New Evidence of PTSD in 1300 BC: What we can learn from history

Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) and the suicide epidemic have been at the forefront of Veteran’s issues, stimulating a lot of discussion about why so many of our Warriors are taking their own lives.  PTS is probably the most misunderstood condition in our society, causing our Warriors to become the most misunderstood people. The mystery that surrounds PTS is hardly reasonable, given the fact that PTS is nothing new.

Prior to 2014, it was believed that the earliest historical documentation of PTS dated back to the Greek Historian Herodotus’ account of the Marathon Wars in 490 BC. However, new research has shown that even earlier evidence of PTS exists in the medical documentation of the Assyrian Dynasty from as far back as 1300 BC. What is most surprising is not the fact that PTS existed in those times, but rather the fact that this ancient culture seemed to have a better grasp on the issue than our culture does today. Indeed, “those who cannot remember history are doomed to repeat it,” and since our culture has dismissed the lessons learned by our ancestors, we have paid a dear price.

Just a few months ago, I was speaking to a Four Star General whose name I will not repeat here. As we spoke about the issue of PTS-related suicide, the General asked me, “What is it with your generation of Warriors? Did your mothers just coddle you boys too much?” I replied in a way that a true politician would understand, and avoided answering the question directly. 

“Well General, actually 70% of the suicides among our Warriors aren’t committed by the Warriors from my generation. The suicides come from Warriors in your generation. The difference you see is that Warriors from my generation actually have the balls to admit that there is something wrong, while the Warriors from your generation are too worried about what their friends might think if they admit they are suffering. We’re all human and have feelings, General. May as well own it.”

Whether we want to admit it or not, many, especially the generation of leaders holding the cards and the power, feel that Post Traumatic Stress is a sign of weakness. Perhaps that’s part of why we have seen so little movement on the issue.

Older generations of Vets accuse the new generation of Warriors as being weak or not having training that was tough enough. Often, I hear fat old Vets talk about how they walked up hill to school going both ways and had to do this or that in their training. “Yea, I bet it sucked… now what’s your excuse for being an angry drunk? Oh, that’s right… Post Traumatic Stress.”

I guess walking up a hill both ways to school doesn’t make you immune to changes in the brain that occur during combat. No matter how tough you are, you can’t escape the psychological impact of war. It isn’t anything to be ashamed of either. It isn’t an issue of strength or weakness. It’s a matter of existing on this earth as a human being and experiencing extreme stress and trauma.

When a person goes to war, the brain changes. The Limbic System, which manages the fight or flight response, is essentially “getting a workout” which causes it to become hyperactive. Because the brain operates in a balanced way, an increase in activity in the Limbic System simultaneously causes a decrease of activity in the Prefrontal Cortex. The Prefrontal Cortex is the part of your brain that enables you to make good decisions and experience love and compassion. If the Limbic System is hyperactive, you will experience more fear, anxiety, panic attacks, irritability, nightmares, and paranoia. At the same time, diminished Prefrontal Cortex activity will prevent you from being able to feel connected to others or exercise good judgment.

What our Warriors are experiencing today is the same post-war problem that Warriors throughout history have experienced. The primary difference is that our culture is not as well suited to HEAL our Warriors. 

The only way to heal Post Traumatic Stress is to restore the balance in the brain, by strengthening the Prefrontal Cortex, causing the Limbic System to relinquish control. In other words, we need to workout our Prefrontal Cortex, which is possible by practicing meditation or yoga regularly. Unfortunately, only a few organizations, including Save A Warrior, are committed to teaching and instilling a regular meditation practice.

In the ancient world, meditation was commonly practiced in nearly all cultures in different forms. Furthermore, historically, human beings have existed in societies where mental rest was part of a typical day as there were fewer distractions. In our culture, we are bombarded with tasks, information, and other stimuli constantly. Smart phones, computers, video games, emails, and text messages have filled the gaps of a routine schedule. For us, the opportunity to relax is minimal unless we intentionally seek out moments for recuperation.

Another key difference between our society and those of the past is the fact that our ancestors understood the vitality of incorporating spiritual practices and rituals in the healing process. For those suffering from moral injuries, faith and spirituality are essential components of healing.

Moral injury is characterized by the pain, grief, and sadness one feels when exposed to traumatic situations that injure the psyche and/or soul as a result of violating moral, spiritual, cultural, or personal norms of behavior. For example, taking the life of another human being is not easy. Sure, you might have been "doing your job,” but nearly all Warriors who take the life of another human experience long-lasting grief that resonates deep within. Those who don't can generally be characterized as sociopaths. Survivor’s Guilt is another example, as many Warriors feel guilty for not being able to save the life of a fellow Warrior. There is no medication on the planet that can heal the heart of such grief, guilt, shame, or sadness… Healing must come from somewhere else.

In our culture and military training, we are taught to deal with these feelings by burying or hiding them. Many of us just pretend as if those things didn’t happen at all. We just ignore it and try to move on. Unfortunately, human beings can’t operate that way because we cannot selectively numb emotions. If you numb one emotion, such as fear or sadness, you numb all emotions, including joy, happiness, and love. Without the beautiful emotions, we lose the will to live.

In ancient Warrior cultures, including the Navajo and Assyrian cultures, rituals were used to support Warriors as they left behind the painful memories of combat. They understood the power of bringing Warriors together in a group, having them acknowledge their pain together, and then engaging in a physical activity that defined and marked a moment in time when they let go of the past.

Many of our Warriors experience shame for being in psychological distress, because they perceive it to be as a result of weakness of character; this is what our culture has taught them. In reality, what they are experiencing is simply a result of being human. When they learn the reality and scientific explanation for what is occurring, and are able to share their experiences IN A GROUP and see that their fellow Warriors feel the same way, it ameliorates the shame and provides healing.

In Nothing New under the Sun: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder in the Ancient World, the authors point out that the Assyrians used two types of healers to treat PTS. The asipu was a spiritual healer, while the asu was a medical healer. The two worked together to form a holistic model of healing.

In one Assyrian ritual, the asipu would invoke the name of dead Warriors and say, “You [the Warrior who is suffering with grief] are made to swear, You lift up the reed torch and say as follows: ‘From this day on, [the dead Warrior will] head for somewhere else.’”

Warriors often dwell on the loss of their comrades, wondering what they could have done differently to save them. However, the past is in the past, and dwelling on negative circumstances such as this is called rumination. Rumination damages the brain, causing further hyperactivity to the Limbic System. Although it is unlikely that the Assyrians understood the neuroscience behind this in the year 1300 BC, it is obvious that they understood the importance of leaving behind painful memories. The above-mentioned ritual is designed to help Warriors separate with the past, as the grief-stricken Warrior says goodbye to his dead friends, once and for all.

Warriors from Cohort 013 walk a labyrinth, which is an ancient contemplative practice that helps Warriors to reflect internally and leave behind painful parts of their pasts. Photo courtesy of Garrett Combs.

Warriors from Cohort 013 walk a labyrinth, which is an ancient contemplative practice that helps Warriors to reflect internally and leave behind painful parts of their pasts. Photo courtesy of Garrett Combs.

At Save A Warrior, we do a similar ritual, called The Ceremony for the Dead, as described in Karl Marlantes’ book What it is Like to Go to War. This ceremony, and the similar activities we use at Save A Warrior are uniquely designed to heal our Warriors minds and souls so that they can move forward in life unhampered by painful memories.

In our disconnected culture, engaging in such activities seems unfamiliar and bizarre. We’re dangerously out of touch with reality. Post Traumatic Stress and Moral Injury can’t be fixed with a pill or by some distant therapist who hasn’t the slightest idea of what it’s like to stand in the boots of a Warrior. Something as deeply disturbing as the memories of war must be dealt with on a spiritual level. We must come together and reach deep into the grieving soul to part with those memories that no longer serve us.

Ancient documents and stories describe how our ancestors dealt with PTS by attacking it holistically, while Save A Warrior has implemented many of the same practices with a 100% success rate at reducing symptoms of PTS and saving lives of suicidal Warriors. On the other hand, studies show that only 16% of Warriors undergoing treatment at the VA for PTS report that it was beneficial for their health. The same amount reported VA treatments made their condition worse.

Post Traumatic Stress is nothing new. The only thing that is new is our dramatic and despicable failure as a society to deal with it appropriately, by neglecting both historical and cutting-edge medical research that shows there is a better way forward. Save A Warrior is familiar with the lessons of the past and is armed with the life-saving knowledge of today. We are making a tremendous difference, but need your support. Please join the fight. http://www.saveawarrior.org/donate-1/#donate

American Sniper: Why this Vet won't watch it, but hopes you will

American Sniper: Why this Vet won't watch it, but hopes you will

Save A Warrior graduates, Jay Waldo and Adam Magers, pose for a picture following the 3-month long Battle of Sadr City.

Save A Warrior graduates, Jay Waldo and Adam Magers, pose for a picture following the 3-month long Battle of Sadr City.

First off, let me start off by saying that it isn’t that I don’t want to watch American Sniper. It’s just that I know better. If you’ve seen American Sniper, you can probably gather that war, and it’s aftermath, are no joke. I fought in the Battle of Sadr City, which is where Navy SEAL Sniper, Chris Kyle, tallied a vast majority of his confirmed kills. I served there as an “IED (Improvised Explosive Device) Hunter” and my platoon’s medic. Since coming home, even the most simple or harmless of stress-inducing situations have made life difficult for me… I couldn’t even watch Game 7 of the World Series, with my favorite team on the field, because the anxiety was overwhelming. Watching a war movie, where the climax focuses on a battle I actually fought in, would likely provoke a panic attack and result in many sleepless nights.

I hesitated to even write this post, for fear of what demons might be awoken as I sift through memories that I have already laid to rest. In this situation, I have decided that it is something I must do, because my message has a purpose: to inspire you to take action.

It seems that everyone is talking about this movie. It has sparked controversy among the public and among the Warrior community, for reasons ranging from the political story that was neglected, to whether or not the story itself was accurate. In the wake of the film’s release, a Rolling Stone article bashes Clint Eastwood for avoiding the politics behind the war in Iraq, while it mocks the portrayal of Chris Kyle as a “killing machine with a heart of gold.” Warriors and others are criticizing Chris Kyle, making accusations that he was a liar.

It is unfortunate that so many are missing the point.

Regardless of how factually accurate or inaccurate the movie is, the story is still more or less true… and it isn’t only true of Chris Kyle. It is the true story of countless salty, selfless, hardworking, genuinely good-natured, battle-fighting Warriors who spent months and years of their lives in the combat zone for the sake of service to others. It is also the story of the price that we have all paid, and continue to pay each day, as we live with the memories of war.

War truly is hell, and from what I can gather, it seems that American Sniper has done a remarkable job of capturing that. I know several people who have said that they almost walked out of the theatre on numerous occasions because there were parts that were difficult to watch.

Imagine what it would be like to live in moments like the ones that you saw on film. My first week in Iraq, I watched a civilian die due to gunshot wounds to the chest, neck, and head that were a result of a freak accident. It was a result of what they call the fog of war. I’ll never get those images out of my mind. Later that week, I experienced combat for the first time, surviving my first of many ambushes on Route Grizzlies bordering Sadr City. Because of those nights, a flash in the darkness will never seem innocent to me.

As my year in Baghdad went on, I survived more ambushes than I can count, IED strikes on my vehicle, the most intense firefights you can imagine, and the lob bomb attack you can see below (WARNING for Combat Veterans: I encourage you NOT to watch this video. It may trigger you). I actually experienced the fights that you see portrayed in American Sniper, including a major battle where my platoon-mates (including Save A Warrior’s, Jay Waldo) were engaged by “Mustafa,” the notorious Jaysh al Mahdi sniper who is a part of this film.  By the way, in regards to Sadr City's infamous sniper, Chris Kyle never claimed to kill him and stated that he never even saw him. However, after a major firefight where the sniper was engaging my platoon and our M-1 escorts, the sniper never attacked US or Iraqi forces again, leading most involved in the Battle to believe he died in that fight… enough war stories. I digress.

 

Lob-Bomb attack at JSS Tharwa 1, aka JSS Sadr City on April 28, 2008.

 

My point is, war is much worse than the uncomfortable scenes you witness in American Sniper. No movie can capture the terror that rips through your body in a major fight or the horrible feeling of having an IED explode on your vehicle. A film can’t capture how tired you feel after running on four hours of sleep a day, wearing 50 pounds of gear, living off of cigarettes and MREs, and dealing with the mental torture of combat. It’s worse than what I can describe or explain, which is one reason you should consider seeing the movie. It will, in a small way, help you to relate to what we have experienced and hopefully close the enormous gap between those who have experienced war and those who haven’t. Closing this gap is critical, because all people must understand and respect the seriousness of the horror of war, because if we fail to acknowledge it we cannot prevent future wars, nor the unbelievable damage it causes on all sides. If you don't walk away from this film hating war and the suffering that results from it, I encourage you to reflect more on how you might feel if you or your family members were the ones experiencing it. We cannot continue to exist as a society that takes war lightly.

When I came home, I didn’t even know who I was anymore. Part of me died in Baghdad’s Sadr City and I came home realizing that something new, and even a little scary, had been born inside of me.

The first year back in the States was rough. I was just picking up the broken pieces, looking at them, and dropping them again. I couldn’t figure out how to reassemble what was left. At the beginning of my second year back home, the last ramparts of my old self completely crumbled and were lost. I tried to regain my life for months, but there was no possibility of resurrecting the old me. I tried everything: all of the anti-depressants the VA could throw at me and a variety of different types of therapy. I became suicidal, not believing that there was any possibility for healing. Even the most horrifying moments of war could not compare to the hell I was experiencing at that point in my life. I can’t even describe how close I was to being lost.

Thankfully, a close friend and a family member taught me how to pursue a new path: a spiritual one, where I began to see my struggles in a different light. Over about eight painful months, I started to see that despite my pain, I might be able to salvage a life that was worth living. Perhaps I couldn’t reassemble the broken pieces into what they used to be, but I realized that I could take the broken pieces and create a mosaic… perhaps something that was even better than what I started with before the war.

My new spiritual path proved to be far more desirable than the alternative: a drug-induced hollow life without meaning, but it was still difficult. I still experienced panic attacks regularly and was not able to do things that typical people do.

Jay and Adam in 2014, after they began their new path as healers.

Jay and Adam in 2014, after they began their new path as healers.

Six years after coming home I was introduced to Save A Warrior, which is without a doubt, the best solution for Warriors who are trying to recover after going to war. This organization has served hundreds of Warriors with Post Traumatic Stress, many of which experience suicidal ideation, but NONE of them have resorted to suicide after completing the program. If you want to know more about Save A Warrior, just take a look around the website.

For me, Save A Warrior has provided me with meaning, purpose, and long-term healing. I am feeling better now than I have for years, which I can attribute to a regular meditation practice that started at Save A Warrior. Numerous studies have shown that meditation can literally heal the brain, but the efforts to make meditation the central piece of recovery for Warriors is almost non-existent. This is a tragedy in itself, considering that it is the only medically proven solution to heal the brain from psychological trauma. Save A Warrior has also helped me to finally come to terms with my painful past, which is allowing me to shift my focus into a new battle: the fight for the lives of my fellow Warriors who are suffering.

Right now, there are 800,000 Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans who are suffering from Post Traumatic Stress (PTS). In comparison, 530,000 Vietnam Veterans were treated for PTS, and over 150,000 have committed suicide. Today, 22 Warriors will take their own lives and 8,000 will die by suicide this year. What we’re witnessing is an absolute epidemic of suicides. I rarely get on Facebook without finding out that another Warrior has taken his/her own life. It is beyond tragic, but I am hoping that this film will inspire people to do something about it.

If the film American Sniper struck you, touched your heart, and made you feel uneasy, then please don’t neglect those feelings. Let them move you into action, because what you witnessed is a reality, and it isn’t a reality that can be ignored without severe consequences. There is a suicide epidemic that is a result of these wars, but together, we can help put an end to it. In terms of dealing with Post Traumatic Stress, there is no equal to Save A Warrior. There are a lot of other programs out there, but most offer relief, which is only temporary. The reason that Save A Warrior is making such a profound difference is because it is combining and synthesizing a number of different approaches that are scientifically proven to increase resiliency. This program has THE answer to help save lives and create a long-term opportunity for healing. Please consider supporting this wonderful organization, knowing that you will make a difference in the lives of the Warriors who have sacrificed so much in service to others.

How Singing can Save our Warriors: Part 4

How Singing can Save our Warriors: Part 4

We have to admit it; along the path of development as a society we’ve lost touch with some important aspects of our humanity. Our ancestors lived in intimate communities where their “property” was aligned with that of their neighbors, in a way that allowed them to help each other. Many Native American tribes positioned their homes in a circle, so that they could protect the people of their community. Of course, there’s no need for us to live that way now because we aren’t at risk of being invaded. However, we are at risk of imploding. Because we’ve isolated ourselves and become self-focused, we’re at risk of losing touch with what it means to be fully alive.

The Apaches were defined by their duties to one another. Their identity as individuals depended on how they lived for the other people in their community. The importance of others outweighed the importance of self. 

How are we defined in this society? 

We like to define ourselves by what makes us feel most important. Sometimes, that’s a good thing; and sometimes, that’s a bad thing. It is important to ask yourself, “What have others come to expect of me?” and then to follow that question up with, “What should they expect of me?” If others expect less of you than you know they should, then you need to take action to correct that. Real men and real women don’t just take responsibility for the things they’re responsible for; they also take responsibility for the things they’re not responsible for. 

Unfortunately, we live in a society where grown adults won’t take responsibility for their actions or their circumstances (when applicable), probably because no one taught them how or, owing to a lack of faith, they fear that they will not survive the consequences. And as a consequence (perhaps of our fear of consequence), we’ve lost touch with one of the most fundamental aspects of the development of real men and women; the initiation.

Throughout history and on every continent, initiations into manhood or womanhood were essential to the development of responsible stakeholders in their respective societies. To become a man or woman, it is best if you endure an initiation of some kind, although it must meet certain criteria if it is to be effective. 

Initiations must contain two aspects. First, it must teach you what your role in society is. Historically, it taught men about the sacred act of hunting and protecting the community, while it taught women how to bear and raise children. The most important initiation for the Apaches was for young women, as women were regarded as the strongest and most important members of society. Secondly, an effective initiation must contain a spiritual element, which forces boys or girls to “die” to their childlike ways and begin life as a man or woman. The spiritual initiation must also help them to understand their mortality and their purpose and relationship to the world and their higher power. Worth noting about spiritual initiation: it should occur in sacred space with ritual elders who are completely trustworthy. 

At this point, you’re probably wondering what the heck all of this has to do with our Warriors and Post-Traumatic Stress. Well, everything, really.

Unfortunately, as Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airmen, we went through pseudo-initiations when we joined the military. We were taught to do things out of fear, rather than to feel fear and do it anyway – on faith. We were trained to numb ourselves and turn off our emotions, rather than to experience them and act despite their presence. Instead of being taught to rely on a power greater than ourselves (read faith), we were taught to rely on the US Military, which was bound to fail us from the start.

When we entered the initiatory field of battle, we experienced chaos and death. Because we were not initiated spiritually and lacked the maturity and guidance to deal with death, we demonized our enemy and let the rage drive us deeper into the darkness. We used our training to shut off the fear and sadness. When you numb one feeling, you numb all feelings, but only for a time. Eventually, all of that is bound to surface and when it does, it feels as if the whole world turns upside down. Panic, fear, and rage begin to dominate our emotions. (If you want to understand more about how war affects the brain, please read Part 1 of this series).

While there are important steps we can take to heal our brains, such as meditation, yoga, and prayer, we must also heal our souls. A spiritual experience and faith in a higher power are necessary for this type of healing. That’s one reason Save A Warrior (SAW) has been so much more effective than any other program for returning Warriors; the spiritual initiation and ritualized processes that occur there are uniquely designed to heal a Warrior’s soul.

Imagine it this way: As we Soldiers, Marines, Sailors, and Airman go through our military “initiations” in basic training, we are put through situations that teach us how to overcome trials of combat. Those situations range from basic rifle marksmanship, to the gas chamber, to road marches, to live fire exercises, to convoy training. We develop skills (shooting, moving, communicating) and learn to use tools (rifles, grenades, claymore mines, etc.) that will allow us to survive in combat. Also, we’re taught about our responsibilities (our respective creeds and general orders) and how to rely on the things we’ve learned so we can win battles.

Save A Warrior basically does the same thing: We go through an initiation that puts us in situations that teach us how to overcome the trials after combat. Those situations range from The Leap of Faith, to archetypal discovery, to Equine-Assisted Learning, meditative labyrinth walks, the preparation of mandalas (Jungian Depth Psychology), to rock climbing. We develop skills and learn to use tools (meditation, importance of 12-Step programs, importance of faith in a higher power, etc.). Also, we are taught about our responsibilities, which include the Five Pillars of Servant Leadership. It is important to note that what we learn at Save A Warrior shouldn’t be unique to the Warrior class. It could be taught to (and benefit) all men and women in our society.

We must continue our SERVICE to others. We must STUDY so we can continue to learn about what we face and how we can heal. We must CONTRIBUTE to causes because the giving of ourselves financially helps to turn the focus from ourselves towards others. We must practice ACKNOWLEDGEMENT because being grateful helps us to recognize all of the good things and people in our lives. Finally, we must practice PRAYER and/or AFFIRMATION because if we are to experience healing, we must rely on something greater than ourselves. These practices are crucial if we are to continue to grow spiritually.

Going through Save A Warrior and not practicing meditation – or the Five Pillars – after leaving one's Cohort would be like going through combat training and not using any of the skills or tools when you actually go to war. You must be proactive. You cannot sit and wait for the enemy to attack you, because you will lose the battle. Furthermore, not actively participating in a 12-step program or other Community Resiliency Models (CRM) after SAW would be like going through a close-quarters “shoot house” alone. You must train the way you fight, and you cannot fight – and win – alone. Seek out and find a community to heal with, and commit to it. You’ll find that the people within 12-Step programs are full of wisdom, and just being there helps you to learn and become a better person.

Community is essential. We all require support. I require support. I assert you require support. We all know people who require support. Without community, we lose our true identity. We lose ourselves.

The Apaches made an important distinction between the terms “Soldier” and “Warrior.” A Soldier is surrounded by other Soldiers. Their purpose is to fight, and from the Apache perspective, that was nothing to be proud of. On the other hand, a Warrior is surrounded by other men, women, and children, because their purpose is to serve and protect the community. They were defined by their duty to others. For all of us who have been through Save A Warrior, we have made the transition from Soldier, Marine, Sailor, or Airman, and now we are Warriors. Our purpose is not to fight: our purpose is to serve others.

Save A Warrior isn’t providing services or therapy to “troubled Veterans,” as I have heard some people say. Save A Warrior is producing Warriors; men and women, who are Servant Leaders defined by their collective duty to others. The initiatory process is one that heals heart, mind and spirit and teaches us what it means to be fully alive, even when we experience pain.

In his book, “What it is Like to Go to War,” returning Vietnam Warrior Karl Marlantes mentions an old Navajo story of two brothers who went on a journey to find their father, the Sun. When they found their father, he armed them, and they became Warriors and fought the wild monsters that threatened their tribe. The fighting changed these Warriors. Their energy changed. Paintings of the brothers showed them with bolts of lightning and vibrant energy coming off of them after they returned to their village. The community became afraid of the brothers because they had changed so much, so they told them to leave. However, a matriarchal figure called Sky Woman took them in and taught them to sing about their battles to the people. After the brothers began to sing, the people were no longer afraid and they invited them back home. Without learning how to process their trials and share about them in a constructive way, the Warriors would be lost. By learning to sing, however, they experienced healing.

Marlantes says this about the story, “This book is my song. Each and every one of us veterans must have a song to sing about our war before we can walk back into the community without everyone, including the king, quaking behind the walls. Perhaps it is drawing pictures or reciting poetry about the war. Perhaps it is getting together with a small group and telling stories. Perhaps it is dreaming about it and writing the dreams down and then telling people your dreams. But it isn’t enough just to do the art in solitude and sing the song alone. You must sing it to other people. Those who are afraid or uneasy must hear it. They must see the art. They must lose their fear. When the child asks, “What is it like to go to war?” to remain silent keeps you from coming home.” (Page 207).

For those of us fortunate enough to have been through Save A Warrior, we must learn how to sing in our own way. Singing is literally the best medicine for the Warrior’s spirit. 

A month ago, I had the privilege of experiencing the fullness of what it is like to truly sing. For months, I worked to develop a Save A Warrior Beta Cohort for Kansas City, Missouri. It wasn’t easy. There were moments of doubt and failure. It really challenged me, but I knew that my fellow Warriors’ lives were far too important for me to simply give up. I also knew that I had been called to do this, so I had faith that it was going to work.

When the weekend finally came, all of my anxieties melted away because my work was done. Now, it was time for my Creator to do the rest. It was a relief to finally have all of those Warriors in the room, along with our providers and Jake Clark, Creator and Executive Director of Save A Warrior. 

As the Project began and the Warriors started to open up, all of my hard work seemed worthwhile. However, there is nothing more beautiful than watching a Warrior come back to life after taking The Leap of Faith; and there is hardly anything more rewarding than having a Warrior hug you with tears in his eyes and whisper, “Thank you for saving my life.” 

Now that I have experienced what it is like to sing, I cannot cease. It is my medicine, my oxygen. Also, I cannot cease to participate in community with others on this parallel path of healing. It keeps me from my fixed way of being. Lastly, I cannot cease to practice my responsibilities to others, because this is what it means to be fully alive.