ruins of an Army post in New York - the same post he had served in as a young man in the 1700s. The "feeble old soldier" lived on handouts from from visitors to the site. "I am alone in the world," he told Lossing, "Poor and friendless; none for me to care for, and none to care for me. father, mother, brothers, sisters, wife, and children have all passed away, and the busy world has forgotten me."
Isaac Rice, according to Lossing, then "brushed away a tear with his hard and shriveled hand, and, with a more cheerful tone, talked of his future prospects."
That is SoldierHeart. And it matches today's top pick.
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