I'm a little conflicted here.

The Army is under great pressure to ensure the mental well being of its troops. Every time a soldier commits suicide, or otherwise succumbs to the great mental strains placed upon troops in combat, the Army suffers, both directly, and in a public relations sense. Accordingly, the Army took a look at what works and what doesn’t to help soldiers cope with the stress of combat. Not surprisingly, they found that those soldiers with a strong spiritual background coped best.

Multiple tours in Iraq and Afghanistan have taken a toll on soldiers: Witness the rise in suicides and other stress-related disorders. A few years ago, the Army noticed that some soldiers fared better than others, and it wondered: Why?

One reason, says Brig. Gen. Rhonda Cornum, is that people who are inclined toward spirituality seem to be more resilient.

“Researchers have found that spiritual people have decreased odds of attempting suicide, and that spiritual fitness has a positive impact on quality of life, on coping and on mental health,” says Cornum, who is director of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness.

Building on that foundation, the Army instituted a survey to get a feel for the spiritual strength of its soldiers. But some soldiers think the survey, and especially the recommendations the survey makes to soldiers and tools it offers them, crosses a line into proselytizing. And I’ll admit, it comes fairly close, even if I don’t think it reaches that point.

SGT Griffiths, mentioned in the article, strikes me as something of a whiner. But I am sympathetic to concerns that there are folks that would pressure troops to  participate in religion when they would otherwise choose not to.


5 thoughts on “I'm a little conflicted here.”

  1. Isn’t this what life is all about, how do we deal with conflict? I believe the answer has a great deal to do with your “total orientation”. A great deal of the answer for each one of those is based on the concept of responsibilities. We are responsible for our behavior, many people try to just, blow off the concept that we are responsible for our behavior. But, this is not just for the trooper on the ground, it goes right up the Chain of Command to the President of the United States and his Cabinet and his counselors. Absolutely nobody walks without the responsibilities given to him. Technically, there is no such thing as “plausible deniability”, this has been shown to us through the Watergate fiasco. The there is no statue limitations one much of this stuff.

    We as a Nation, need to start establishing guidelines for our leaders and our military. The was in interesting experiment done with children the community leaders decided to make the children’s playground much larger, so they took down the fence (Borders or limits for the children), you would think the children would make full use of the expanded playground. Bot, in fact, the children did not go even to the previously established line. So the leaders got together and put up a fence around the larger area. As soon as the kids so all this, they felt secure enough to go all the way and make full use of expanded ground.

    We as a Nation need to start doing some thinking. Can we continue what we’re doing right now? As I look at this, I see many complex questions that we as a nation must answer, we must work together and stop the nonsense. We can not continue in this mindset. When I was in the military, I saw the suicides or their consequences on the rest of the troops. It was not these men a lacked patriotism, their bodies and their spirits were just worn out. This was during the Viet Nam War. This was not just a military event event, from time to time you would see groups take their lives. These men were not cowards, they were just worn out.

    This brings us to do today, what are we going to do? The answers we are not going to like, but they may be viewing the ones we have. We may need to ask the question, “Are things really that important?” If we say yes, we should go bark and require a “Declaration of War”. Then everybody knows the taxes will go up and the whole posture of the nation would we focused on the war. There is a dirty word out there that we may even have to talk about, “The Draft”. If we start spending large amounts of money, track the cash! We should never never just send the Military to war.

  2. Thanks for your comments, Grumpy.

    Many of us wish we could do more for those who sense the hopelessness that leads to suicide. But some people simply make that choice on their own despite attempts of others to share the Good News and find themselves in the happy ending. Some of my own family members committed suicide even though many of us tried to offer help. Some people simply refuse. Core beliefs, mental growth, or spiritual health can’t be forced on anyone.

    But once we send soldiers in to the fray, it is our moral and ethical obligation to do what we can to offer a way to restore them after they return, to walk with them, and not abandon them.

  3. Cathy, Thank You, for getting into the heart parts of this problem. When I came home, I had friends, they were married with children. As soon as they came home, you could see the joy on their faces to see their families. But the thing we didn’t know was this, there was an ugly monster hiding in the minds of the men. If you will, it was almost stalking them, even the men themselves, didn’t know of the existence of this monster. It was this, at the time, nobody realized what was, is now called, “PTSD “. The strange thing is this, the men wore physically home, but their brains and emotions were still on the battlefield. Many times, the horror is this, their wives and children almost became like the enemy. Part of the problem was also the pride of the veteran, this stigma to ask for help. In the view of the recently discharged veteran, it appeared that he was less than the man or woman. It generally had a copy of common things with each of the Veterans. The person you noticed is the soldier was happy, he was going, very friendly. The thing that we did not realize was this, he had already made his plans to kill for himself. In his mind, everything was resolved. Now, he was just waiting for the right time and circumstance. Cathy, it took me many years to work out the things I’ve just written.. But at the time I left the service, my doctors did not expect me to live in the year 1969. As I came home, I saw guys that I knew in the military within one year’s time, more than a dozen had taken our lives, violently. Each of these cases, their families were the first ones to find them. It used the wife, the husband or even one of the children had given me a call. And in the these cases, the local police department have ruled them as suicides. Part of the problem is a recognition issue, what are those things if we are to look for? After a short time we began to realize what we were dealing with, we called the military and the VA, to let them know this is the beginning of things they best practices type things for just one area in which suicides were up. This gives you an idea how we dealt with it, but it does not mean it everywhere you go with it.

    1. Hang in there Grumpy.

      I was trained in PTSD, crisis intervention, conflict resolution, and had opportunity to use and improve these skills, but I’m no expert. PTSD can be like a time bomb. Opening up and helping to dismantle that bomb takes not only skill and care on the part of the care-givers, but also takes a willingness on the part of the soldier to re-experience and be vulnerable while trying to maintain hope for one’s future.

      It seems like you consider living past 1969 a miracle. You have a message of hope that you can share. And you are probably more of the expert on this than I. Maybe there’s still something out there for you to be doing to help these walking wounded to open up. You certainly have the passion for it. Blessings.

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