Action 99

I reset my “moral compass” and refocus on my core values, beliefs and life aspirations. I can call upon my warrior ethos that I was trained to use. Remember the seven core values, “loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity, and personal courage,” cited in the US Army Field Manual. “These values are ingrained in me and no matter what happens when I am deployed, they will never be lost. This is what I am bringing home with me.” I knew my best chance of staying alive was keeping my buddies alive. I became my “brother’s keeper.” I was steeped in a culture of courage, comradeship of a deep and everlasting bond.

Useful Information

When treatments are helpful to returning service members with PTSD and related difficulties, these interventions work in large part by helping them retrieve positive memories and use coping strategies that are in competition with negative memories. Treatment helps returning warriors appreciate the strengths, courage, adaptability and resilience that they brought home from deployment.

Quotable Quotes

“Courage requires knowing and feeling the anguish of loss.”

—Aristotle

“The happy warrior is diligent to learn and abides by his resolve and stops not there. He is able to endure as more exposed to suffering and distress; thence more alive to tenderness.”

—William Wordsworth (as cited by Nancy Sherman, 2010)

“As a result of this traumatic experience, I have learned that I have to get my ‘moral muscles’ in shape by exercising them regularly.”

“Let me tell you some of the positive things about being in Iraq. I developed deep friendships and I know I would choose to die to protect my buddies and they

would do the same for me. I had a powerful sense of mission and purpose. I was able to help those in need. Saving lives, playing with the kids, helping build a school, giving out meds, these are some of things that stay with me.”

—Anonymous Service Member

“The men who fought the Battle of Midway in World War II had no right to win. Yet they did, and in doing so they changed the course of the war . . . even against the greatest of odds. There is something in the human spirit—a magic blend of skill, faith and valor—that can lift men from certain defeat to incredible victory.”

—Walter Lord (1993)

What did you bring home from your deployment? These resilient skills can be called upon to deal with the challenges of reintegration. It is like learning to ride a two wheel bike. You may not bike ride for a long time, but you never quite forget. You may get rusty or forget you have these skills, but your balance can be called upon and be redeveloped.

Can you give examples of each of these survival behaviors and values you brought home from deployment?

The values that contribute to the foundation for resilience are described in the acronym “H-SLIDER.”

H—Honor means: Hard work; Honesty; Humility; Hardiness; Withstanding of hardships

S—Selfless Service means: Sacrifice; Subordinate self to the group; Courage and accountability to one’s comrades which is more powerful than self; Preservation/self-regulation/self-reliance/self-discipline/self-reflection and a sense of purpose; Devotion to Duty, Teamwork and Pride

L—Loyalty means: Brotherhood; Closeness; Commitment to your unit; Development of a “Band of Brothers/Sisters” bond; Values and traditions of warriorhood; Identification with group, service and country; Positive effects due to feelings of belongingness; Strong bonds and camaraderie with those who have served; Looking out for others; Leadership and teamwork

I—Integrity means: Grit; Leadership; Commitment to a higher cause; Patriotism

D—Duty means: Dedication; Determination; Discipline; Sense of Responsibility to others; Commitment to mission accomplishment; Tactical awareness; Mental focus and learned safety habits; Ability to be clear-minded, strategic, alert, pro-active and optimistic

E—Excellence means: Bravery; Confidence; Controlled aggression; Adaptability; Valor; Knowledge of how precious and fragile life is; Development of a broader perspective on life

R—Respect means: Readiness; Responsibility; Robustness and resilience

Remember the Warrior Ethos:

I will always place the Mission first. I will never accept defeat. I will never quit. I will never leave a fallen comrade.

Your answers to the following Hinge Questions address how these values have become part of you, been internalized, and can guide your reintegration process and bolster your resilience.

  • “What core values and strengths did you develop as a member of the military?”
  • “How can these core values and your strengths contribute to your mission of reintegrating into civilian life, ongoing service, and to your reaching your personal goals?”
  • “How are you using your core values and strengths to build strong relationships?’’
  • “Which of these core values do you wish to instill in your children and other family members?”
  • “How can you help your fellow citizens develop and practice these core values?”
  • “How can you make a ‘gift’ of these core values to others?”
  • Can you give examples of each of the “H-SLIDER” values and skills that you brought home from deployment or that you developed as a result of your trauma experience?

Action 100