November 7, 2009

A Combat Veteran Struggles with Leaving the Ethics of War Behind

Soldiers and veterans with full blown PTSD usually have low personal self-esteem, a self-constructed foundation of self-affirmations grounded in positive thought, word and deeds, reinforced through values and principles. Esteem manifests in an outward appearance of honor and moral mastery, integrity and humility as others would know a consistency of character established through words, deed and actions. Where all of these principles were meet and mastered in the field of battle they no longer apply to a civilian life or civil society.

The combat schema, a defined preconditioned set of beliefs and values enabling the warrior to navigate efficiently through the adversity of combat without a detailed consideration of consequences. To engage in a mortal fight with the enemy this schema spells out our actions in a given situation as being preoccupied with survivability of the moment can get you killed. The warrior with PTSD has grown accustomed to the value and belief systems of war and feels threatened when they become faced with having to let go of this security to reintegrate back into society.

Without a proper identification of values and a conceptualization of a solid schema we can become lost to the reality of a situation and possibly lose out on our interactions necessary for relationship building. Combat critically changes our value systems, mostly to the detriment of constructing and maintaining significant relationships with family and friends. A disconnect happens between the soldier or veteran that leaves everyone feeling as though an insurmountable wall has been erected.

By an identification of values, along with acknowledging and deconstructing the combat schema one could find the ability to critically analyze in the moment, the validity of said beliefs as required by situational reflection enabling readjustments and disallowing an inflexibility of position. An underpinning of empowering schema and a reevaluation of ethical morality allows one to find plasticity in the moment producing a positive self-efficacy; a confident and self-assured person.

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