A Christian and Military Perspective on PTSD
Let’s face it, liberals currently own the discussion about Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Veterans are encouraged to turn in claims of “mental illness” so as to collect disability payments. Media-based public sympathy can easily be subverted.
So-called “support groups” are popping up everywhere now, all run by progressives with a decided anti-war bent that hopes to bring down the military. Welfare-like payouts for imagined “stress” might become another entitlement. Even cooks and clerks who are veterans sense the lucrative gravy train, not to mention the professors, lawyers, and bureaucrats who run various social “help” programs. Genuine PTSD casualties, however, are the real victims as resources and attention go elsewhere.
Since a conservative challenge to PTSD fakery is only slowly mobilizing, Christians might not see the support within their own ranks. In his Army Reserve article “Spiritual Resiliency: Helping Troops Recover from Combat,” Col. Donald W. Holdridge, Command Chaplain, 200th Military Police Command, makes the link between Christianity, PTSD, and the military:
There is much discussion today about PTSD. Yet there needs to be a greater dialogue about PTSG (Post-Traumatic Stress Growth!). When seen through a biblical lens, nothing God allows into His children’s lives is an accident. It is not all good to be sure, but difficulties can be used to bring about some greater (complex) good in the person being developed (Like Joseph in Genesis 37-50; esp. 50:20), and in the persons witnessing that development. Roses grow in rose gardens, but human beings grow through hardship, trials and adversity. Even Jesus grew this way. The Father made the Son (in His humanity) perfect, complete and mature through suffering (Heb.2:10).
Vets need to be asking the right questions. What positive thing can I take away from my wartime service? What good advice can I pass on to others? How can I use my experiences to make this world a better place? How can I help other vets? Vets also need to recognize the positive effects that wartime service has produced. “Serving your country in a war effort can leave you with a sense of honor… that’s hard to come by in most civilian occupations. Working closely with others during life-threatening war situations helps create a bond that is nearly impossible to forge in other environments.
Some veterans may even have surprised themselves with the things they were able to accomplish under difficult circumstances in Iraq or Afghanistan. For others, recalling how they performed their duties while under fire gives them courage to face difficult situations and challenges at home.
In order to turn PTSD or PTS into PTSG, the service member needs to follow the ten “Rs” of David and keep a long-range perspective. One day, none of this chaos will exist. “There will be no more death or mourning or crying or pain, for the old order of things has passed away” (Rev.21:4). The Apostle Paul could say that all the things he had suffered (See 2 Cor.11:23-29) were “light and momentary” because they were producing an eternal weight of glory far beyond all comparison (2 Cor.4:17).
LTC Birdwell, who was burned on over 60% of his body from the jet fuel that gushed from the plane that hit the Pentagon on 911, underwent dozens of surgeries and months of painful recovery. He modeled the long-range perspective when he said that “this may be two or three years of suffering, but in Christ’s view it’s just a nanosecond of eternity. So I can get through this.”