To those brave men and women of honor, having offered up their souls in the defense of freedom, having sacrificed their lives for the innocent, I salute you — brethren all. To those still caught in the darkness of war, whose lives are paralyzed by the horrors of battle, walking without direction in the atrocities of the Shadow World, tormented by the phantoms of the fallen, I offer hope and strength.
Hope to surmount the obstacles, those traumas locked in our memories, preventing us from a clear vision of our own strength as Warriors. Strength, which is the Light we possess and the nobility of the human spirit within us, waiting to express itself in our lives; to remove forever the crippling pressure of guilt and self-condemnation.
How then is the freedom we fought for to be enjoyed in our own lives? How do we adapt to a society in which we feel as though we’ve become an outcast, forgotten and ignored?
As an infant taking its first breath, so too we were reborn in the blood and flames of battle – forged into a new person, a being of light and strength, focused in Honor and instilled with a sense of determination – Death before Dishonor being our Creed.
All we need are the tools to remind us of our strength. And the first thing we must understand is that we are perfectly “Normal”– for what we’ve been through. We are not who we were before going to war and we never will be. Our new Normal is being hyper vigilant. For us, hating is Normal. Learning how to trust again is Normal. Feeling alone is Normal and learning to love again (or learning to feel any emotions) is Normal.
The second step in this triage is controlling the “Beast” which is the Primal Side of the mind: where base emotions such as hate and fear reside. The Beast within us is the actual side of our nature that did the killing, it reveled in the blood and chaos of war. It also brought us home alive.
The Beast is necessary on the battlefield, but cannot be allowed to act freely in society. It must be tamed. Think of the Beast as a Bengal Tiger, that you’ve chained to a tree. You are the tree. When you become Master you may remove the chain and it walks by your side for the rest of your life. But you can never turn your back on the Beast or it will kill again and kill you in the process.
These two steps, learning that you have a new normal, different from what it was before you went to war and that you now have to come to grips with your “Beast” nature, are the beginning of your new life. I’m living proof that learning to tame the Beast works and works well. In my next submission, I’ll explain how to get the Beast under control.
Most Respectfully, Sgt. Brandi, United States Marine Corps
Sergeant Brandi, United States Marine Corps, 5th Force Recon, served as Combat Rifleman in Vietnam between 1966-67. He has a 100% rating for PTSD and is a Combat Trauma Consultant, working with the Department of Defense, with 11 years in this service to Active Military, Veterans, and Families. Sgt. B. is the author of three books on Combat Stress for military and civilians: The Warrior’s Guide to Insanity, The Warrior’s Guide to Worlds at War, and The Warrior’s Guide to the Walo Chronicles. He has two more books underway. As a national speaker, he has addressed over 7,000 Combat Troops returning from Iraq and Afghanistan at numerous military bases and at VA and DOD conferences and provided outreach to over a quarter of a million people via television, cable networks, radio, magazines, and newspapers. Sgt. B. is currently residing in San Diego, California where he works with Marines at Camp Pendleton. He has completed a Bachelor of Sciences at Ohio State University and has a Masters in Psychology pending. Visit Sgt. Brandi online.