Veterans Aware: Whatever it takes; ropes course?

OPINION – I’m sure you’ve heard the cliché “If we don’t learn from history we are doomed to repeat it.” Time after time that has proven to be true and the case I wish to write about is that of the Vietnam War and the Iraq/Afghanistan War. Similarities, as I see them, are:

  • They were both “American” wars although some allies participated to an extent
  • There were philosophical and ideological foundations for both wars

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  • There was no clear end game other than beat the “enemy” into submission
  • There was no ground (i.e. terra firma) gained, no way to tell (other than carnage) who was winning, “honor” was used as an excuse for not ending American involvement
  • The American people grew to become opposed to continuing the wars, wanted a quick end to Americans being killed; in the former war they blamed the warriors and the government and in the latter war they blamed only the government

For those of us who fought in either of these wars the war didn’t end when we left the battlefield; in one way or another the war will be waged for the rest of our lives.

Killing people, seeing people killed, searching the dead for intelligence and finding family pictures, seeing the dead combatants of any side and seeing the human and physical carnage changes a person. Even “righteous wars” seem somehow “unrighteous.” Killing causes hate and hate can be a short track to killing and the carousel continues to go around …

For the last 46 years I have been waging the war-afterwar; learning to trust, to get close to people and to relax in a complicated and mostly hostile world.

For the last three-plus years as a psychotherapist working with combat veterans I’ve had the opportunity to support others’ transition from the battlefield to life after. Most of the problem is getting them into treatment.

A number of organizations have been founded and are operational in assisting veterans, both emotionally and physically disabled, in readjusting to life after combat deployment. The more successful of these organizations use physical challenge and adventure to reopen veteran trust, teamwork and unity. Sea kayaking, river running, skiing, ropes courses are some of the events these organizations sponsor for little or no cost to readjusting veterans. These ventures appeal to the “sandbox warriors” – those who fought in Iraq and Afghanistan; and they draw those veterans into proximity with treatment.

There is a movement afoot to build an Adventure Ropes Course in the Dixie National Forest that will be used to begin, forward and develop therapeutic inroads to support the readjustment to “life after” for veterans.

If you are interested in supporting the Adventure Ropes Course movement with time, supplies or money please write me at [email protected] and I will make your interest known. Time, supplies, and money are not being gathered now, this is a notice of intent to find out if there is sufficient public, corporate and private support to carry out this project. Let’s do “whatever it takes” to bring our warriors “home.”

Bruce C. Solomon is a readjustment counselor with the St. George Vet Center. Opinions stated in this column are his and may not be representative of St. George News.

Email: [email protected]

Twitter: @STGnews

Copyright St. George News, LLC, 2015, all rights reserved.

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