A CNN special news report on February 2, 2019 drew national attention to the increasing suicide rates in 2018 of military personnel assigned to US Special Operations Command (SOCOM). The US Government and Department of Veterans Affairs are miffed, as they attempt to tackle what appears to be an epidemic, now plaguing what once touted as an “invincible” group of men and women. No doubt that our Special Forces are the most highly trained, skilled, and ready group within our Armed Forces, but make no mistake, at the end of the mission they remain human beings. And despite all illusions, every good human being has a breaking point; open to Moral Injury and post traumatic stress responses.
SOCOM Spokesman Kenneth McGraw in discussing newer training that is meant to guard against Moral Injury told CNN,
“The training we have developed is intended to teach skills that help participants recognize inflexible, rigid thought patterns and to substitute those patterns of thinking with more adaptable thoughts,” McGraw said.
The training is heavily based in cognitive behavior therapy, and is designed to provide benefit to any participant regardless of their risk for suicide.
Here again, another ineffective and superficial example of simply changing one’s thoughts and negative beliefs about an event or experience can mitigate psychological wounding in war. Avoidance and suppression of human emotion is actually dangerous, and often its consequences come years after the traumatic events. Denial and psychic numbing are natural results of human suffering, but need to be processed if healing is to occur. The Center for Post Traumatic Growth addresses the underlying unresolved grief, guilt, and shame due to loss and certain required acts due to war. We say to our veterans who come through phase one of our core program, “You can’t think your way out of trauma.”