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Old 02-19-2005, 11:56 AM
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Suicide....PTSD....WAR

I received this response to an e-mail about a young Sgt. that did several tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and came home and took his own life. This is an area we need to talk about....the lady that wrote has asked for a response...


Here is her letter:


Hello Dana,
This is a sad story, and I'm afraid there will be many more.

Unfortunately, we can't "predict" suicide although we have guidlines about possible risk factors. There is a vast body of research on suicide and we still don't know how to prevent it. We have people who are psychiatric inpatients who still attempt suicide. We do everything we can to ensure patient's safety.

We need to learn much more about possible ways of reaching those who feel death is preferable to the suffering they experience in life.

I personally think that spirituality can play a major role.

Believing that suicide is against God's wishes and may lead to eternal damnation is one belief that helps some people endure their suffering. This soldier's guilt was too much for him to bear. I wonder if he had any spiritual support?

I don't think soldiers are adequately prepared for the realities of combat, nor are they adequately treated prior to returning to civilian life. I'm reading two books about warrior codes. Some civilizations allowed warriors to run off the battlefield without fear of pursuit. Not much is said about the "average" warrior. Warfare involves the ability to "dehumanize" the enemy. Don't most warriors feel enraged when their comrades are killed, especially close friends?

Dana, please reply to this:

I'm wondering if the nature of warfare today contributes to PTSD. Correct me if I'm wrong, but prior to the advent of explosives, weren't wounds less gruesome? For example, knives, axes, and swords made puncture wounds and relatively cleaner albeit fatal wounds. With explosives people are ripped apart, which is terrifying. I'm getting personal here, but I can't stand to watch gruesome horror movies (blood and guts, etc.) or similar war movies.
I think that people go to war with an idealized view of killing and death that is profoundly shattered.
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Old 02-20-2005, 02:25 PM
Pointman69
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

I agree whole heartedly "that people go to war with an idealized view of killing and death that is profoundly shattered." I've heard, and said it myself, that nothing in our society prepared us for what we faced in Vietnam. We played war as kids. Basic and AIT seemed to focus on killing the enemy.

As a draftee, and with limited training, I discovered real, final, ugly death on my first morning in the jungle. The other kid who came to the company the same day I did was put on point and walked right up to a bunker without realizing it. As his body was drug by, I didn't know what to do - I stammerd out, "you'll be OK Woods."

He had a bullet hole in his chest and his forehead. I wasn't ready for the finality of it. I was embarrased at how inappropriate my comment was. Within a week I was filled with terror, walking point, having no idea what I was doing. How could anything back home prepare you for that?

I wounder if more training would have helped. Did young Marines or Rangers go through a similar shock of reality?

When I came home, everone back in the World seemed so shallow, so concerned about things that didn't even register on my radar. The ideals of my youth, the person I was before I left for Vietnam, was gone and I still have nighmares about getting lost and not finding my way back home, plus I forget what I was supposed to be doing.

I had tramendous survivors guilt for the first few years. That was slowly replaced with feelings that nothing would ever change, even though I was a Christain. Somehow, belief in God worked for others, but didn't provide hope in the future for me. I was dragging around too much stuff that I couldn't get rid of. There were too many questions that I couldn't answer. I couldn't speak a full sentence about Vietnam so I it became easy to bury, then deny that Vietnam bothered me at all.

When everything crashed a few years ago - then I was ready to try anything God wanted. I didn't have anything else to loose (I tried my best and lost it all). That was the point that all I had left to believe was that somehow, God would take care of eveything - in His way, not mine. Reaching that point where I had to give up control on my life to God was the point that He could start changing things in me.

It's a frustrating, scarry, helpless and even hopeless place to be, but God can turn it for good. The good continues today, and there's hope.
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Old 02-21-2005, 08:51 AM
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

After thinking a while about the brutality of modern warfare, I agree it's shocking, but it's also less personnal. I can't imagine the stress of facing thousands of the enemy with only swards, shields and spears. Eyeball to eyeball, kill or be killed would be more terrifying to me than Vietnam.

I shot it out with a VC in a spider hole three feet in front of me. He shot the new point man. I was walking second to help teach him what to look for. We hit the ground on a small trail in the middle of grass and brush so thick that all I could see were flashes of green tracers coming up through the grass and and passing just over my head. All he had to do was lay his AK on the ground and rotate it down the trail. He would have killed or wounded the first five or six of us. I witnessed that happening before.

Adrendaline redlined as I emptied magazines trying to keep him huntched down in his hole and hit his rifle or hands or arms - anything to make him stop shooting. I was terrified but I never saw his face.

There were other incidents were I did look into faces and eyes of VC before I killed them, but it wasn't hand to hand. God chose to bless me beyond anything I could imagine. I don't know that the horror of modern warfare is the issue. Maybe the mind can only handle so much, no matter what the situation, before parts of it just shut down to survive.

I think the continuous fear and never feeling safe did as much damage as the seperate incidents of stark terror. That may be a contributing factor in why there seems to be so many nstances of PTSD from Vietnam. The kids in Iraq may have similar issues - not knowing who the enemy is, where or when he will hit, and there's no "safe" place for many of our kids.
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Old 02-25-2005, 01:49 PM
Pointman69
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

"We need to learn much more about the possible ways of reaching those who feel death is preferable to the suffering they experience in life."

You are absolutely correct. There are ways to reach those who have come to the end of themselves and find nothing there to hang onto. Religion can certainly open doors to life that's larger than our pain.

Introduce them to God's reality, His view of life. His reality is so much bigger than our limited vision allows. He is not bound by time and sees everything He is bringing and allowing in our future. He wants the very best for us and His promises will never go away. He will not deny Himself. He has done everything it takes to connect with Him. Jesus let go of all His rightness and stole our punishment so we can once more walk before God in peace.

There's nothing left for us to do but accept it. We don't have to understand, we don't have to change using our strength, He even gives us the faith we require to believe. The only thing we can screw up is contine trying to do things "our way." He tells us outright not to lean on our understanding. He gives us His spirit which is our connection to His bigger reality that we can't see. Religion is a re-kindling and growing relationship to the one who created us to live "rightly"with Him in the first place.

In our understanding, it's so easy to project our past into the future. Seeing nothing in our lives that could possibly change that picture, we give up hope and accept depression, anger and dispare as something we must deserve for all the bad things we've done. The sad part is, it's true. Left to ourselves, overcome by weaknesses and not knowing what's right (because we're no longer connected to Him who is all that's right), we can't change. Life is full of misery. There has to be a change in perspective. That's where connecting to a larger reality, where we can trust that good really is overcomming evil, produces hope for the future and makes life on earth something to look forward to.

It doen't happen in one big paradime shift. We see Him change us a little at a time but It's OK because we do see change and there is the hope that what He has started in us, He will continue until the day His son returns.

There are probably as many different views and variations of God as there are people, and that's OK, as long as we don't forget that life is not centered around us, it's about Him and what He has accomplished knowing everthing about us. He doesn't want us to be miserable and depressed. He has provided a way for us to return to that unconditional, loving relationship He made us for.

This is how I see "religion" helping those of us, myself inculded, who have fallen into dispare from the natural limitations of our perspective.
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Old 02-26-2005, 09:49 AM
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Cross Glow Lg Clr 2 Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

I'm back and I totally agree. Take it from someone who made that very bad decission on 2/3/05. However, God sent a guardian angel to me in the form of a very close friend Bill, who is also a Chaplin. He arrived bringing me two books on dealing with PTSD that were written by a DR. Bobby Smith. Smith was a LA State Trooper who was shot in the face with a 12ga in 1986. He is now the leading person in the Law Enforcement community that deals with PTSD.



Anyway, Bill came by just when I needed him most. I spent 15 days in the hospital and am now on my way to recovery! Thanks to the Lord, my saviour!
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Old 02-27-2005, 02:00 AM
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

Stickthrower, welcome back home.
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Old 02-27-2005, 07:22 AM
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

Stickthrower - So glad you're back. You are truely a witness of God's intervention in your life. He can be counted on to continue that work.
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Old 02-27-2005, 12:53 PM
Don Dodson Don Dodson is offline
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Cross Glow Sm Clr Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

I agree with what I have been reading here. For me, the saddest part of suicide is imagining the sense of hopelessness and crushing loneliness. That is why I support even secular suicide help lines, but especially Christian based ones like New Hope in Garden Grove (714.639.4673). I'll have to check their website since I recall they have 24/7 helpers ready to respond to e-mail, also.

My uncle killed himself in the early 1930's. He was an Resident Medical Doctor (MD) and contracted T.B, before antibiotics. So the family story goes, he couldn't see how his life was going to continue and I guess his proposed marriage was off, too. I saw the emotional toll it took on my father. I have e-mailed fellow veterans who are at the end of their ropes, too. What seems to me to be crucial is be able to access to God through the fog of despair.

I also think we must develop a network for each other when we are feeling OK, that will be there when we are overshadowed with evil intentions. Everyone of us needs a buddy in whom we can confide and who will drag us back behind the wire (e.g. safety) when we're hit. Maybe it is like getting somekind of vaccine: we need periodic doses of God's love and assurances, so we can fight off the 'infection' of suicide when the devil attacks.

When everything seems to be lost, and there is no point in going on, remember what Christ Himself told the Apostle John: "The people I love, I call to account - prod and correct and guide so that they'll live at their best. Up on your feet, then! About face! Run after God!" (Revelations 3:19, The Message). We need to "innoculate" those going to war with the faith that God means everything in their lives for His purposes, even despair and depression.

WELCOME HOME!

Don "Oboeman" Dodson
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Old 03-17-2005, 10:44 AM
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

I am not proud to say it, but I have two suicide attempts under my belt. Obviousely I am here for a reason, because the only reason I live and breath is because God has made it so. Going to combat didn't seem like a big deal at the time. Even pulling the trigger was just numbing for awhile. Then I came home and had time to sit on the front steps and think about it. I know what I did on the field of battle was my job, and was what was expected, I also know the Lord has forgiven me for the life I have taken. The problem for me is the constant nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and my own inability to forgive myself. I constantly pray for guidance and healing, but when it doesn't come, I start to question my faith and when that happens, I once again find myself all alone and feeling worthless. I know God loves me, and I know there are alot of Brothers out there that would help, but for some reason, if your not paying close attention, that feeling of impending doom sneaks back in there and spanks that hieny
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Old 03-17-2005, 03:40 PM
Shawn Powell
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Cross Glow Lg Clr 2 Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

What's up, baby-

"Bornagainvet" to "Abn Rgr"... THAT'S why I didn't make the connection! I remembered Boise, though....

Know what you mean about intrusive thoughts... how is everything going?

Shawn.
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Old 03-18-2005, 05:45 AM
Don Dodson Don Dodson is offline
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

Abn Ranger:

Do you write down your thoughts? My counselors call it "journalling." I thought it was stupid, until I tried it about 7 years ago. When I am spiraling downward, thankfully, my wife asks, "Have you been journaling?" I get back to it for a while and it helps. As powerful as prayer is, and I do believe it is our 'clear channel' to and from God, I think journalling helps the brain process war by writing down what is bothering us. Make sure it is a secure format or locked up so that you can be really honest with yourself. I go back sometimes and read my fears and see how God has brought people into my life or a new circumstance that blesses me (like Point Man!) and helps reduce the PTSD symptoms.

Forgiving ourselves, for example, does seem to be hard. I wonder if that is good old father-of-lies the devil, our adversary and enemy, trying to keep us from accepting God's unconditional love and forgiveness. Early Christians struggled with this and the Apostle Paul wrote to his flock encouraging them to cast off old ways and thinking. False messages like, "God can't love you!" or "What I've done is too awful for me to stand before a Holy God and explain my actions." BS! Christ paid it all and is offering us His pardon, our "boarding pass" to Heaven. And when we are called to account for our lives, He will step before God and say, "Dad, this is one of my squad. He had to do some crappy stuff and he has tortured himself ever since. I love him, and I wrap him in my arms and have already paid the price for his freedom and full access to Your presence."

Brother, we are praying for you and your journey. Remember what the Apostle John wrote late in his life found in 1 John 45:4 "You, dear children, are from God and have overcome them [the spirits that do not acknowledge Jesus, e.g. from the antichrist], because the one who is in you is greater than the one who is in the world." (NIV)

WELCOME HOME!

Don "Oboeman"Dodson
DodsonOboeVet@NorthernTrail.net
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Old 03-18-2005, 10:20 AM
Pointman69
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

Quote:
Originally Posted by Abn_Rgr
The problem for me is the constant nightmares, intrusive thoughts, and my own inability to forgive myself. I constantly pray for guidance and healing, but when it doesn't come, I start to question my faith and when that happens, I once again find myself all alone and feeling worthless. I know God loves me, and I know there are alot of Brothers out there that would help, but for some reason, if your not paying close attention, that feeling of impending doom sneaks back in there and spanks that hieny
You've pinpointed the battle we all face. If anyone has a quick easy answer, now's the time to share. If I had one, I could be counting millions paid by desperate vets yerning for peace.

So far, I've found the answer is a contining process. Many of us have gone through enough failure that we want to believe and are willing to try trusting God for direction and healing. Our old habits and misunderstandings are always present in our minds. Stress causes us to fall back on our understanding (because it's familier and quick). But, our understanding of things is what got us into trouble in the first place.

The process, as I see it after accepting Christ, involves learning to see God's unending faithfullness in giving grace and mercy. Deciding that He really loves us in a way that's beyond our limited knowledge of love. Trusting that He really has made us new creations (even though we don't deserve it). Resolving the schizophrenia between our old nature and God's new creation. After that, it's all down hill to heaven.

Trouble is, all of these concepts must be uncovered by God's spirit in us. Our understanding fights, kicking and screeming all the way. It doesn't want to die and be replaced by total trust in another being. But, God wins.

That's all I can give you for now. Keeping each other updated on what God is doing in us helps identify the direction He wants us to go. Nightmares, intrusive thoughts and not forgiving ourselves are all delt with in the process He has prepared for you. He sees it already done (He's not constrained by time). We can't see into the future, so we must trust the one who can - that's faith. He's given each of us the measure of faith needed to accomplish what He's doing in our lives.
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Old 03-18-2005, 01:15 PM
Pointman69
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

Ranger - sometimes it helps to speak directly or write an e-mail. It would be a privilage to hear your story. dwright32162@msn.com (541) 862-2040
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Old 03-18-2005, 06:34 PM
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Dog Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

ABN Ranger,

I have one suicide attempt under my belt and it scared me! The shear violence and anger I displayed were frightening to my close friends and family who had never seen me lose my self control like that!

Thank God for sending my guardian angel to me when I needed it most, as well as sending a combat vet Deputy who is a very close friend of mine. Had anyone else shown up-Lord knows I would have probably killed someone besides just myself! Brother that is from the heart!!!

I understand about nightmares & intrusive thoughts. I have the nightmares (which are getting further apart-Thank God), and as far as the intrusive thoughts, I have those all the time!

My way of dealing with the thoughts is to grab my Bible and read some. Usually I go to where ever it falls open and just read. You would be surprised just how many times God has opened the book to a scripture that deals with my specific issue at that time.

I also have a Study Bible "THE BIBLE PROMISE BOOK". It has just about everything covered so you can reference scripture that deals with your specific problem or concern. I have found that a great help.

I also keep reminding myself that the intrusive thoughts are Satan's way of trying to Unseat God from your heart. After all, Satan is the Undisputed King of Liars! I refuse to let Satan regain ground that I have fought for to give to the Lord. I will not let Satan take back over control of my life!


Also if possible find a good support person close by that can either come by or you can call when you have issues! Just having someone who understands and will listen without judement is a great help!

I also second Pointman69 about direct e-mail stickthrower@elltel.net and I will send you my phone number!
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Old 03-19-2005, 02:20 PM
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

Question:

I've heard about the Veterans Bible, but I can't find any in the book stores. Can someone please direct my search.
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Old 03-19-2005, 08:49 PM
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

Quote:
Originally Posted by Trooper
Question:

I've heard about the Veterans Bible, but I can't find any in the book stores. Can someone please direct my search.
Jack, send me your address and I will mail you one ....FREE....its not available in bookstores.

Dana
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Old 03-29-2005, 09:01 AM
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

I hope i'm not posting this in the wrong spot. For quite sometime now, I have not been able to work, not just because of PTSD. I also have Chronic Fatigue Syndrome and Advance Degenerative Disk Disorder. It has of course made life a financial bear. With only 50% service connected, it doesn't go very far and I would be lying if I said I haven't gone to bed hungry more than once. Long story short, I have spent alot of time on my face praying for guidance and asking the Lord to only provide what is due to me. I have hang-ups about drawing disability, but cannot survive without it. How is that for confused? Yesterday I was informed Social Security was aproved first time, and the C&P board is looking into raising my % due to inability to work. Thank you Jesus. Money has never been a big deal to me but I have to admit I feel a sense of freedom and even a little security. I don't think there is anything wrong with that? I have prayed long and hard about it and I didn't seem to be able to accomplish anything to do with finances prior to prayer, and still there is a little guilt hiding in the corner. I know prayer is key, but will I ever be able to shake the guilt? Guilt in spite of prayer is part of what often makes me question my faith. I know the Lord has forgiven me, why do I have such a hard time feeling it?
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Old 03-29-2005, 04:06 PM
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

I have a hard time believing God has forgiven me because I know I don't deserve it. My mind can't comprehend the fact that His forgivness is a free gift because He loves me that much. In my mind, I don't love myself or anyone else like that - I have nothing to compare His nature to that I understand.

That's where He's beginning to show me, "don't lean on your understanding." My mind will never get it, there's nothing I can taste, touch, feel, see or hear that is anywhere close to His reality. So God, how do I believe?

The only other sensor I have is the spirit, and He gave me one when I accepted Christ. That's my connection with God's reality! I have to believe through the spirit in something that I can't see. That happens with faith, another gift from God. Unlike nonbelievers, we see spiritually what God has done, we can "see" His continued faithfullness, we can "see" His trustworthyness, we can "see" His love is different and higher from that of the world.

I've been impressed the last few days that I might be calling God a lier when I continue to reserve my "right" to make my own judgements based on the circumstances I currently see - as opposed to trusting the One who sees without time and will use all things for our good, not because we deserve it, but because He promised to. He can not lie, everthing He says comes into being - that's how the world. and we were created. He can't deny Himself, He wouldn't exist, nothing He does can be a lie.

It may not be exactly that way but it seems consistant with what little I do see of Him. Anyway, I'm finding out that He is worth trusting, not for a little, but for everything.

I may never "understand" why Jesus let go of all the crys of His flesh to live, and let His innocent blood be spilled so I can be forgiven. But in my spirit, I know it had to be that way, I'd never be able to make up for my sins in my understanding. Without being connected (by His spirit) to the only one who is right - I would just continue stumbling through life missing the mark.

Sorry for the rather long answer to a simple question.
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Old 03-29-2005, 06:12 PM
Dean Black
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Cross Glow Lg Clr 2 Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

Abn Rgr, You are in the right group feeling as you do. Anyone who has proven themselves as doers and hard chargers have a lot of needless guilt build up when we become disabled. We start to feel useless and feel we can't pull our share of the load. That's what the Devil wants you to think.You have done more than your share. When we step up and volunteer for Service and Combat we have paid our dues. But the Devil makes us think that we are useless and as long as he can do it, he has control over us. We have to pray and ask God to free us from discouragement, despair, and depression. Ask Him to set you free from worry and anxiety. If we trust Him to set us free He will do it. 1 Cor 13:13 Faith, Hope, and Love are the three great spiritual gifts of God. God is our Rock, our firm Foundation; He is our Mighty Fortress. I feel that trust each time I visit this forum and theres a lot of love here too. God bles you Ranger, I am praying for you.
Dean
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Old 03-30-2005, 06:14 AM
Don Dodson Don Dodson is offline
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Re: Suicide....PTSD....WAR

AMEN! Good words. If it helps, I look at my VA benefits as deferred compensation. When I was in Vietnam I figured out my pay was about 25 cents per hour, and that was as an E-5 with Hostile Fire Pay. My younger brother was a Teamster working at the San Diego Zoo. He grossed more money during the summer of 1970 then I did! So I don't feel guilty, any more. Uncle Sam has a system of paying back-pay, called VA.

WELCOME HOME!

Don "Oboeman" Dodson
Vietnam 9 Sep 1969 - 9 Sep 1970
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