by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D
It is a slow Sunday afternoon. One of those undemanding days when there is not much pressing to do; this leaves some time to spend on whatever catches my fancy. Tony has taken his four-legged children on a short fishing trip, allowing me some REAL personal time. Since there are several decent movies showing, I decided to go to a film called The Way. It is the story about a father, Martin Sheen, who takes over a journey his dead son began. The task was walking a trail from France to a sacred place in Spain. Unfortunately, the son died in an accident his first day out. Of course, the deeper meaning of any such trek is a journey in finding oneself, whether that test is religious, career oriented, healing, or simply the trial to see if one can achieve such an arduous hike.
So I got to thinking while watching the movie, what is the Way of a Warrior? Is it a way of violence, death and suffering? Is it a way of courage and sacrifice? Is a warrior’s way a way of freedom? Perhaps a warrior’s true north is a way of Faith. Whatever the answer, one thing is certain; the way of a warrior is not easy and definitely not glamorous. More often than not, war makes it even more difficult for the warrior to find his or her way back to any kind of normality and trust of humanity. Finding the way back can be a lifetime journey for many past and present combatants.
One line in the film was pretty reflective, “Life is not about the career you choose but the life you’ve lived”. There can be no doubt that most warriors have lived a variety of lives in one short life time. They have lived the life of a warrior, a friend, a son, a father, a husband, a shattered soul, and a triumphant being. What then will be the rest of a life lived for a warrior? What will be his/her remaining Way?
It is my hope the remaining days of every warrior’s way will be softer, kinder and more peace filled. For those who have suffered years of sadness and remorse, may the new way be one of forgiveness and acceptance. During this Holiday Season and anticipation of a New Year, may every person find a special Way to give of themselves in some endeavor that makes a difference… adopt an animal from a shelter, smile and acknowledge that homeless person on the corner of your downtown street, or simply say a silent prayer for another soul in need of comfort.
During this season of reflection, find your own unique, individual Way to live with greater joy, less suffering, and fewer reminders of the demons that may have accompanied you home from combat. You and your family deserve a prosperous Way of living each and every one of your future days. Begin NOW!
by Janet J. Seahorn, Ph.D
There are few things in life that can take your mind off trouble more than a special day on a beautiful river. Last week the Platte Valley Trout Unlimited Chapter located in Saratoga, Wyoming had the opportunity to take a group of wounded veterans from the Cheyenne VA Medical Center on just such a trip. The excursion began with an amazing barbecue put on by members of the chapter and local volunteers. It seemed like almost everyone in the community wanted to contribute something from ice cream to napkins. Children from 4-H served food, helped clean up, and simply added their youthful energy to the evening.
The next morning began early with breakfast which proved there is nothing wrong with a warrior’s appetite. Then off to the river, which is a logistical bussle of shuttling boats, equipment and people to one of the river’s launch site. Vice-President and project coordinator of the Trout Unlimited Chapter, Steve Hays, was a bundle of nerves as he wanted to make sure every detail of this event went perfectly. Again, all the shuttle drivers, helpers, boats, and guides donated their time and efforts to making the fishing trip an amazing experience.
The guardian angels of fishing trips could not have arranged a more beautiful day for a float. The water was dazzling with light, birds seemed to have arranged their chorus of unique songs for entertainment, and even the fish were cooperative. Private angling lessons were given throughout the day which proved to be quite successful for most of the veterans. Two warriors demonstrated their angling abilities by catching ten or more fish. Since the North Platte River has been running at flood stage since mid-May, having the water and its inhabitants somewhat normal was a real gift.
Yet, the most significant result of the float trip was its therapeutic benefits to the wounded warriors. Most of the group had not known each other before the overnight trip. What they found from these precious, short twenty-four hours is recorded in their comments below:
- I can’t believe people care that much about us.
- I had no idea other veterans continue to struggle with PTSD; I thought I was just weak.
- I really needed this… it’s been a long time since I felt I could relax and feel safe.
- The whole experience has been a true blessing.
- This is what makes healing happen.
- That was one of the best days of my life.
Formal therapy can and is very helpful to many military individuals healing from the trauma of combat. But it is only one ingredient of the recipe. Being with others who have suffered similar wounds, knowing that others care and appreciate their sacrifices and experiencing the beauty and serenity of nature offers one a sense of peace, safety, and the faith that perhaps some divine presence may truly be keeping watch over them.
Yep, Fishing Therapy… the new, ground-breaking, effective line of defense against the scars of war.