A Soldier’s Fearful Battle to Survive

++++I am very excited to announce we have a new guest blogger. Michael Thorin is joining us each month on the third Sunday of each month. He has some inspiring thoughts and ideas to share. His first post is about PTSD, and how he found his way out of the fog of this world. 

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I am so honored to be with you each day sharing hope. The outreach has grown at a tremendous pace. There are over 50 new subscribers a day. The site just past 106,000 in followers. That’s because people are searching for hope and we provide it.

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, is writing a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It reaches out the military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, PTSD, and many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides every day. That is almost one every hour. We need to help stop those statistics. Be looking for more updates about the new book.

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“Where Were You? Where Are You? Where Are You Going?”

This will be written from my perspective on how I chose to cope with PTSD, and how my decisions brought me from a wrecked marriage, anger and depression to a life full of love, joy, and comfort.

Where Was I?

First off, I served 3 months in Afghanistan as a medic for OEF, and then a year and a half in Iraq as a scout. I was assigned to a gun truck platoon performing convoy security and route recon operations on the most dangerous roads in Iraq.

This time was spent dodging bullets, getting hit by IED’s, and essentially being targeted over 90% of the time. I saw things and did things that had no effect on me at the time. I was simply numb to what was going on around me. I had become callous as my family was back home growing more and more emotional, while I lost my emotions to a darkness to the fog of war, and its’ effect on my body, mind and soul.

Where Am I?

Yesterday I was preparing a devotional, and I was hit with a wave of emotions. The devotional is simply related to the effects of PTSD, and how the VA approaches its treatment of PTSD. My wife had forced me to receive treatment in 2014, or she was taking the kids and leaving me.

Something snapped. Since I had gotten home at the end of 2006, I was miserable. Worse, I made my wife and daughters lives painful and miserable as well. I received treatment and still could not get rid of the nightmares, insomnia, anxiety, lack of trust, and my inability to feel any semblance of emotion. I was essentially a zombie with an attitude and a short fuse.

I was broken.

During my time of PTSD counselling, I found one thing very interesting; the counselors could provide self-help techniques for me, but they could not offer me what I needed: redemption and forgiveness.

What I found interesting was that all of the techniques could bring you back from the bad, but could never help you resolve the bad. While I was receiving tips, I was not receiving forgiveness, and this is what I believe to be the root of the problem.

One of my biggest problems was my inability to feel emotions for what I had been through. I thought I should feel guilty, but I didn’t. I thought I should be upset, but I wasn’t.

What kind of a person was I? Where are my emotions and why does nothing in my family concern me?

I was no longer worthy of my family’s love, and I was determined to drive everything I loved away from me, because no one could understand what I was going through. I began having fits of rage and anger.

I needed forgiveness, pure and simple. I needed to know I was still worth something, and that I wasn’t too far gone to become human again. The only way I could feel forgiven was to seek forgiveness from a higher power. The second person I needed forgiveness from was myself, and then my family. I needed to right my wrongs there and then, or I would not be able to go on with my future in peace.

My choice was relying on my Christian faith and realizing that I was worth so much that Christ had hung on the cross, beaten and torn, for me. I was worth forgiveness, and I believe I cried for an hour when that finally hit me.

Where Am I Going?

While I was fumbling through some pictures to prepare the devotional on PTSD I spoke about earlier, I found one that made me stop and thank God for the miracles he worked, and how blessed I was to have not taken the “easy” way out and gave myself a chance at life, a chance to be as close to normal as possible, and that was the answer.

I was no longer beyond saving. I was no longer worthless. I was no longer the guy that could not rectify what he had seen and done with what he was “supposed” to be. I was finally human again, and not an emotionless robot.

This picture made me realize the importance of forgiveness and redemption; they are invaluable tools in the fight against PTSD and veteran suicides.

I hung in and persevered through my faith, and continue to grow and see miracles and blessings in my life, and the lives of those I care about and love. Had I given up, I would have never experienced the miracles of seeing my daughters grow, and then give us two beautiful grandchildren.

My miracle is that I am still here to enjoy my family, and had I given up in the dark days, I would have never been around to see the brilliance of these good days. As I sit here writing this blog I can’t help but shudder at the thought of my never getting a chance to see these two miracles.

Asking for forgiveness is not that hard, accepting that we have received forgiveness is another matter. I found that my comfort in Christ was the only reason I can write this blog. It is simply a miracle. Reach out and find forgiveness, and you should also forgive yourself. It makes life work, or at least it has not failed me yet.

Where do you want to go with your future, and who will you rely on to get there?

“For I know the plans I have for you”, declares the Lord, “plans to prosper you and not to harm you, plans to give you hope and a future.”

Jeremiah 29:11

“Nothing in the world is worth having or worth doing unless it means effort, pain, difficulty… I have never in my life envied a human being who led an easy life. I have envied a great many people who led difficult lives and led them well.”

Theodore Roosevelt

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Michael Thorin

Fultonale, Alabama

 

 

 

 

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Doug Bolton, the founder of Signs of Hope, has written a new book, “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life.” It will be reaching out the many military and veterans who may be battling anxiety, fear, depression, addictions, rejections, and the many other usual suspects. There are 22 military connected suicides ever day. That is almost one every hour. Doug wants to help stop those statistics. Doug sent off his mini proposal to an agent who is very interested in his concept. We will update you when we hear more.
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I am going to Cardio rehab on Tuesdays and Thursdays. I found that there were three veterans that were also in rehab. I found out their names, and got to know them.
Two of them were in Korea like I was. Another was a Vietnam veteran.  It is very interesting that there are so many veterans who are having heart problems, but I haven’t pursued that thought yet.
As I got to know the men, we found that we each had different experiences that should be shared with other veterans. I took it on myself to set-up official interviews with each of the men.
I will share so of the conversations with you on later posts.
The book “Signs of Hope for the Military: In and Out of the Trenches of Life,” Is nearing the finish line. Just a few new added chapters, and finishing up with the large amount of interviews I have lined up, and the book will be ready for publication.
I will give you a quick sneak preview of some of the interviews I have had so far. No names; no places. Just quotes from some of the veterans. I will be disclosing names and places in the book. (This is called a hook, in the writing industry!)
One WWII soldier told me the story of him being a tanker in the war and having a Japanese soldier tossing a grenade into their tank. He said his close buddy next to him was killed instantly. He was wounded. He received the Purple Heart, and another medal for bravery.
Another WWII soldier said he was wounded and lying on the battle field pretending he was dead, as the German soldiers checked to see if anyone was alive. He survived that horrible ordeal, and received the Purple Heart.
A Vietnam era Medic told me about holding soldiers in his arms while they died. He also told me one soldier asked him if he was scared, and he said, “Yes I am.”
Another Vietnam Navy veteran told me he watched in horror as his best friend’s helicopter, he was the pilot of, lifted off of the ship and then crashed into the ocean. It sank with all the soldiers trapped inside. The water was too deep to rescue them, so they all perished.
The first Iraq war left many soldiers with PTSD. I have interviewed some of them and their stories are heartbreaking.
All these interviews and many more will be in the book.
I was in the military. I was deployed just like many other soldiers. I was extremely lucky not to be in a war zone. Many other soldiers were not.
The book will cover deployments, spouses left behind; domestic violence in the military; loneliness; some humor;  individual interviews from many of the soldiers who were in the trenches, and many personal stories.
If you are a veteran, and current person in the military, or even a family member/friend of  someone in the military, I feel this book will be very beneficial to you.
I am not plugging this book for fame or money. I am plugging this book to reach out to all of those veterans and military who maybe hurting.
Here is a statistic that I want to change some how:
  • There are 22 suicides a day amongst the veterans and military. It has never gone below that figure for several years.

Please, if you are military, or a veteran, stand strong. Know that many people are praying for you. Don’t give into the negative thoughts in your head. That is Satan talking to you, and he would love to add you to his trophy wall of people who gave up.

You are a person of much worth. God made you in His image. He loves you. Cling to His promises, which are:

  • You are never alone.
  • You are never forsaken.
  • You are never unloved.

And I must add…. above all…never, ever, give up!

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