October 4, 2008

Personal Attachments, Before and After Combat

In normal environments such as a community, surroundings and especially in our family lives, we as humans develop attachments to people, places and things. Such connections bring a sense of comfort, peace and normalcy along with feelings of protection and safety. We can let down our guard and protective mechanisms around people most familiar to us as we have become bonded to one another.

The bonds, mutuality, and familiarity combine to form a sphere of communion we rarely think about until we loose it. The concentric circles of influence radiate outward while becoming increasingly formal and incrementally lacking of freely given trust. We learn boundaries initially from parental role models within the family unit and continue doing so through our peers as we mature and branch out ever more into our communities.

We will incorporate feelings of nostalgia associated with the environments that bring about pleasant emotional states; the proverbial "memory lane". By doing so we link personal affinity to such settings, that bring positive grounding through personalizing the identifying emotional states, with the environment.

Upon penetrating the point of no return in the combat zone the soldier enters into another world of existence that defies all prior knowledge and experience. No amount of training can prepare one for the mental severing of the soul from the body and mind. This cleaving wretches all other affiliations both externally and internally as the body, mind and soul have become compartmentalized from all other aspects of the person. The higher mind and soul become fastened to the absurdity of war and locked away, while out of necessity the body becomes separated and fixated to the immediate arena of kill or be killed. The mind resets the linkage of attachments from the ruble of comfort, contentedness and connectedness to the raging fight for life.

The powerful attachments and reliance on combat survival skills, and their battle buddies have become so welded to the soldier's identity, that some find it hard to let go of that familial feeling of brotherhood. The valid fear of dying does not become real until returning home which then becomes projected at the environment and all apparent abject hostility.

Our returning soldiers and veterans can begin to readjust to the psychological trauma they have received during combat. Especially the ones who have developed strong attachments within a group they identify and interact with regularly. They will need to seek others who have experinced similar situations so as to lessen the internal pain of severing the ties of blood brothers back in the battlefield. The soldier or veteran did not choose for these bonds with family members to be broken, it was a matter of necessity for their survival.

Family understanding and involvement has an integral impact on our returning troops successful reintegration back into society. Upon returning home the warrior will require time, to actually feel like they have returned home, it may take years for some. "The battle never leaves us, as we return from conflict everyday of our lives" (Lee, S.).

The family must understand that the soldier returning will not be the same person they walked to the tarmac and watched depart.

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