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Break Glass in Time of War

August 21, 2014 16 Comments

Break Glass in Time of War

Are you the kind of guy that most people don't get? Why are so many of our veterans committing suicide? Why are they so overwhelmed with depression? Simple... people don't understand them and it makes them crazy.

Do you have the ability to wade through huge amounts of stress, trauma and conflict and still be standing at the end of it? If so you are someone who should be put in a glass case and sedated, then when a violent confrontation happens to those that do not enjoy your company they can simply break the glass and let you out.

This is the perspective that many of my "friends" have exhibited over the years verbally and non-verbally when reviewing my personal life, careers, films or activities. Some of these activities I have chosen while others have selected me. Some of these people have even after a short contact left without a word. Why?

In a perfect world wouldn't it be nice if you could have constant protection and security as well as a cuddly and sensitive man who would tend to your every need, be domestic and attend every concert, recital and activity where the family is involved?

How does one break from the conflict of daily life or war where threats are numerated by the minute, and then fit into the seemingly calm non-threatening world that others see and feel? I submit that there is no such thing as a calm serene world, only the facade of the condition "I just don't see the threat." In my opinion the real world wants to eat you for dinner and barf up your bones.

For years I and men like me have tried to reconcile with not only God, but our fellow men on how to coexist with those around us who "just don't get it." Well... what don't they get and why?

First of all they don't understand the cost of providing not only the safety and freedoms they enjoy, but they often do not desire to interface with the genuine evil that exists in the world around them. They are the bystanders, that do not "want to interfere." They may catch a glimpse of world events on the news, or perhaps watch a TV show that has a challenging theme and think they have been made aware. While these examples may portray violence or even act out traumatic events, they are without the taste, touch or smell that is so prevalent in a real world encounter.

While we may want our families to be safe and to some degree immune to the harsh realities of this outside world where the kill-or-be-killed theme is the motto of the day, we also want them to appreciate that there is a breed of men that run towards the fight without acknowledging the risks. A group of folks that act upon injustice, or pull broken bodies out of rubble even though we may never have met them in person. We do this to not only shelter or protect our own children, but as a way to make the world a better place... to make a difference.

When we the warrior breed decide to act and the courage is mustered up to leave the safety of home. The preparation alone can be gruesome and life changing. Sometimes it takes years to prepare to meet the foe on the field of battle. The term "field of battle" is a metaphor for all of us who work in the military, police or rescue communities.

After initial training has been completed the warrior then enters the unforgiving world where the quick and the dead litter the landscape. Sometimes these events will be frequent and intense, other times they will be gaped and measured. Regardless of the frequency or the intensity of these events they tear at the very fabric of every soft and cuddly thing you have ever known. They create a sense of vulnerability and insecurity that only veterans of these scenes can appreciate completely. This is not to say that others do not experience traumas in life, in fact it is the opposite, because those who go into harm's way for others ALSO have personal traumas in the course of their lives. Compound these personal traumas with the conflicts in other lands, or the other events that are out of the realm of rational family topics, and you have the picture. In other words, you - the warrior - get the hard life experiences like everyone else... and those thrust upon you by your chosen profession or service.

Why do these experiences make you feel like you are an apple in a field of oranges? Simple... you withdraw from the world everyone else is living in because you simply can't understand it. You know it exists because you once lived there, you even felt safety and the joy of moving freely in a world where someone else was on guard and watching as a protector and a guardian. As you yourself become that very guardian things change... you can NEVER return to the safe place and must not only be on guard, but be prepared in every way to win the fight should it come... again.

This is a lot of information to absorb, and if you don't get it, or think I should be a "referral" to your local clinic, then just put me back in the glass case and "break it in time of conflict."

NOTE: Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) is a real issue and you should seek counsel if you agree with any portion of this letter :)

 

David "JAGER" Burnell
Founder & CEO
OPSGEAR, INC.

16 Responses

Phillip M Bainbridge
Phillip M Bainbridge

March 10, 2017

These are all things that we talk about in group and individual therapy. I lived for years in fear of the stigma and it tore my life apart. Therapy isn’t a cure, but it has saved my life!

Lawrence Muhr
Lawrence Muhr

March 02, 2017

At the end of your article, you issued a challenge relating to PTSD. I believe anyone who spent time in a combat zone had some “feelings” you described. I spent one year on land in South Viet Nam and have had some of these feelings. You also urge people to get help and this is what I wish to comment on. It seems the VA has opted to turn vets names over to the government and the vets have lost the right to have a gun. This is done without due process, I should add. Because of things like this, I suspect the doctors and nurses will not get honest answers, nor will civilian doctors if they ask about gun ownership. It is too bad but I believe this is how it will go. There is quite a quandary here!

Bonesatcrete
Bonesatcrete

March 01, 2017

May God bless and watch over you. Thank you for my freedom. Any time I get to Salt Lake City I try to go by just to walk in. I always feel the strength you all give. Hang tough.

AT2 Daniel McAlexander
AT2 Daniel McAlexander

March 01, 2017

Right on the money. I don’t consider myself PTSD but I do feel a certain disconnect with the average civilian.They don’t seem to understand the concept of “if you stand with me you never stand alone.” I spent fifteen years serving with my brothers and sisters in two services and now I always seem to be the oddball. But the oddball they call when the car is broken down or they need a ride home from the bar. I wouldn’t have it any other way if they don’t appreciate us for what we are it’s on them. I for one am proud to spend some time with a fellow service member even if they were in another service if they want to share a sea story with me no problem.

Mike Lilla
Mike Lilla

March 01, 2017

Well stated my friend………………De oppresso liber.

James Fries
James Fries

March 01, 2017

Fantastic artical Mr. Burnell. I have PTSD and for a period of 13 years or so I was it’s bitch. But after some serious life intervention from the man above, and a nearly a dozen County Sheriff’s Deputy’s (I took the first 4 down) and their poor dog (that I unfortunately knoxed out) in the end I got 6 years of opportunity to think about my actions. However, I might not be here today if those events hadn’t of happened. I fully believe the only reason I didn’t get shot the night I had my interaction with the Deputy’s was because my sister (who was also a Deputy) and on duty at the time in the Control/Dispatch room on the radio with the Deputy’s prior to shit going south telling them about my PTSD.

Since then I’ve chosen to not be a victim of PTSD by knowing my Red Flags / Triggers.
I have found ways to vent my frustrations/anger in healthy ways.
I go shooting a lot now.
I realized that getting help for my issues saves me from spending time in Jail or Prison.
Getting help also helped me to deal with the pain that I been stuffing down since I was a kid from all sorts of crap which helped me become OK with just having a drink or 2 and staying incontrol instead of 26 and thinking I was still incontrol.
I eventually got my Felony deleted, again I believe it was by the grace of God.
I then went to college and got my BS which I completed in 3.5 years and then I went to grad school and got my Masters in Clinical Social Work.
I spent 6 years at my local Vet Center engaged in cofaciltating veteran groups and doing individual therapy as a intern and volunteer therapist all of which did me as much good as it did for my brother’s and sister’s.

Now I’m still very much that put in the glass box until time of war kind of guy and I still scare the fuck out of a lot people, sometimes I do it intentionally. Sometimes I’m just an asshole and I’m thankful my wife puts up with it. But in my mind you can’t keep the wolves out of the sheep by keeping the sheep dogs locked up in the kennel. So I’m out being vigilant, preparing, practicing, and most of all making PTSD my bitch.

James L Fries, LMSW
Therapist
100% Disabled Army Veteran

JESUS ARREDONDO
JESUS ARREDONDO

March 01, 2017

My words will fail, so I will quote something I heard: “Ideals are peaceful, but history (and I would add, ‘reality’) is violent.” I don’t remember where I heard it, or who said it — so apologies for failing to give the proper credit here… But to be sure, and to your essay, I would say, our country needs people like us — like you, Brother… The ones who heard or hear the voice and the question: “Who will go for us? Whom shall I send? And I said, HERE AM I, Lord. SEND ME.” Isaiah 6:8 Thank you for all you do Mr. Burnell and congratulations on an awesome business. J. Arredondo, US Army Ret. Hooah!

Michael Lawrence
Michael Lawrence

October 22, 2015

Dear Mr. Burnell,

I am a “disabled” veteran who is under this PTSD category. I wondered if what you write about is a creative way of breaking from many illusions prescribed to us as children, teenagers, etc. “Why do these experiences make you feel like you are an apple in a field of oranges? Simple… you withdraw from the world everyone else is living in because you simply can’t understand it.” you wrote. Perhaps we no longer understand it because we have began to question the assumptions we once took for granted. I enjoyed reading this and hope to hear from you in the future.

Rich Lippincott
Rich Lippincott

September 17, 2015

Thanks!

Doug
Doug

September 16, 2015

Thank you for your service and thanks for all you have done and continue to do.

Greg. Gordon
Greg. Gordon

September 10, 2015

Well said Mr Burnell. I’ve often been told the same that I have a glass wall around. Me. But. Anytime but I’m the first one they call when WSHTF so be it I wouldn’t have it any other way. SEMPER. fI. Live free or. Die.

Sean
Sean

September 10, 2015

I agree with a lot of points in your article, old or not, it is still extremely relavent. However, most guys with PTSD won’t get help, I personally think it’s the stigma placed upon us from that “safe” world that we are forced to interact with. I refuse to be labeled and then hamstrung by a water fat civilian that does not “get it”. I still have night terrors and trouble with even small crowds, but I can’t get help because in 10 years when I apply for a job and they assume I can’t function because I was labeled with PTSD.

Rich Martin
Rich Martin

September 10, 2015

Awesome editoral. It is very accurate. Unfortunately most young people, and some baby boomers don’t get it. They don’t care, they have their protected environment, protected by dedicated soldiers, police, firefighters and paramedics. I serviced one tour in Vietnam, only two people asked me about it when I returned to the world. They were ladies in their seventies who had lived through WWII. Nearly every once else saw us as drug addicts or murderers. Thankfully present day veterans are for the most part welcomed home and appreciated. More veterans will be created in the future when we deal with ISIS, lets hope they are appreciated.

Walter
Walter

September 10, 2015

This is actually very insightful.

SCott
SCott

September 10, 2015

Spot on brother…
DOL/RLTW

Don Reynerson
Don Reynerson

September 10, 2015

Thanks David…..

LCDR USN RET…MM1SS. VN COMBAT VET
I get it fully……live at 9000feet West of Denver…….peaceful here.

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