It’s that hollow numbness, the sense that you are already dead, the complete lack of desire to go on, the craving to be gone, to be done here. The feeling that you are nothing more than an empty husk blown about by gusts of wind. There’s nothing left of you.

You’re not who you used to be. You look in the mirror and don’t even recognize the vacant soul staring back at you. Nothing — and everything — gets to you.

Your body is here; but you’re not here.

You lost the one thing that meant everything. The ability to be who you are. Because being a warrior who loved and breathed combat, who misses it like your heart has been torn from you, being that person wasn’t just a job. It was — it is — who you are.

And to not be able to be who you really are is absolutely…. devastating.

It’s soul crushing.

It’s the reason death feels like a viable option.

Why were you put on this earth to find the one thing that makes you feel like your truest self, your deepest purpose, your reason for being here….and have that taken away from you?

That’s what your life is now, right?

There’s a reason warriors prefer to die in battle.

Because of this. The “what comes after” service ends. When your body gives out and you’re not allowed to be who you know you were born to be.

That void feels like you’ve already died.

No one talks about this part of it. We mourn those who take their lives, we cry out against their decision, we bleed inside at their loss……………….and, we envy them.

Hard words. But true. There’s a part of you that feels it every time a brother goes home early. You just can’t tell anyone that.

The reality is part of you has died

A warrior’s life after military service ends isn’t like civilian retirement. When what you do is who you are — and anyone called into a service field, who is “born” to be what they do knows this — the end of it feels like death.

It is a death. The you that you knew yourself to be dies. The pain of it and the silence that shrouds it keeps it hidden.

Warriors who can’t go back to war die inside. Quiet, aching, pervasive deaths. The longer you go on without a renewed purpose, the more of you dies. The emptiness, the sense that your soul has been cut out of you….it’s real. You’re not alone.

And you’re not fucked up for feeling it.

Civilians are elated when your service ends because it means you’re out of harms’ way. It means you survived. It means they can exhale. Finally. They expect you to find something else now to fill your time. Some of the perceptive ones will understand that this isn’t about finding a new job – this is about mourning the loss of your identity and… finding a new one. (A new job doesn’t give you a new identity — this is why it can be so hard to stick with a job after you get out.)

A warrior’s purpose is to serve the life-death-life cycle

Identity comes from purpose. It comes from your sense of who you are and why you are here — in the bigger picture of lifetimes on earth.

A soul is born into a lifetime with a purpose. Being a warrior feels like it was your purpose. But being a warrior is the package for your purpose. The purpose lies deeper inside.

What was your purpose?

To defend? To protect? To destroy evil? To rescue? To save? To keep your brothers safe? To liberate?

Service itself?

You feel empty because you’ve lost your known purpose and meaning. It was all very clear for you before and now it’s not.

The question is: can you take who you are and do something new with it? Can you identity what your soul purpose is and hold onto THAT, and find a way to live that now?

I can tell you this: a warrior will ONLY re-find purpose by finding a way to continue to be of service to life on earth. You’re not made to be self-only-serving. It’s not in your soul DNA to be on this earth without carrying out a mission that matters to humanity, to history.

You were born into this world to make a difference, to take risks, to change the status quo, to expose and eradicate evil, to uproot and open life to new possibilities, new change.

Yes, war destroys; absolutely. But it also creates. With the destruction of what was, comes the opportunity for newness. We follow a life-death-life cycle. It’s natural law.

Being of service to this life-death-life cycle is who you are and you need to honor that.

It’s true that you’re never going to stop missing combat. You’re never going to feel as whole as you felt you were then. Some things cannot be replaced or replicated. You know that in your soul.

But you survived combat. The gods didn’t take you.

You were saved and your purpose on this earth is NOT done.

I know this is hard. I know this tears at your heart. I know you are so close to choosing death because you can’t feel anything right now. But that’s an illusion. Feelings can be changed.

Make the hardest choice you will ever make

You are still here.

Your soul is still on this earth. So is your body. Ending your life now may seem like the only option, but is it?

You were called to service. Service is still your purpose.

Who can you serve? Who can you impact today? How can you take the strength that has been built into you and help someone else find theirs?

Can you lead someone to find their own courage?

Can you see that if you help one, it’s the same as helping a thousand?

No, it’s not combat. But you survived combat so you would have the wisdom you need to serve in a new way. What if THIS time in your life is what it was all for??

You are a warrior. You have to fight this one. You have to choose life. We need you.

It’s the hardest choice you’re going to make.

Only you can make it.

Your heart was made to expand into newness. You were created to be able to adapt and overcome. Emptiness can be filled. Numbness can thaw. Pain can ease. Sadness can soften. Purpose can be rediscovered. What seems impossible to you right now, is possible.

You are needed here. By those in your life now, and by those destined to meet you.

Be here to show up for them.

Choose life. For me, for your brothers, for that one soul out there who is going to interact with you and because of your wisdom, your insight, your encouragement, your example of courage is going to change their story…..history takes a different turn when someone changes their story.

Change yours, my warrior.

Change yours.

I stand with you. You can do this.

155 thoughts on “When You Can’t Be a Warrior Anymore…Is There a Reason to Go On?

  1. The level of peace one finds after losing a part of oneself — physical or in any other way — depends on how deeply you surrender to your new, altered state of identity. Acceptance is what creates peace and a starting point for building a future based on what is. The struggles presented by the conditions of the change don’t go away, and “overcoming” is often only found by once again surrendering to acceptance – looking at what you cannot change, accepting that — and then focusing on what you CAN change, which is usually one’s mindset, perspective and beliefs.

  2. I have often wondered if there is a difference between veterans who deal with amputations and those who deal with PTSD. On the one hand you are missing a limb or limbs but it strikes me that climbing a mountain or running a marathon and overcoming that issue must be very liberating. I do not confuse that with easy or fun. I am certain it is better to have all your original parts but there must be a sense of overcoming. With PTSD it is very different. In my experience facing down PTSD, and it is a bit different for all of us, is that constantly looking over your shoulder for the shady guy who has been following you to show up in the crowd again.

  3. We need you all- Thank you for your amazing, courageous examples of the sort of nobility this world knows nothing about-my prayer is for you to know the true Warrior Savior who alone understands your pain, loneliness and sacrifice, who ever lives to intercede for you to His Father and ours, the One who sent Him into battle and raised Him back to life again.

  4. Very well said! I’m going to print this out and when that thought enters my mind, I’ll have a hard copy to read!! Thank you

  5. Holy fuck bro, this spoke on a spiritual, emotional level like never before… art depicts life and your poetry has done this… maintain the rage bro

  6. The clearest understanding for me and what my boy faces that I’ve ever read. Thank you for your transparency. God bless you, warrior.

  7. Warriors come in all forms and in all ages. Many Men, and women are warriors everyday they wake up. In their own way even children can be warriors. Instead of charging and enemy position with loaded weapons we now charge and face down the obstacles in our own lives and even helping the lives of others in the process. The fight never ends. You don’t have to be in uniform to engage an enemy. Semper Fi

  8. Thank you for sharing this… THIS is incredibly beautiful and hope-filled. Such love and such light…. thank you for reminding us that it’s always in us……

  9. This my post on this from FB

    The wind blowing you from here to there over the years and all the booze to help with the pain. Divorced 3 times and can’t hold a job, but you keep trying and the wind keeps blowing you from here to there with feelings you can no longer trust. Then it seems a light that comes out of nowhere and lands on you. Yes, for the first time in years you can feel…..LOVE and she becomes your Wife and you give her the only thing you have left inside, that you did not know was still there. It’s hidden deep inside you and time did a good job keeping it there. Her light has open the door of darkness, you feel trust and love, in that empty husk. It’s been years since you felt it, with wind blowing you from here to there………I now have a purpose, to love and protect her forever……Our bodies grow older, time slips by to fast, and forever only lasts 27+ years, as her light went out. Yes the pain is heavy, it has always been and the darkness has come back. Yet I find she left me a lot of her light and love inside me, to get me through the days and nights ahead. So I will never quit, I will never give up!!!! And you should to. You never know when that light that comes out of nowhere will land on you…….To all my Brothers and Sister Warriors, My god bless you…………OldDoorGunner, The Nam 69/70

  10. You captured this to perfection. You were able to state what I’ve tried to explain to others. Finding purpose had been elusive…but I will stay I the fight. Thank you so very much.
    -E

  11. I was medically retired in 2010. Everyday I have looked for where I belong. But sadly many jobs and several relationships that i mess up later i am still adrift still searching still lost.

  12. I wrote it, Todd. You are right, the first step is setting an intention that you WILL find a new purpose and it is a journey…think of it more like a spiral, where you return to the same territory but if you keep walking the path, you spiral upward into newness. I’d be happy to connect with you via email at brittareque@gmail.com or on FB, if you wish. Don’t give up. – Britta

  13. Many firefighters, police officers and medics go through the same thing. While not military combat, civilian first responder combat can be a different kind of nasty and still screw with your head. If you end up leaving your career earlier than anticipated due to illness or injury, it makes it much worse especially if were elbows deep in doing your job the right way. Very few private sector jobs can use the skills, training and discipline that military and paramilitary brings to the table. But.. they are out there. Keep digging and looking to serve. Remember that family and friends close to you who did not actively serve still had skin in the game. Cut them a little slack. They really do have your best interests at heart. Peace!

  14. I don’t know who wrote this but this is my life, I no longer cancer because my arms and legs were takin in Afghanistan. I was the leader of 12 man and I was damn good at it, the story really hits home and at times I feel that way but then at times I don’t at times I feel like I’m doing right but then I still feel like I’m doing wrong one day I’ll get it and I’m working towards it but that’s the first step is working towards it

  15. This article literally reached inside of my head and said everything I feel. So lost and can’t explain the emptyness

  16. You are not alone in how you feel, Alain. I’m grateful you are giving help a chance. Please reach out by email at brittareque@gmail.com or on Facebook, if you’d like to talk privately.

  17. holy crap Do you know me? for a while there I was sure someone was attempting to reach out to me. The emptiness, feelling like an empty shell being here physically but your mind is elsewhere…. this is me now after 20 yrs being a warrior I had to change trade, I have tried to adapt and overcome but the smell of carbon exaling the chamber the rush of being out there full throttle and helping people that can’t help themselves. I will not get it from my new life now. The adrenaline is gone I just want to get lost in the bush living in a small cabine hunting to eat and be by my self away from that fake noise, fake life that all the people around me live. I know they are not to blame, I know I am the one whoès changed, but I just can’t play my part in that movie. I am tired to act as everything is great when I feel like shit. But yeah I will survive I have seek help and I am giving it a chance. Sorry for the spelling I am francophone and right now I don’t give a shit.

  18. Thank you so much for putting into words what so many of us feel. It was a very tough, dark road but I now serve God and I thank him each day for the privilege of making a difference in my community.

  19. Good article. Tough truth. I found comfort and support from the VA as well as visits to random retirements homes speaking with any old timer WW2 vets. They saw, did and endured longer than vets these days so I found them to be of great knowledge, service and support plus not one was unhappy to talk. If these Vets know they can help another it gives them renewed purpose and adds life to their remaining years. Give it a whirl!

  20. I recommend directing one’s focus to family, friends, church, gym … give back to those who were there during his/her Warrior times.

  21. Choose life and God and Jesus will give you a new life and reason to live. DON’T GIVE UP!

  22. I am so grateful that you have found a new direction, Pat. Thank you for sharing your hope here.

  23. Thank you, Karl, for sharing this. I am so grateful that you have a found a path.

  24. I had spent several years feeling lost in the ocean. I felt like I was aimlessly and endless treading water. I had no direction to go and I could not see land in any direction. It wasn’t until I found my new purpose that a finally saw land in the distance. I’m still in the ocean but now I have a direction to swim.

  25. After getting out of the Army (Infantry) I battled with PTSD. My wife had enough and divoced me. I lost everything and started on the downward spiral. One evening I was in a bar drinking myself stupid when a man, a brother, approached me. He noticed my Combat Vet hat. He talked to me as if he had known me my whole life. He understood me and my battle with myself. He helped me get a job working at a VA Hospital. I am just a housekeeper (janitor) but now I have the feeling that in some small way I am helping fellow Vets. And that small feeling is what keeps me going. I still have a rocky road to travel, but little by little I am making it.
    So if any of you go to a VA clinic or hospital, be sure to thank the guy mopping the floor and emptying the trash. I guarantee that you will make his day and five him a reason to keep fighting on and going forward.

  26. I am sorry this is happening to your husband and you. Very valid points. Thank you for sharing this.

  27. For my husband, he’s being released from his combat flight medic unit with 2 years left on his contract, just because he hit the 20 years mark. We’ve also been fighting for years to get the classes he needs to retire at an E7 instead of E5, but we’re blocked the entire way by no budget for Natl. Guardspeople (none for Resrvea before that0, stickler jackass people in charge who refused to let him take 1 or both classes while overseas despite there being openings in classes twice, etc. The bullshit of forcing soldiers and their families to pay for their housing, food, supplies, etc. during drill and even more so when deployed every 4th year for 365 days, then cutting them off without letting them advance or even finish their time makes me so incredibly angry. My husband didn’t even get to finish his last flight time. Now he just gets shuffled to some IRR for two years, wasting all the training and seniority he’s accrued to spend his last two years recruiting or doing nothing with the risk of being deployed oversees without even the poor amount of training monthly drills & 2+ weeks a year. It’s incredibly demoralizing and insulting to routinely oust -soldiers at the 20 year mark. It’s not like being in leither the reserves or Natl. Guard even pays for the expenses we accrue each month. Hotels, travel, food, etc. cost much more than the $50-$100 he earns for a drill weekend! So much needs to change. All the money goes to contractors and big shots, with nothing left to trickle down to the men & women who routinely serve for years-decades. No wonder our veterans are so depressed. They get kicked out rather than even let to retire with dignity.

  28. Jared, I am so grateful it resonated so deeply with you. Please know you are not alone in how you feel. And you can reach me directly anytime at brittareque@gmail.com if you wish.

  29. I have never in my life read exactly how my heart and soul feels like. I was medically discharged back in 2008 from the US Army and since then have had my battles with addiction, PTSD and suicidal thoughts as well as a shabby attempt. It’s literally a daily struggle to continue on, or CHARLIE MIKE, as my dad likes to tell me. I’ve lost several of my friends from the Army to suicide, and with each one not only the pain from their leaving comes, but, the jealousy of them moving on hits hard too. This article hits the nail on the head! Thank you

  30. Thank you, Stephen!! You can find more articles here on the blog and I continue to post them as I am led to write.

  31. I am grateful you are still here, John. And I am sorry that you have had to carry that guilt and rage alone for so long. Time does not seem to matter to these wounds, but it also means there is hope for healing. Not erasure, but healing. Please email me at brittareque@gmail.com if I can be of support to you.

  32. You can fill the hole (almost) with civil service. Or community service. The rest is a bitch. There is always that guilt for living. There is always that rage just below the skin. To quote Archie Bunker stifle it. I’ve lasted 46 years doing that and it is still hard. Wish you luck!

  33. You are so welcome, Randy. It is a journey and a transition , but if your heart chooses to keep seeking life, newness, ways to be of service…you will walk into what feels like a new-found (or anciently remembered) purpose.

  34. Excellent description of what it feels like when your military career is cut short by medical injuries. I have a very good full time job and it still feels like I’m trying to find my new place in life. Thank you for this article.

  35. You have a valid point, Joseph. It starts with the individual though to realize and believe that they have purpose. It’s not just about finding a new job, the purpose exists within regardless of the exact job.

  36. The article implies that all it takes is an individual effort of will. Another part of the equation is all the institutional obstacles placed in the way of the returning veteran. To name a few. Human resources directors who believe all soldiers are psycho PTSD cases, per the Hollywood myth. Byzantine state credentialing laws that prevent or delay the transition from a military job where you performed at a high level to a civilian job in a right to work state where you can be fired for any reason
    Almost incomprehensible military education benefits rules. And in the future, the side effects of the truncated retirement system. Not to mention the dwindling numbers of veterans in elected office, with some appreciation of how the system can be changed for the better.

  37. Very well said, Rob, and thank YOU for speaking up for all those who have felt this, military or not. I am grateful it resonates beyond the original scope and that you are still here to share this message of hope with thousands. Blessings to you!!!

  38. Thanks.

    I know this was meant for the obvious, but I am sure I am not the only one who was in a different carreer that was cut short where it is all you knew, you loved it, were great at it and it just ended. The word resonate with more people than you know. EVERY WORD applied to my situation.

    There are legions on middle aged people who have been down sized or replaced by technology who never saw it coming. You were a person who considered yourself a success and suddenly you find yourself saying, “What’s next, I only know “X”.” As an aside, there is a similar reason so many people pass away within a year of retirement or loosing a spouse after a 30+ year marriage.

    My “Loss” happened after about 30 years in a profession where I kicked ass. I was “the man” to many of my friends and collegues. I made relatively big money which had become much more of a score card for how I defined my success – more than just a financial entity. Ot was gone. The tap shut off.

    Technology and the financial crisis of 2008 relatively quickly took a job that I thought I may actually never retire from and upended my life. Naturally, I also was going through a divorce during this period which was the one-two punch that eliminated all my assets.

    Not being able to get out of bed suddenly became the norm. Moving from job to job trying to find something that, if not well paying, at least lit a fire of passion. Thoughts of giving up came every single day even though I have a partner that supported me financially an emotionally through all of it. I had to be reminded every day that I had a young child that would miss me. But the lack of purpose and having to rely on others for the first time since leaving home was crushing me.

    It has been about 8 years since that hit and I am not going to lie and say it is all blue sky and unicorns now and that I love my job but I am still here. I still occasionally have trouble getting out of bed more than is probably healthy and occasionally have dark thoughts but, the same persistance that once gave me success is healping me press on. On to see my beautiful daughter grow up and enjoy a great relationship with my partner. I have gotten used to living lower and, more important, to live with smaller victories. Hobbies have replaced some of what I had in my career for passion.

    All to say, it gets easier. And the longer you hang on, the more chance that fire can turn from a smouldering little ember, back into what feels like a raging fire again.

  39. Thank you, Michelle. So grateful it spoke to you and that you feel a new sense of purpose.

  40. Hands down the most articulate description of everything I feel and fight for now…everyday is like Groundhog Day, but I truly belive my new sense of purpose, my mission is worth it, I just can’t wait for the day my own realization catches and true fulfillment catches up to me. Thank you for sharing this, brother.

  41. Thank you so much for sharing this! I am so grateful you are still here, and one of the reasons you are still here is to say these words today and be read by thousands of warriors who need the hope of your story. Blessings to you and much love and respect.

  42. I shared this article yesterday, and I see some of my friends have shared it as well. I’ve re-read this article a few times now. These words are what I was searching for. 3 years ago was ready to give up, because of the emptiness that I felt and could not find anything to fill that vacuum. I had been a highly trained Special Operations Aircrew( MH-53 Helicopter Gunner) I flew a lot of combat missions. I was awarded the USAF Distinguished Flying Cross with Valor. I spent my last assignment as an instructor at the MH-53 school house training future gunners how to operate and how to stay alive and keep their crew alive while doing some crazy shit in the war zone. After I retired I worked as a contractor here in ABQ, Iraq, Clovis, and Afghanistan. The last gig in Afghanistan I flew missions everyday on my 90 day rotations collecting imagery to keep our Special Operations ground guy’s alive. That was a pretty big hole of emptiness to fill. I finally surrendered and spent 6 weeks in a residential rehab. That kept me alive. I found my soul again. Music, playing music, and building guitars. That hole can not be filled. But, you can go around it and find yourself again!

    So I write this to the suffering, my Brothers and Sisters, find you again, it is worth it!

  43. I am so grateful to you and your husband, Donna…for your presence and love and understanding…as well as service. Blessings to you!!

  44. Such a profound article…so very true.. my husband who was a veteran of the Vietnam war thank God had family to come home to to talk with but so many did not.. and even today.. it is a very real problem.. We try (my husband and I) try to do all we can for the Veterans.. our hearts go out but we all as Americans have to do more and stand by these brave men and women to help them and support them..

  45. Soldier, this lady knows you and you should hold onto her as hard as you can. She understands who you are, where you are and why you are what you are. Let her strength bring you back into the light. There is an end to the darkness you are serving today.

    God bless you
    David
    USA 1965-1967

  46. I am so happy and grateful to hear this, Allison!! Thank you for sharing this with me. Let me (or him) know that I’m here by email brittareque@gmail.com, if he ever wants to reach out privately or on FB. Blessings to you!

  47. This will be life changing for many wounded warriors. The young warrior who posted this to me, has been affected in a soulful, heart-rending way! Praise! Only a few months ago, he would have ignored it, as trash….if he read it at all. Instead, he read it, posted it so his Brothers could read it and was deeply encouraged by the content! 💖 This young man has struggled for YEARS, with his own feelings of being “misplaced “. Like a jigsaw puzzle piece, that just doesn’t FIT anywhere…..and never would again. His reaction to this decriptive post, gives all those who support and love him renewed hope! 😍 Thank you more than you know!

  48. Eddie, I am sending you so much love and am deeply moved by what you have shared here. Yes, of course you may carve the words…these words are FOR YOU. Please know I am here anytime you need someone to listen or remind you that it matters that you’re still here.

  49. Kristin, I hope your husband will find that, too. It makes so much sense that an org like Team Rubicon would provide that much needed sense of purpose and support.

  50. Very well said, Isolde. Thank you for saying this and for your neverending love and support of your dear son. He is blessed to have you!

  51. You are so welcome, Donna. Thank YOU for your strength and courage in loving him.

  52. Thank you, Shane. I am deeply grateful that it resonates with you and with so many….there is healing power in feeling deeply understood. Reach out at anytime via brittareque@gmail.com or on FB.

  53. I am a Veteran of nearly 70 months in Combat, six tours in five different theaters. I was wounded multiple times, my mind and soul more so than my body. I’ve had suicidal thoughts every day since getting out, I’ve sat with loaded guns trying to find reasons to live. I’ve attempted three times, to include an attempted ‘suicide by cop.’ I’ve experienced the loss of 31 friends, Brothers (and one Sister) – In – Arms. I want you to know that I’ve read many, many writings on being a Warrior; being a Sheepdog among the sheep watching for the Wolves. I have NEVER read anything more true than this. It brought my wife to tears, it brought me to tears. I am a master woodworker and a wood carver. I would like your permission to carve this into wood and hang it where I can read it everyday.

    Thank you so very, very much. This has given me and through me, my family, my grandsons new hope that I CAN make it; I WILL make it!

    Eddie
    USMC/US Army Retired

  54. My husband and brother are both combat Veterans, I watch my husband struggle with this on a daily basis and its heartbreaking. My brother struggled when he got out too until he found Team Rubicon. Now my brother has his sense of purpose back. He’s with veterans like himself constantly, helping communities during natural disasters and afterwards helping with cleanup efforts. I wish my husband could volunteer with their organization because I see how much they have helped my brother, but we live so far from the closest office that it just isn’t possible. One day I hope to convince my hubby to move closer to a Team Rubicon location. Until then, we will continue looking for something to give him a sense of camaraderie and purpose.

  55. Anyone married, related to or being a true friend of a combat veteran needs to read this. And so do civilian employers. Way to often people simply do not understand what our Veterans have to deal with, especially after actual combat. Ignorance is no excuse nowadays. It is so very true that our Veterans need to discover not necessarily a new purpose but channel their original purpose into a new path. This is easier said than done and they need all the genuine support of those around and dear to them. I know that first hand from watching my son after his combat tours in Iraq and Afghanistan and pray he will find himself once again. Yet, he will never be the same as before all the combat he was engaged in. There is this gnawing feeling deep inside of me that says innocence was lost on the battlefields in way too many young Marines.

  56. Great article!! Help me to gain a better understanding as a military wife.
    Thank you!!!

  57. This is powerful and deep. Truly inspiring and eye opening. Because for a lot of us this hit the nail on the head and feels like us. It was relatable for me from start to finish. Thank you.

  58. This is the first artical that I have read, that hit it right on the head. I’m a Marine Corps combat vet of multiple tours and I have been through book after book that haven’t even come close to this short artical. Thank you so much for writing this. I’ll be honest by the time I got done reading this my hands were shaking and I was full on crying because something finally clicked like someone took out what was in my brain and put it in front of my face for me to see clearly.

  59. Damn. Hits the mark exactly. Nice work…and just like the rest have said, it is exactly what is going on in my nugget at the moment. I know what it is…I know why it’s affecting me…it is just so damn hard to find that purpose on the outside. And I need that…otherwise I am just a fraction of what I used to be. Hear’s to finding that purpose ladies and gents. May we never exit stage left by our own two feet. Good luck and God Bless.

  60. Thank you for the perspective. This story was how I felt. I lived for my Brothers and Sisters in my group, my boat team. Civilians will never understand the closeness we felt for each other. The word Brother and Sister is not taken lightly in my circle of warriors. I love them all and your article, I will hope, should bring back those on the brink. I came back (I will never admit I was in that bad place) I have a purpose and a renewed love for life.
    Thank You 😇

  61. Excellent explanation. I am a combat vet and a LEO and give presentations to Vet groups and train new LEO’s on PTS.

  62. Thank you, Phillip. I am so glad Love has held you close and kept you here.

  63. So grateful for you, Wayne. Please keep in touch and let me know when your site is active.

  64. Thank you. I will look that book up as I have a lot of LEOs who face similar issues and there’s not much out there addressing it.

  65. Having fought with my own deamons for over 10 yrs. This all rings true! But it’s just not the battle within that hurts, but the pain caused to the ones we love! More should be done by helping the wives and family’s of servicemen/women that dont know what to do or say. Because it can take years to show symptoms of PTDS, and then like myself I never new what was wrong with me. I wanted to end it so many times, but it was my love for my family that keeps me fighting strong!

  66. I’m with you. Served 20. Deployed 3 times saw nothing out “there”. Saw death stateside but hey I was an Air Force cop. Afterward I became a combat trauma therapist at the Vet Center. Treated combat vets for 8 years. Made many an acquaintance but few friends. Took care of Vets from all branches all the way back to survivors of the Battle of the Bulge to Afghanistan. I write on suicide too. If ever I can be of service; call on me.

    Regards,
    Wayne

    My site is not active yet…

  67. My wife had me read “Emotional Survival for Law Enforcement’ back in 2006. (she is alpha female type, officer at the time and a psych major). I didn’t think it was pertinent since I was military and in special operations. I was wrong in hindsight. A lot of what is surfacing in the midst of veteran suicide is lack of a new identity or s sense of failure. This book extensively covered having more than your LE identity and the importance of it. I feel it is just as important for vets to realize their worth outside the military by re-inventing themselves and in some way continue to serve. I think you connected those dots very well in this article. Thanks,

  68. You are so welcome, Matt. Blessings to you and your daughter. Reach out anytime if I can be of support.

  69. Wow. Thank you for this. It is so hard to put in to words how this piece reaches me. I have felt like this for many years and then 4 years ago I welcomed my daughter into this world. She’s my purpose. She’s saved my life and doesn’t even know it that she’s a real hero.

  70. Very well done. I know I’ve struggled with many of these things in the past, and sometimes still do. You are here still to enjoy the all the things you’ve fought and suffered for, it’s just hard to see sometimes. Maybe it never goes away, but it’s so important to keep going, get help and know you are not alone. Thank you such an amazing piece.

  71. Give Jesus a chance. Forget the bad press you have heard about him. It’s fake. He’ll give you that sense of purpose, identity and belonging that you are missing. He is involved in a battle and enlists warriors who are devoted to him. And he is the ultimate winner! You can’t lose!

  72. What a beautiful piece, the true warrior needs to hear this and heed it, but it’s easier said than done. Thank you this is a giant step forward

  73. Thank you, Howard. Please reach out to me anytime via email at brittareque@gmail.com, if I can be of more support to you. You are not alone in how you are feeling and time doesn’t seem to matter in this.

  74. Thank you for this, it’s the greatest service to veterans to read pieces like this right now. Semper Fi

  75. Absolutely relate to this. It took years after leaving active duty to find something to cling to for purpose. Still after 10 years separated from the Corps, I feel that sense of emptiness not fulfilling the destiny I thought was laid out for me.

  76. One of the best reads I have had in awhile. When my battle was over, I took up another battle. That saved me. I went to school and became a therapist. Hopefully I will be able to work with my brothers and sisters who are still lost. Jim Clark, MSW

  77. You are so welcome, and absolutely! LEOs deal with much of the same trauma, and on top of it, the negative sentiment of the public. Please reach out by email at brittareque@gmail.com, if I can be of further support to you. I have many LEOs who connect with me. And thank YOU for being the guardians of our society.

  78. This also hits my heart as a retired city Police Officer of 20 years. Police have a job to defend the city streets and sometimes aren’t looked at as warriors! I’ve had 2 close friends get killed in the line of duty when I was a Police and have seen things that other civilians couldn’t handle! I thank God a lot for protecting me and my mind!
    Thank you for this article!

  79. So poignantly expressed, Crystal. Your service is as deep and soul-changing as his. You are a testament to what Love can do. Thank you for sharing this.

  80. Thank you for sharing this, Johnathan. You are not alone. Please reach out anytime if I can be of support to you or any veteran you know.

  81. My husband shared this on FB and I read it prior to sharing. It hits home so well. We have been married 21 yrs, together 23. Military service was always his calling, but he chose not to do it in our teenage/young adult years because “I can’t leave you behind.” I always have encouraged him to follow his heart. If he wanted to go in, I would have supported him, like I do now. Instead, he enlisted in the Army @ the age of 33, 12 yrs into our marriage, and 3 kids later. It was not easy by any means. Part of me died when he left for Basic/OSUT. He did what he had to do and I did the same. He then got his orders. We had a year together and another kid @ FH before he deployed. That first year in service was rough. While he was deployed, I did my best to stay grounded, for him, our kids, and newfound friends we called family.

    I have always been the strong one, but even the strongest of people break. Mine came after he came home. He came home in Aug and I gave birth to #5 in Nov. I got pregnant during R&R, yes. Our lives were turned upside down. I knew it wasn’t going to be easy and alot of things slapped me in the face. I even gave up a couple of times because I just couldn’t handle him anymore. I ultimately pulled myself back together and reined him back in.

    I worry about him everyday. His body is falling apart. I see the pain on his face, I feel his frustration. I am his verbal punching bag and his pillow when he needs a place to lay his head. I always have been and always will be his world, yet I worry daily that he will give up. That DD-214 may say you are out of military service, but the fact of the matter remains, a soldier is never out of service. They may not wear the uniform anymore, but they are still a soldier.

    So, to all of you military spouses, stay strong. Stay vigilant. You served right along with your soldier. The soldier may have done the grunt work, but you kept him going and remind him daily why he has a reason to live. Be his reason to live.

  82. Finally someone who gets it…
    i served 23 years.. through three tours of Afghanistan, one of Kosovo, and desert storm… i dunno why but i somehow always thought i was weird for feeling exactly like this article states.. its gotten to the point id rather be there than here sometimes… the only thing that saved me after i came back different and destroyed a marriage … was two dogs and a woman who was stubborn enough to hold me no matter how much i turned away..sometimes its hard to fill the void…i turned to late nights in the military .. but after you get out and there is nothing left what do you do? i’m sure this doesn’t affect everyone… but for me its been tough… i find things i loved to do before hard to go back to. i thank you for writing a very meaningful article.. and hopefully we as the veteran community will share this … this has made my day today reading this … and maybe just maybe by sharing we will reach that veteran that is teetering in the wrong direction.. thanks

  83. Dave, the secret is in what you have always done. The core of warriorhood is service to others. Combat is how we do that. Find ways to get engaged. I serve as an elder in the church, I also do armed security for a couple of churches in my area. I am working on a non profit that engages vets in fuel reduction in the national forests and private lands up here in montana. I am also toying with a mentorship program for vets to help out fatherless youth. Still trying to get my head around that one. But get the guys moving! sitting around discovering your new identity of “has-been with PTSD” is a recipe for disaster. Guys kill themselves because of TBI, PTSD, and loss of purpose. Do what you have always done and find those niches that others will not do for themselves.

    Joe

  84. Thank you, David. I am grateful that it resonates with your heart. Please reach out anytime if I can be of support to you.

  85. WOW. 27 years, four months and one day, I wore the uniform of a US Marine. I saw combat in Desert Storm, Somalia and finally in Iraq. I retired in 2005 and have been searching ever since for my calling in life. I dont know that I have found it or ever will, but such words are amazingly accurate. May God show us the way forward. Thank you for this. It articulates so clearly what so many of us are experiencing.

  86. Wow….I also found a documentary called That Which I Love Destroys Me that has been as eye opening as this article.

  87. I am so grateful it resonates with your heart and helps to give your feelings a voice. Please reach out if I can be of further support to you, Tony.

  88. This piece resonates with me so, so much. Whether it was coming home from Desert Storm, Somalia or Iraq, I always had the nagging feeling that something was missing. I never knew how to reconcile the dichotomy of combat and survival. I could never articulate my feelings, because I wasn’t cognizant of what they were, and there was no one to listen. The USMC taught me that the mission of the rifle squad was to “locate, close with, and destroy the enemy…” When you do this, you destroy parts of yourself, and you feel that there’s no absolution for you. This piece accurately describes this, and offers that there is a sense of absolution.

  89. Thank you, Charles. I am grateful it resonates and that you are going to share it. I agree; you don’t need to be a mental health professional. A heart willing to deeply listen with empathy and reverence is healing. Many blessings to you for walking your journey of sacrifice and love.

  90. Very moving, well written, and spot-on. Sharing this with the community of veterans with which I interact. My faith resonates strongly with what you have written and I think it gives many avenues of intersection for discussion; whether one is a mental health professional or not.
    Trying to improve the lives of those around us should be more than just a common courtesy…
    Former Navy Corpsman & ER Technician,
    retired Marine Infantry & Reconnaissance Officer
    Veteran Charity Cycling supporter

  91. Oh, Tony, it means a lot to me to hear your story and receive your encouragement. Thank YOU for not giving up on yourself (and thank you to that woman who stayed!) … you are a light unto many.

  92. Well said, Britta. I struggled for years going from one career, one marriage to another…landing in a prison cell after destroying a career as a nurse and paramedic (but a stubborn woman stuck with me) and now I work with those coming out of prison and jail with co-occurring and substance use disorders. That and my faith has given me a reason to live that has energized me even more than combat (both land and under the sea). Keep writing dear lady.

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