I have seen the face of war, because I was married to a young man in the military before, during, and after the attacks of 9/11. I watched and was a part of this war on terror that we are still in today, and I have felt the cold stare of a human who has been affected by post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). My story has a relatively happy ending – so many do not – and it is imperative that we understand where we are as a country so that we can establish where we are headed.
It does not matter if you believe our wars are right or wrong – the fact of the matter is that there are terrorists, foreign and domestic, that seek to erode our liberties and our economic power. They are doing a good job. Our troops, and the veterans who have pledged life and limb to protect this country – deserve our time and attention to the emotional wounds that are so often a part of who they are when they come back from seeing combat in other countries. Humans killing humans is un-natural, violent, and causes extreme emotional havoc – and it is our job – as members of the community and country that pays for these wars – to take care of these soldiers and try to help heal these wounds.
I lived in El Paso County for almost five years during my time in school and while I was the wife of a gunner on a tank stationed out of Fort Carson. There are multiple military bases in El Paso County, and the military is the bread and butter for many people living in Colorado. In 2009, there was a chain of murders that happened in Colorado Springs – and there was a story in the Gazette in part titled “The hell of war comes home”.
These soldiers who are trained to kill, oftentimes come back to our country with both physical and emotional wounds that can often take a toll on their families, their community, and their own lives. It is a process that is a part of having a military and engaging in war. Ideally, upon coming back these soldiers would have all of the services and time that they needed to heal – but this is not the case. There are people and organizations, however, stepping up to make this possible for these soldiers and veterans. And that is a very positive and proactive way to embrace the men and women who have given so much for our country.
I have been lucky enough to tour LifeQuest in Colorado Springs, and meet the founder of the organization, CW Conner. They have a great facility that invites in soldiers returning from war with physical or emotional wounds (PTSD and/or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI)) – and challenges them to take actions to heal. It is a holistic approach – working on the mind, the body, and even the need for adrenalin and music – taking all of the parts of the chemical make-up of those who engage in combat. It works – it is working – and lives are being changed and saved.
One of our greatest threats as a country is to not recognize that we must strengthen and empower our communities by loving our neighbors and interacting with the people that make our political economy possible. Businesses, government, non-profits, the military, all industries and all individuals are a part of what makes our freedom and lives possible. Forgetting who we are – that we are all a part of the human element that is here on this planet for one reason or another – is one of our greatest threats. Our country’s moral compass is arguably broken – and one of the biggest fights we have is ignoring the human element in each of us. Recognize that we are our power, and take some time to help someone who needs it – together we win.