Design a site like this with
Get started

PTSD and Grief : Healing Through Nature

July 10, 2022

File:Early Fall in Sierra Nevada Range, CA 9-16 (29957191822).jpg

Early Autumn in the Sierra Nevada, Author Don Graham of Redlands, CA (CC BY-SA 2.0 Generic)

“Everybody needs beauty as well as bread, places to play in and pray in, where nature may heal and give strength to body and soul alike.”

– John Muir

The respected naturalist and environmental philosopher, John Muir, believed that nature offers the body and mind opportunities to heal themselves [1].

Muir tirelessly hiked the Sierra Nevada, writing extensively about his experiences and ultimately co-founding America’s premier conservation organization, the Sierra Club.  His activism helped to preserve both Yosemite and Sequoia National Parks.

Mission Outdoors and Hometown Hero Outdoors are two small non-profits which share Muir’s view.

They afford military service members and veterans a temporary escape from the stress of combat or the difficulties of transitioning to civilian life through hunting, fishing, and other outdoor activities.  Hometown Hero Outdoors is open to law enforcement personnel, as well.


Many of these individuals suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder – an illness to which victims of childhood and/or domestic abuse are, also, prone.

PTSD may occur to those who either witness or undergo a traumatic event such as warfare, terrorism, natural disaster, serious accident, or rape; or who are threatened with sexual violence, severe injury, or death [2A].

The symptoms of PTSD typically include intrusive thoughts, memories, and feelings; flashbacks during which patients re-experience the traumatic event; and/or distressing dreams [2B].

These can result in irritability, anxiety, depression, paranoia, social isolation, poor immune function, and increased risk of heart disease [3A].  They can lead to domestic violence and suicide [3B].

Nature, Grief, and PTSD

Pres. Theodore Roosevelt is known to have abandoned public life and sought consolation on the Western frontier, after the simultaneous deaths of his wife and mother [4].

The adventure restored him.  Roosevelt went on to establish five national parks, 52 national bird sanctuaries, and 150 national forests on 230 million acres of government land [5].

Research is gradually confirming that the awe we feel in nature can provide significant relief to PTSD sufferers and those grieving profound personal loss [3C].

A study reported in the psychological journal Emotion was conducted on veterans and at-risk teens during and after water rafting.  Participants reported a 29% reduction in PTSD symptoms, and a 21% percent decrease in general stress.

God in Nature

Of course, God can be found in nature, as well.  He is the Great Physician.  Nature reflects His majesty and power.  It reminds us of His faithfulness.

Christ, Himself, often withdrew to the wilderness to pray (Luke 5: 16).

Connecting with God

Here are a few practical suggestions for connecting with God through nature [6]:

A.  Experience God in Nature

  • Watch a sunrise or sunset.
  • Visit a local park, beach, or lake especially when there are no crowds.  Visit the woods or mountains, if you can.

B.  Explore God’s Relationship to Nature

  • Read about nature in the Bible.
  • Find the spiritual lessons gardening has to offer.
  • Find the spiritual lessons watching birds and other animals has to offer.

C. Dialog with God in Nature

  • Sit quietly on the porch or in the garden, and focus on the sounds of the natural world.  You may hear the voice of God, deep within your spirit.
  • Temporarily turn off your smartphone and similar electronic devices.  Then take a walk outside as you talk with God.  Unburden your heart.  He is always willing to listen.

In His hand are the deep places of the earth;
The heights of the hills are His also.
The sea is His, for He made it;
And His hands formed the dry land” (Ps. 95: 4-5).

[1]  Wikipedia, John Muir,

[2A and 2B]  American Psychiatric Association, “What is Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD)?”,

[3A, 3B, and 3C]  UC Berkeley, “Nature is proving to be awesome medicine for PTSD” by Yasmin Anwar, 7/21/8,

[4]  History, This Day in History – February 14, 1884, “Theodore Roosevelt’s wife and mother die”, 11/16/09 (updated 5/6/22),

[5]  US Dept. of the Interior, “The Conservation Legacy of Theodore Roosevelt”, 2/14/20,

[6]  Happy, Healthy and Prosperous, “Connect with God through Nature” by Tracy Robbins, 8/16/16,


Navy SEAL Shot 27 Times Credits God With Keeping Him Alive

By Jesse T. Jackson -November 11, 2021

Mike Day
Photo from YouTube: @CBN News

On April 6, 2007, Navy SEAL Sr. Chief Mike Day was shot 27 times by Al-Qaeda terrorists while searching for a high level Al-Qaeda cell.

Day was the first to enter the room, where he was ambushed by four Al-Qaeda terrorists. Day was shot by the terrorists 27 times and hit with grenade shrapnel before killing all four terrorists. Two SEALs who followed Day into the room were both shot, one fatally. Another SEAL team member was shot in the back of the neck and also died.

“Upon entering that doorway, they all just opened up on me. It felt like somebody was just beating me up with sledgehammers,” Day shared.

In an interview with CBN News, Day explained that his body armor did more than what it was designed to do, because it is limited to taking one round safely. After that one round, “it falls apart to the point where they say that it’s not supposed to stop anymore projectiles.”

Day said that what’s even more miraculous is that the entire gunfight took place inside a 10 foot radius, and any of the 27 rounds should have killed him. Eleven of the shots didn’t find Day’s body armor. He was hit in both legs, both arms, and his abdomen. Day said that “anything but my head, I got shot there.”

“After I’d figured out I was getting shot I said, ‘God, get me home to my girls.’ That was my first prayer to God, real prayer.” And God answered it, Day said.

The Sr. Chief was then able to somehow clear the rest of the house, where he rescued six women and children before walking to the evacuation helicopter.

During his two week stay in the hospital, Day lost 55 pounds and spent the next two years recovering from his injuries. Still dealing with lingering pain today, the retired 21-year Navy SEAL, like many other veterans, has also been diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.

In a situation that felt like certain death, Day has speculated about why he didn’t die in that room on that April night. Day said, “I didn’t die, because maybe I wouldn’t have gone to Heaven.”

He was asked, “Why do you think God kept you alive?” Day responded, “To do what I’m doing now,” advocating for and helping other wounded veterans, including those suffering from unseen injuries like him. He has completed a 70.3-mile triathlon to raise money for wounded vets. Day is also the founder of Warrior Tribe, a non-profit organization that provides resiliency programming for young people, veterans, and trauma survivors.

Day has been awarded 16 medals, which include the Navy Cross, two Bronze Stars, and a Purple Heart.


Happy Veterans Day

Veterans Day, observed annually on November 11, is a tribute to military veterans who have served in the U.S. Armed Forces. Not to be confused with Memorial Day, which honors those who died while in service, Veterans Day honors all military veterans, including those still with us.


Veterans Day is observed annually on November 11. It’s a holiday honoring men and women who have served in the U.S. armed forces, on the anniversary of the end of World War I.


Veterans Day, originally celebrated as Armistice Day, was first issued on November 11, 1919, by President Woodrow Wilson a year after the end of World War I. The purpose of Armistice Day was to honor the fallen soldiers of the Great War for their sacrifice and bravery. Seven years later, in 1926, Congress adopted a resolution requesting that President Calvin Coolidge issue annual proclamations on November 11, making Armistice Day a legal holiday.

In 1945, World War II veteran Raymond Weeks had the idea to expand Armistice Day to celebrate all veterans rather than just the ones who died in World War I. He led a delegation to General Dwight Eisenhower, who was all for the idea. Weeks then organized the first Veterans Day celebration in 1945 in Alabama and every year since, until he died in 1985. In 1982, he was honored by President Reagan with the Presidential Citizenship Medal. Weeks was also named the ‘Father of Veterans Day’ by Elizabeth Dole.

In 1954, Ed Rees, the U.S. Representative from Emporia, Kansas, presented a bill to establish the holiday to Congress. Eisenhower, who was then the president and also from Kansas, signed the bill into law on May 26, 1954, eight and a half years after Raymond Weeks held the first Veterans Day. After having been through both World War II and the Korean War, the 83rd U.S. Congress — at the urge of the veterans’ service organizations — amended the Act of 1938 by striking out the word ‘Armistice’ and inserting the word ‘Veterans.’ With the approval of this legislation on June 1, 1954, November 11 became a day to honor American veterans of all wars.

The National Veterans Award was also created in 1954, first received by Congressman Rees for his support in making Veterans Day a federal holiday. Though the holiday is currently and was originally celebrated on November 11, the day was moved to the fourth Monday of October in 1971 due to the Uniform Monday Holiday Act. Finally, on September 20, 1975, President Gerald R. Ford signed a law that returned the annual observance of Veterans Day to its original date of November 11, beginning in 1978.

The holiday is observed by the federal government on a Friday, if the holiday falls on Saturday, or on a Monday, if the holiday falls on a Sunday. Federal government closings are established by the U.S. Office of Personnel Management. State and local government closings are determined locally and non-government businesses can close or remain open as they see fit, regardless of federal, state, or local government operation determinations.

The United States Senate Resolution 143, which was passed on August 4, 2001, designated the week of November 11 through November 17, 2001, as National Veterans Awareness Week. The resolution called for educational efforts directed at elementary and secondary school students concerning the contributions and sacrifices of veterans.


1919Armistice Day

President Woodrow Wilson coined Armistice Day after World War One.

1945 Father of Veterans Day

Raymond Weeks comes up with the idea that Armistice Day should be dedicated to all veterans rather than solely the soldiers who passed away during World War I.

1954Change of Name

President Dwight D. Eisenhower changes the name of the day to Veterans Day to honor more than one set of veterans.

1954Above and Beyond

The National Veterans Award is created to honor outstanding veterans who made the greatest contributions to veteran organizations throughout the country.

1998Burying an Unknown Soldier

The unknown soldier from the Vietnam War, who was buried in Arlington National Cemetery, is identified as Michael Blassie, a 24-year-old pilot shot down in 1972 on the border with Cambodia.


Veterans Day is one of many days remembering the sacrifices of those who fought in a war to protect their country. Here are some other ones from across the globe

Australia and New ZealandANZAC DayMarks the anniversary of the first major military action fought by Australian and New Zealand forces during the First World War, building a national consciousness in both countries.April 25
United Kingdom and Commonwealth NationsRemembrance DayObserved by Canadians and other members of the Commonwealth since the end of the First World War in order to remember all those who fought and died in the line of duty.November 11
South KoreaMemorial DaySouth Koreans honor servicemen and civilians who have died for their country, the same month that the Korean War began.June 6


Give military-themed gifts

Most veterans cherish their time spent serving their country and one of the best ways to honor that service is to present military-themed gifts like bottle openers (apparently a ‘thing’ among vets,) wooden U.S. flags, or specially-designed pens to the veterans in your life.

Check out Veterans Day restaurant deals

Big-name restaurants are looking out for veterans-turned-foodies with Veterans Day deals on free dinners (Chili’s, Applebee’s, and all California Pizza Kitchens) as well as breakfast specials (Golden Corral restaurants from 5–9 A.M.).

Ship some cookies overseas

Remember your active service military friends and veterans’ organizations overseas with a goodie bag of cookies by Operation Cookies, a company owned and operated by veterans sending delicious, home-baked cookies to homesick military personnel stationed anywhere in the world.


19.5 million – the approximate number of veterans in the United States.
9 million – the number of veterans over the age of 65.
5.06 million – the number of veterans receiving disability compensation.
2 million – the number of female veterans of those receiving disability compensation.
500k – the number of World War II veterans still living in the United States.
1.56 million – the number of veterans in California, the highest number in the country.
1.46 million – the number of veterans in Texas, the second-highest number in the country.
11% – the percentage of veterans who experience homelessness.
50% – the percentage of veterans experiencing homelessness who also live with a mental illness like PTSD.


What is Veterans Day?

Veterans Day is a federal holiday to honor all veterans and thank them for their service. 

How do we celebrate Veterans Day?

We all celebrate Veterans Day differently: some people may volunteer at veteran organizations while others may treat the veterans in their life to a special dinner!

What is the importance of Veterans Day?

The importance of Veterans Day is to celebrate and honor all of America’s veterans for their bravery, sacrifice, and love for their country.


  1. Hire a veteran. Veterans face barriers to employment including lack of preparation for civilian jobs and unrealistic expectations for the kind of work and salary they can expect when they get home. But many leaving the military may have led troops into battle, often on multiple deployments, and as a result, they make fantastic leaders and employees.
  2. Go for a run. Do a sponsored run for an organization like Homes for Troops, which assists injured veterans by building homes. They specialize in offering support in fundraising so that you can focus on doing the run and raising as much money as you can to support veterans.
  3. Offer freebies for veterans. Whether you run a business or work for one, thanking veterans for their service by offering free products on Veterans Day is a great way of showing your support. Whether it’s tax return help or simply a cup of coffee, what can your business offer to thank a veteran today?


  1. Many have served in at least one war: As of 2018, 18.2 million veterans who are still alive served in at least one war.
  2. Female veterans: 9% of all veterans in the U.S. are women.
  3. Leading states: As of 2019, the states with the highest percentage of veterans were Alaska, Wyoming, and Virginia.
  4. World War II veterans: 325,000 out of 16 million Americans who participated in World War II, were still alive in 2020.
  5. The Korean War: Two million veterans served during the Korean War.


  1. It’s a chance to thank people for risking their lives to defend AmericaAn estimated 20% of veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder or major depression, according to government statistics. You’d be surprised at how much it means to veterans to feel valued by civilians for their services and sacrifices.
  2. It’s a chance to reflect on the importance of peaceWhile our military is often thought of in a war context, most veterans will tell you that they risked their lives to defend our fundamental freedoms and that they value peace much more highly than war. Very few who have seen the real horror of war are anxious to rush into it, and Veterans Day encourages all of us to reflect on the value of harmony in our daily interactions and lives.
  3. It draws attention to the challenges facing many veterans. Veterans face disproportionate rates of homelessness, deficits in educational achievement, a struggle to find employment, and often have to deal with devastating wounds. In many cases, post-traumatic stress disorder makes it hard for them to reintegrate into regular society. By understanding these challenges, we can all reach across those divides and make sure veterans have the best possible chance of having a healthy and fulfilling life after their service.





VIDEO What Happened To Servant Leaders?

Talents gifts serve

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

May 30, 2016

There is a common phrase that says,’ the more things change, the more they remain the same’. Frankly, it is not always true.

Growing up I would see a full flag holder attached to each parking meter in the downtown area for Veterans Day, Memorial Day, Flag Day, and July 4th. We had a parade on Memorial Day and July 3rd that ended up at the park where the Fireworks display usually ended too soon in a big flourish.  People from all over the town came together over these very patriotic events. No matter their backgrounds or political beliefs, we were all Americans first.

This patriotic environment instilled a pride in being American. Something inside is stirred me upon seeing rows of American Flags line the streets.

At that time people who served in elective or appointed offices generally had the idea that it was a duty and honor to serve in a position for a period of time then return to private life, following the example of George Washington in declining to seek a third term as President.

In his Farwell address Washington sought to convince the American people that his service was no longer necessary by, once again, as he had in his first inaugural address, telling them that he truly believed he was never qualified to be president and, if he accomplished anything during his presidency, it was as a result of their support and efforts to help the country survive and prosper. Despite his confidence that the country would survive without his leadership, Washington used the majority of the letter to offer advice as a “parting friend” on what he believed were the greatest threats to the destruction of the nation.

While I served in different positions the patriotic lessons and the examples of many who served before me who never thought holding a political office was a career path.

Republicans and Democrats had differences of course however we did not have emails, faxes, text messages, and few had caller ID on their phones. We actually talked, either in person or on the phone, and found a path to resolve issues.

If there was a message that needed to be disturbed around town it went by way of telephone or printed flyer that was delivered to every home in town. We had a typewriter and a print shop on standby. Phones were dumb, you either dialed on a Rotary Dial or had a Touch Tone Phone, no apps. George Washington had much less than that during his twenty years of service.

Those years saw many improvements especially in the areas of helping those less fortunate and those suffering from a mental illness.  As with any request or requests for improvements we asked the questions: ’What if it were me or a family member of mine?’ and is this something that a church or private business should be handling? In a way, we were libertarian in not wanting government involved in every aspect of life.

We had a limited amount of revenue and the budget had to be balanced with respect to Police, Fire, Schools, various other services budgets while maintaining roads and town property.

You can liken the attitude of a public servant leader to that of a member of the military, he or she serves for a set numbers of years then goes back into private life. The difference between the two is; members of the military are well aware that they may be coming home in a casket. Either way the servant leader or a member of the military zeal to serve was no less diminished.

One area of improvement recognizing and treating what at one time was known as shell shock. Today PTSD is recognized as one the treatable issues first responders, victims or witnesses of abuse or tragedy can suffer in the same manner as a combat veteran can experience. Today self education and education of loved ones can greatly enhance the PTSD suffers recovery.

Yes, I miss having servant leaders in office who offer a portion of their lives to help make this a better place to live, instead of career politicians. Yes, hope springs eternal that we have not seen the last of the two thousand year old concept of servant leaders. May we look closely and choose wisely as the sanity we may save may be our own.


Just A Common Soldier

Memorial Day: Why We Remember

Star Spangled Banner As You’ve Never Heard It

strong people help others

image from


PTSD, Home and Away

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

September 4, 2018

The hidden scars from the trauma suffered at the hands a spouse, an acquaintance, a terrible accident or witnessing a trauma. PTSD has been more associated to soldiers coming back from war, however first responders and victims of domestic violence in significant numbers are also sufferers.

Something terrifying happens to you. Your heart races. Your palms sweat. You can’t sleep. You don’t want to eat. You can’t get the events of that day out of your mind. Any and all of these are completely normal responses to trauma and would be expected of any one of us. We all experience traumatic life events at some point – so we are all familiar with these physical responses. However, for many of us, particularly our service men and women, the physical responses don’t go away with time. In many cases, they become worse.

For those of us living with PTSD – Post Traumatic Stress Disorder – the world is an unsafe and scary place. Danger lurks in every corner and we are often unable to trust and unwilling to explore. Many of us find ourselves giving up activities that we once enjoyed because the anxiety and fear keep us trapped in a dark and scary place.

PTSD is a reaction that stems from a trauma. The most common image that many of us call to mind is that of a combat soldier. Our soldier has been overseas, faced combat and is now facing a series of adjustment issues as he or she acclimates to life at home. One of the more common stereotypes that come to mind is a combat veteran having a reaction to fireworks. While yes, the noise of the seasonal display can absolutely trigger memories of traumatic events faced overseas, many veterans face far more commonplace challenges. (1)

Fifteen months of carnage in Iraq had left the 29-year-old debilitated by post-traumatic stress disorder. But despite his doctor’s urgent recommendation, the Army failed to send him to a Warrior Transition Unit for help. The best the Department of Veterans Affairs could offer was 10-minute therapy sessions — via videoconference. (2). The results of the failure to provide treatment led to a time in jail for this veteran.

The week before the 4th of July and the week after is a tense time for military veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, some of whom might be startled by the celebratory fireworks.

“Some of the veterans I treat say it’s ironic that we have a holiday celebrating the freedoms they helped fight for, but parts of it can be terrifying for them,” Catherine Coppolillo said. (3)

Despite efforts to reduce the stigma and other barriers faced by veterans seeking psychological counseling, encouraging new work is being done to change this. Since 2011, some of that work was conducted in classrooms at William James College, a small school located west of Boston. William James College claims it is the only U.S. psychology graduate school focused on training veterans as counselors.

“If you talk to most vets, they want to talk to people who have had the same sets of experiences,” Robert Dingman, the director of military and veterans psychology at the school, recently explained to Reuters. “We don’t believe by any means that only vets can help vets, but we think it’s a good career pathway.” (4)

People often find help by helping others with their issues.

Everyone is dealing with something. Some scars are visible some are not. There are many who have found a way to overcome what many would call a disability. Just know you are not alone, there is a way back. Look for that outstretched helping hand waiting for you.

New PTSD Treatment for Soldiers and Families download





Also see

PTSD 12 steps
stop the stigma ptsd


Fear, Anxiety and Courage

By Reverend Paul N. Papas II

31 July 2012

You can have all three. Crowded places, large gatherings and movie theaters have a growing commonality for many.

The shooting tragedy in Aurora, Colorado brought the worst and best of us, once again. We as exceptional Americans have unique qualities that help us in many ways. When confronted with an obstacle someone usually finds away to go overcome it or go over, around, or through it without waiting for a government solution.

There were several named heroes in the Aurora shootings who gave their lives protecting loved ones or friends, just as their were in the field outside of Shanksville, Pennsylvania on 9/11 who brought down plane so it would not hit the Capitol building.

Courage is not the absence of fear. Courage is acting in spite of fear.

There are many named and unnamed heroes who serve and have served in the US Military; they gave the government a blank check to include their lives.

There is a commonality with survivors, victims, heroes, first responders, and witnesses of tragic events or crimes. They all experience emotion.  It is possible that each could be diagnosed and treated for the medical condition of a mental illness called PTSD.

PTSD can cause many symptoms. These symptoms can be grouped into three categories:

1. Re-experiencing symptoms:

  • Flashbacks—reliving the trauma over and over, including physical symptoms like a racing heart or sweating
  • Bad dreams
  • Frightening thoughts.

Re-experiencing symptoms may cause problems in a person’s everyday routine. They can start from the person’s own thoughts and feelings. Words, objects, or situations that are reminders of the event can also trigger re-experiencing.

2. Avoidance symptoms:

  • Staying away from places, events, or objects that are reminders of the experience
  • Feeling emotionally numb
  • Feeling strong guilt, depression, or worry
  • Losing interest in activities that were enjoyable in the past
  • Having trouble remembering the dangerous event.

Things that remind a person of the traumatic event can trigger avoidance symptoms. These symptoms may cause a person to change his or her personal routine. For example, after a bad car accident, a person who usually drives may avoid driving or riding in a car.

3. Hyperarousal symptoms:

  • Being easily startled
  • Feeling tense or “on edge”
  • Having difficulty sleeping, and/or having angry outbursts.

Hyperarousal symptoms are usually constant, instead of being triggered by things that remind one of the traumatic events. They can make the person feel stressed and angry. These symptoms may make it hard to do daily tasks, such as sleeping, eating, or concentrating.

It’s natural to have some of these symptoms after a dangerous event. Sometimes people have very serious symptoms that go away after a few weeks. This is called acute stress disorder, or ASD. When the symptoms last more than a few weeks and become an ongoing problem, they might be PTSD. Some people with PTSD don’t show any symptoms for weeks or months.

It is true most people would not want to think of PTSD as medical condition called a mental illness because of the Stigma attached the words mental illness.

PTSD and other the medical conditions of a mental illness are common and treatable.  If you or someone you know experience any of the symptoms please call your Doctor.

When you are confronted with an obstacle you can or someone can help you find away to go overcome it or go over, around, or through it.

Fear is okay and often healthy. Having some anxiety can be okay. Fear and anxiety can be debilitating if left unchecked. Have the courage to overcome.

VIDEO A Military Family’s Story of Support

Read: A Military Family’s Story of Support 

June 23, 2021

As the daughter of a Veteran, a military spouse, and a VA nurse, Debbie knows the toll that deployments can take on a loved one. Growing up, her father deployed multiple times. She noticed that whenever he came back home, he always seemed a little different.  

“He got gradually more and more angry, and we didn’t really understand what was going on,” Debbie says. She and her sister felt disconnected from their father, and his change in personality started to affect their upbringing. “He wasn’t any fun anymore, and he didn’t like to go to crowded places,” Debbie recalls. “He would startle really easily.” 

More recently, when Debbie’s husband Jim –– a member of the U.S. Air Force — went on numerous deployments throughout his career, she noticed a familiar pattern each time he returned. “[Jim] started getting more and more upset. He abused drugs and alcohol for a little while,” Debbie says. “It was really scary, because we had at that point three little kids that were under 6 years old in the house. I knew what it was like to be a kid going through that.” 

Recovery for the whole family

As Debbie was dealing with her husband’s change in behavior, her father began talking to fellow Veterans about their experiences. Hearing similar stories from others helped him realize that he wasn’t alone. It also allowed him to help Debbie and Jim.  

“When [my father] saw Jim start having trouble, he was very supportive,” Debbie says. Her father encouraged Jim to make a change for the sake of his wife and their kids — as Debbie explains, to “take the steps that I wasn’t strong enough to take.”  

“When [Jim] realized that his whole family was carrying the burden, that really made a big difference,” Debbie says. “Once he started getting help, I think it surprised him how quickly he turned things around. He’s doing much better now.”  

Working with VA counselors has helped improve their marriage and strengthen Jim’s relationship with their children. “That has been really helpful for my children to understand what PTSD is — how it affects you,” he says.  

This month, we celebrate Father’s Day and the impact that fathers can have in our lives. For Debbie, her father’s decision to seek help for his mental health challenges became instrumental in helping her husband get treatment. It’s allowed Jim to resolve the tensions in his marriage and become a better parent for their children.  

“It’s not about courage,” Debbie says. “It’s about being smart [and] doing the smart thing — not just the brave thing.”

VIDEO Recognizing signs of PTSD and TBI

Relating to civilians was a challenge for Schuyler after he got out of the Army. He felt on edge, and sometimes he had trouble managing his frustration. He didn’t believe he had PTSD, but he knew something wasn’t right. Learning he had a traumatic brain injury led him to VA and Vet Center resources that helped him turn his life around.


Combat Veteran Embraces Whole Health

Army Veteran Ricardo Martinez meets with Whole Health Coach, Rossyvette Harrington.

Army Veteran Ricardo Martinez meets with Whole Health Coach, Rossyvette Harrington.

April 7, 2021

Combat Veterans are known for their ability to respond quickly and decisively, but Army Veteran, Ricardo Martinez found himself facing an internal threat that required a Whole Health approach to attack the enemy of Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).

For more than a year, the Iraqi War Veteran isolated himself; and during that time he lost six people he cared about to COVID-19. “Everything got pushed down,” said Martinez, who served in the Army for six years, including time serving in the 82nd Airborne Division. Even trips to the park with his young daughter were off the table, as Martinez struggled to manage his condition on his own. Depression was ruining Martinez’s life, and he knew it.

Studies have shown that male Veterans with PTSD are more likely to report marital or relationship problems, higher levels of parenting problems, and generally poorer family adjustment than Veterans without PTSD. VA offers the kind of treatment and support that can bridge the gap between isolation and living a full life.

Finally, his fears of losing his wife and daughter prompted him to seek help at the Lovell Federal Health Care Center (FHCC) in North Chicago, Illinois for treatment of his PTSD.

For Martinez, this was the fourth time he entered the PTSD program, but this time he knew he would do whatever it took to heal. This time around, he was supported by Whole Health Coach, Rossyvette Harrington, and he quickly recognized it could make the difference. “Whole Health is lifting me up,” Martinez said. “Before, I just kept quitting. Whole Health gives me more resources. All you have to do is ask. You think there’s no one there to listen, but there is.”

“I’m open-minded,” Martinez said several weeks after he started his treatment and embraced the Whole Health approach. “Let’s try this. It’s up to me to see what I want to work on first, and I like that you go at your own pace.”

Lovell FHCC is the first and only fully integrated Department of Veterans Affairs and Department of Defense (Navy) health care facility, serving military patients and their families, and Veterans in Southeast Wisconsin and Northeast Illinois. It has implemented the Whole Health system across the hospital.

Whole Health is a proactive approach to health care which equips, empowers and treats Veterans; allowing them to discover what matters most in their lives. “What I find most fulfilling about the Whole Health approach to care and Whole Health Coaching is offering patients the opportunity to tell their story,” Harrington said. “When our patients feel heard, they are empowered to take charge of their health and begin working towards wellness.”

Martinez used the Live Whole Health App to complete a Personal Health Inventory (PHI), a primary tool in Whole Health which offers the Veteran guidance to determine what’s important to you and what you want your health for. To fully understand what he wanted his health for, he worked on formulating his Mission, Aspiration and Purpose (MAP) and keeps that in the forefront of his mind. Martinez’s goal, the reason he wants his health, is to be a “better person, father, son, brother and husband.”

Of eight components of health and well-being, Martinez decided to first focus on the “power of the mind.” He practices exercises to help him relax, let go of his anxiety and pay attention to his heart rate and breathing. This, in turn, has helped him control his blood pressure. He started practicing meditation and mindful thinking several times a day using tools he can access through the Live Whole Health app on his phone.

Martinez has also been dealing with chronic pain from an accident that occurred while he was on active duty; and he plans to use Whole Health resources to learn about pain management and “ease off” some of his pain medications.

Martinez is reminded of his MAP every time his lock screen pops up on his phone and he sees the picture of his daughter hugging him and smiling at her first Chicago Cubs baseball game. The photo was taken the summer before he left home to get treatment and “it was one of my best days,” he said. “You always see the picture. It’s always a motivation.”

He says his ideal future is simple. “It’s being alive,” he said. “I want to see my daughter walk down the aisle.”

For a combat Veteran who served in the 82nd Airborne Division, seeking help was “a feat in itself,” Martinez said. Attacking the enemy of PTSD and isolation has been one of the most successful battles of Martinez’s life, and he is grateful to have found this path for himself and his family.

“I want other Veterans to benefit,” he said. He can see himself in the future as a Whole Health peer facilitator, a role in the Whole Health system that allows Veterans to work with Veterans to create their own pathway to health and well-being.

For more information on Whole Health and how you can get started on your journey, visit

Written by: Jayna Legg, Public Affairs Specialist, Captain James A. Lovell Federal Health Care Center

Caring For Others, Add Yourself

March 7, 2008

Jesus -tender-care

By Rev. Paul N. Papas II

Many of us who are caring for others, some by design, some by default forget to add ourselves. If our batteries are low we have little power to help others. If our health fails we then could become unable to help ourselves never mind help the people would depend on us.

Care giving creates stress which if not addressed can be debilitating. People who have severe medical, emotional or mental health conditions are pouring out their lives to people they trust and often place their recovery in the hands of the very same people. On one hand it is an awesome responsibility while at the same time being very fulfilling. Success or failures are powerful emotions that affect each care giver.

My grandmother had an awesome gift of a green thumb. She would take plants that appeared to be a lost cause, dead and would patiently nurture and personally care for each plant back to blossoming health. She never accepted anything from anyone other than a thank you for reviving their plants. To me she was a good example of how to help the hurting to heal.

An all too often scenario is an adult who was involved in or witnessed traumatic relationship experiences while they were young the most destructive of which is known as attachment trauma. Attachment trauma occurs when the person to whom a child looks for comfort and safety becomes the direct source of his or her fear and distress. The reasons why the person who created the fear and distress are long and include learned behavior and medical issues such as a mental illness which were not properly addressed creating a cycle.

If the care giver is not careful the very actions that they are helping others address become part of their own actions. The care giver can become desensitized. The care giver who fails to practice self care can become an unwitting victim and can actually do more damage than they purport to help.

Some questions asked by people I help are: “Am I worthy of love?”

“Am I capable of getting my needs met?” “Who can I trust or rely upon during times of my distress? “What does real love look like?” Makes one stop and think. How would you answer these questions? The answers depend upon your experiences and how healthy you are.

It makes no difference how long one has been hurting, if one is willing to do the work healing is available. Anytime is a good time to start…the sooner the better.

Depression and Post-Traumatic Stress are real and treatable consequences of witnessing trauma first or second hand.

Some signs to look for are: household bills piling up, reluctance to leave the house, losing interest in normal daily activities such as preparing meals or personal hygiene, marked changes in behavior, increased listlessness, not wanting to get dressed, long sleep hours or no sleep, problems with focusing or making decisions, restlessness, easily annoyed, quick anger, unexplained physical problems, even thoughts of suicide.

I urge every care giver to evaluate their own health and use the support services of other care givers keeping their own batteries freshly charged

Finding healthy outside activities unrelated to care giving or work are very effective ways to healthy minds, bodies and spirit. A healthy mind, body, and spirit foster the same in others, producing hope. Hope and faith go together to promote healing. A healthy person is a blessing to others.

%d bloggers like this: