During the past year, Madeline and I have been giving serious thought about how we might be able to help wounded warriors -- soldiers and families who have been traumatized by military service. The focus is on those whose wounds are no longer physical, but emotional. There are 10s of thousands of wounded warriors with many more who do not acknowledge the fact that they have real and psychological problems from the traumas of war. On top of this there are the spouses and families who are mostly forgotten, not treated at the VA hospitals, etc. There is a critical need for ongoing support of the wounded warriors and their families.
As part of my education to determine what we might best do, I have been reading a book, Resilient Warriors, that speaks about the steps one might take to prepare for the stress and trauma that all of us experience in our lives.
The book, Resilient Warriors, is the first of a three part trilogy, The Resilience Trilogy.* The two future books are Resilient Leaders and Resilient Organizations. Major General Dees, U.S. Army retired, who served our country for over 30 years, is the author.
The premise of the book is about 'bounce,' or the ability to recover from severe stress and trauma. Being resilient is about how high one can rebound following trauma. Dees provides a Resilience Life Cycle© of 'Building Resilience,' 'Weathering the Storm,' and 'Bouncing Back' and shows how one can learn to build resiliency or bounce.
Here is what I interpreted from this book, i.e., the bottom line in considering bounce: "There are no atheists in foxholes!" Said differently, when everything is tried and one is alone, then we hope there is a higher being that will hear our pleas and be a help to us. It is about spiritual strength, having faith that we are not alone. Dees notes that an important step for resiliency is building spiritual strength. When responding from stress and trauma, one can either bounce to become better, or to splat (like an egg) and become bitter. It is also clear that recovering from physical stress and trauma is less complicated than recovering from needs of the spiritual dimension. The physical can be addressed mostly from the 'outside' while the spiritual must come from the 'inside.'
While many of the examples are from a military perspective, the lessons are clearly relevant for all of us as we all face trials and tribulations. Dees highlights the goal of bounce by quoting the following: "We are afflicted in every way, but not crushed; perplexed, but not despairing; persecuted, but not forsaken; struck down, but not destroyed." (2 Corinthians 4:8-9 from the Bible) Hence the goal is to be able to weather such setbacks.
The better we 'bounce' the better person we can be and the more effective we will be in living life and helping others. We will be able to make better decisions when under duress as well. I have no doubts a resilient person lives a fuller and more productive life.
*Resilient Warriors (Robert R. Dees, Major General, U.S. Army , retired, Creative Team Publ, San Diego, 2011)
© Baldwin H. Tom CMC, FIMC