JOHN MINCHILLO / AP
Former Marine Capt. Timothy Kudo walks among civilians carrying a burden of guilt most Americans don’t want to share. A veteran of the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan, Kudo thinks of himself as a killer. “I can’t forgive myself … and the people who can forgive me are dead,” he says.
In the book, Soul Repair, by Rita Nakashima Brock and Gabriella Lettina (click the book cover to the right of this posting), you can begin to understand the depth and breath of moral injury among veterans who see themselves as “monsters” and “killers” when they return home to life after war. Combat veterans are trained to kill and to be insensitive to killing while in combat…a killing machine, they say. They are supported by intense training in the military culture and are able to rationalize killing on the battle field, but not when they come home. Deep guilt emerges most often quietly and invisibly but can look like rage and anger showing symptoms of PTSD as time passes. These men and women live with emotional pain and guilt 24/7 and need our help in more ways than providing prescription medications and once a week one on one therapy sessions.
Spouses and loved ones, especially children are affected by being constantly exposed as care givers who most often do not have the background in mental health treatments and spiritual healing to make a difference immediately. Families like my own can be damaged for a life time by the secondary and even primary exposure to the trauma connected while living with a parent who suffers from moral injury and PTSD. It can be a very scary and traumatic experience growing up in a terribly toxic family culture.
It took me until age 64 to find out that I wasn’t such a bad guy after all… In researching and writing my book, it became clear that countless others in my generation had been damaged by war and in life after war. The journey of healing starts when awareness kicks in. Those who love you and those near you as friends and neighbors need to become aware. Most of us go about our daily lives and never notice a combat veteran in pain or even think about it. But we do pay attention and wonder what we could have done to help when we hear about the suicide of a veteran in our community. But then it is too late… I can’t tell you how many folks in my own small rural community who don’t have a clue nor give this a second thought until a suicide occurs and gets in the news. But it is back to business as usual because most do not get it or know what to do. People do care, but the caring does not translate into action.
The best way to become aware is to begin reading and listening. Try to understand and become an expert on the subjects of moral injury and PTSD. Get engaged in your local community to help veterans when they return home to life after war. Help me in this effort by sharing my blog postings with family and friends. You might save a life along the way…
Reconciliation: A Son’s Story
(click the book cover to left of this posting)