November 11, 2009

Combat Veterans Bring the Monster of War Home: The Story of SGT Travis Triggs

A Hospital Corpsman attached to the 3rd Battal...
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Welcome home my brothers and sisters, welcome home. Thank you for your service and continuing sacrifices. I pray that you have a blessed Veterans Day. Below I mention Sgt. Travis Triggs who had lost his way home from spiritual and mental wounds of war. Sgt. Triggs is fast becoming the norm when counting the revolving doors and tours of duty. Imagine having lived through the horrors of war and in going home knowing that in all probability you will run with death again.

How would you release the demon raging in your mind?

I was just reading about Sgt. Travis Triggs again, for those that do not know who I am talking about he was the soldier who had 5, yes FIVE tours of combat, that shot himself and his brother in the head after a police car chase. He went to Iraq 4 times and Afghanistan once. He had never been in trouble before that day even though the media had portrayed them both as having violent criminal histories. Sgt. Triggs volunteered for the extra deployments,
My symptoms went away. After all, I was going back to the fight, back to shared adversity, where the tempo is high and our adrenaline pulses through our veins like hot blood (as cited in Times Online, November 23, 2008).
The article gives an account of a lost soul that had left everything over in a far away land where the blood runs thick as the bonds of brotherhood. He had assumed a culture of killing and the persona of a "combat self," a subsumption of the "Soldier's Heart," shedding all of the remnants of his civilian identity and connections to self and home. He had become the perfect soldier, much too perfect.

There is disconnection between everything that is human and the necessities of killing and what has to be done in combat. Imagine being in an unimaginable situation and having to do the unthinkable. How can this be done? A disconnection between everything human and having to do the unimaginable resounds in combat. For we must wholly demonize our adversary and in the process we dehumanize ourselves, whereas the monster must die. A neurological reprogramming engaging dissociative states and a compartmentalization splitting. In doing so some veterans and soldiers lose their way, not only on the inside of our mind but now they become outsiders in society. Everything at home had become foreign to him, he had become lost within a once comfortable environment.

The parallel contrasts to my article on identity and dissociation and Sgt. Triggs? On the night where I had lost myself into psychosis, if the police had shown up, or if someone had confronted me on my abnormal behavior, it would had became real and the psychotic break would have been complete. I was convinced that everyone was out to get me and I would have responded with violence to "protect" myself due to a warped conception of a perceived threat.

I ran out of that house and jumped into my car and drove away; drunk, high and out of my mind. Easily I could have been in an incident that probably would have resulted in a similar outcome. My death, an innocent bystander and possibly the police.

To survive war is not a relief, it is a sentence of grief, guilt, pain and shame from killing and surviving.

Let me ask again, How would you release the demon raging in your mind?


  1. That is a very sobering question, Scott. I'll be thinking on that one for a long while.

  2. As I do daily. Thanks Nichole for trying to understand our modern combat veterans.

  3. One cannot take human life (murder/kill) and remain normal. It is impossible. Life is sacred and it is a gift given to us by God. No one has a right to kill another. That is why we have the commandment, "Thou shalt not kill" regardless of what governments, or individuals tall us.

    We reap what we sow. It is painful indeed.

  4. Anonymous,

    We reap what we sow?

    sow - to scatter (seed) over the ground for growing. To spread (land, for example) with seed. To strew something around or over (an area); distribute something over. To propagate; disseminate: sow rumors. To scatter seed for growing.

    sow (one's) oats/wild oats, to indulge in dissolute or licentious behavior, especially to be sexually promiscuous, when young.

    Usually used of men (from

    Now, to employ such a devious and licentious projection (psychological term...go look it up) onto Combat PTSD Veterans labeling them as deviant. Now, I must ask you this. Do you know the suffering of a Combat PTSD Veteran who by no action of their own, barring signing a piece of paper, who feel the burden of a nation on their shoulders and nowhere to go because the system is already overloaded with Combat Veterans. It has been estimated by the Federal Prison Bureau the 10% of the American jails and prisons house veterans. The last time the incarcerated veteran population was in double digits was 10 years after the Vietnam War. We are now in double digits and the war is not over!

    We do no have enough resources to help our warriors come home safely...never mind who started what and your personal opinion of the war. These men and women are not some hard statistic for you to say "Damn shame, they got it coming though for what they did says so in the bible."

    They gave you the freedom to be condescending and judgmental! Painful indeed? Seriously? Sounds like you have no idea what such pain feels like, talking about it in such a flippant and caviler way!

  5. I fight my monster every day....sometimes it gets the upper hand and I add to the problems I already have. I fight every day to keep sane, to be "normal", to keep my job and keep my family intact. I fought well in Iraq...and won. I am still fighting, but feel I am destined to loose this fight. God, how I want this monster to go away.

  6. Anony, Go the VA, yes they can suck big time sometimes. But, if you read in these sections under Resources for Soldiers, Veterans, Families and Loved Ones you will be able to get the hep you need:

    Veteran Benefits, VA Policy and Directives

    Veteran Reintegration and Barriers to Care

    Suggested Guide to PTSD Management

    You might be able to find some help along the way in reading here, if nothing else you will understand yourself better (Beware - Understanding why we do what we do will not change any of this...).

    I have been where you can make it home if you keep working at coming home everyday. We say 'Welcome Home' to our brothers and sisters in arms because the battle never leaves us, as we return home from combat everyday of our lives.

    Your monster is not just your is the monster of all Warriors, we should carry it together. You are not meant to carry this burden alone, come home to your brothers and sisters. Seek us out in your community, we are there waiting for you.

    The guilt and shame we carry we can share in and begin to heal.

  7. Scott, your blog has been an unbelievable insight into combat PTSD and given me so much to think about. Thank you. My friend came back from Afghanistan a few months ago and has found it quite difficult to re-adjust but I only realised how much he was suffering during a huge drunken breakdown a few weeks ago. I felt so helpless I didn't know what to say or do but I held him when he cried and left him alone when he asked. The next day when he had sobered up I asked him how he was feeling and if he wanted to talk about it but he said no and I didn't want to push him. And then a few days later he said that he was going to apply to go back to Afghanistan. I was speechless. He said life was much simpler there and of course I have no comprehension of how it is over there but I really wanted to say I didn't think it was a good idea. But didn't feel like I had any right to say anything so I have kept silent. A few days ago he told me he put his application in and I was so upset, is there anything I can say? I know he is suffering and now from reading your blog I have a small idea just how much, I don't want him to feel even worse.....

  8. Amy, this is a tough situation. First of all you will probably not be able to talk him out of it. Second, unconditional love is just that we love them, but we cannot and do not try to control them. This will put them on the defense and no one wants a combat vet on the defense receiving mixed up signals.

    He will keep opening up, it took me 19 years for me to finally open up and talk about my combat experience, many will never talk about it.

    This may not make much sense to someone who has never experienced it, but he will feel worlds better back in the battle-zone. He knows the risks, dangers and never goes without backup. He does not have to look over his shoulder, because his squad mate has it covered. He is told when to eat, drink, shit and sleep. He knows what to expect everyday for the next 365 days and he will never feel alone there.

    I still feel the powerful bond I forged with my battle buddies that I will never forget. I long for their company as much today as when I left the theater of war. If I could go to war today, I know that my PTSD symptoms would vanish, as your veterans will if he goes back. This is an issue worth studying and researching as this trend is spreading. Our soldiers are on average 4 and 5 tours of duty.

  9. For the life of me I cannot figure out why our government and the general public is not willing to do more for our Veterans.

    PTSD is a demon. One that not only invades the mind of the soldier, but the mind of every individual that loves the soldier. It eats at the heart of the wife who watches her husband pace the living room without any explanation for his restlessness. It eats at the innocent soul of the child that watches their hero throw a toy across the room that startled him with it's sound.

    Being an Army wife was not easy when he was away. And now that he has been safe at home for 4 years, I find myself wondering if it would have been easier if he had not made it. I know this is awful to put in writing. I understand that every wife or husband that has lost their soldier would do anything to have them back in any shape or form. I only mean to reflect on my personal 4 year struggle to be the "perfect" wife to a struggling hero.

    Life has become littered with invisible obstacles that never seem to get easier. I feel for every soldier, every wife and husband, every child, every parent, every friend of a soldier. I pray that one day everyone will be fighting for our soldiers the way they have fought for us.

  10. Anoy, this is why we write here, to be here for you when you need us. We are here to let you know that you are not alone, you do not suffer in silence. There is hope, you must act to educate yourself and self care is your number one priority. You cannot be a Combat PTSD Caretaker if you do not care for self first, that is your first lesson. Read the first two years of this site and you will begin to understand your life better. Come back often, we are here for you.


Please share your comments, stories and information. Thank you. ~ Scott Lee