As a physician, I know that physical wounds are hard enough to repair. A damaged soul can be equally crippling, the effects lifelong. Many mentally distressed veterans feel their military service wounded their souls beyond repair, and they despair over ever being whole again.
Damaged souls can be repaired.
I’m not saying it will be easy, although it can be far easier than a person might at first expect. And I’m not making any promises. What I am saying is that with a little sincerity and hard work you can be whole again, and I can show you how to get there.
First, let me tell you a little about myself. I grew up a few blocks away from San Francisco’s infamous Haight-Ashbury district. As a teenager in the seventies, I was pinned down on the front lines between war-protesting hippies and traumatized Vietnam veterans returning home to an unsympathetic nation. Many veterans never recovered from the emotional trauma they suffered in the Far East. Some sought redemption for atrocities they committed or failed to deter. Others struggled to come to grips with the mind-bending inhumanity they experienced.
By the time Desert Storm rolled around I was in my seventh year of Air Force reserve duty. I sat out the war in the comfort of my medical training program, after which I served eight years of full time active duty divided between two domestic bases (Kirtland and Eglin) and one overseas base (Lakenheath). I never saw combat, but I lived its consequences through the effect war had on those around me. By the time I left the service in 1999, I was convinced the greatest burden most soldiers bear is the burden of guilt.
When I was a teenager, the words returning Vietnam War veterans needed to hear were, “Welcome home.” But the welcome was a lie. A soldier can leave the war behind, but the battlefield of memories can haunt them for life. Even more affecting is the memory of crimes committed outside of battle, where the frail excuses people use to justify their sins are vain and transparent. If you were there, you know what I’m talking about: Crimes committed in the boil-over of battle stress, or as a result of peer pressure, ignorance, blind prejudice, unthinking patriotism (ex: the only good XXX is a dead XXX), blood lust, “to the victor go the spoils” tyranny, sheer stupidity and, in the worst case, psychopathic inclination.
Here's the problem: The military claims authority to kill enemy combatants and innocent civilians as collateral damage if the cause is just and the action necessary. But not all soldiers accept military justifications, even less so as they mature to develop more pragmatic, jaundiced views of political decision-making. “What if the cause was not just?” they ask themselves. “What if the action was not necessary? And on what authority do the decision-makers justify their nearly genocidal decisions?” We know soldiers commit atrocities in the fervor of battle. We also know they sometimes commit crimes outside of battle, boiling over from the insanity of unrelenting stress. When they return to the peace, security and comfort of their home country, they realize they did horrific things they never would have believed themselves capable of doing under normal circumstances. I could make a list of the most common offenses, but you’re here because you know what your list contains. And at this moment, the only list that matters to you is your list, and I’m guessing you’re seeking redemption for every item on it.
Good news: Atonement can be easier than you expect. However, to achieve it, you might have to open your mind to a new way of thinking. That concept should not take you by surprise. The very fact that you are here, on this website, suggests that “conventional” wisdom hasn’t worked for you. So if you’re ready to open your heart and mind to a new path of discovery, in hope of learning the secret of redemption, click here.