By Robert S. Brown, MD, PhD, Staff Psychiatrist, Department of Behavioral Health, KAHCMarch 8, 2013
FORT LEE, Va. (March 7, 2013) -- "Wars may be fought with weapons, but they are won by men. It is the spirit of the men who follow and of the man who leads that gains the victory"
-- Gen. George Patton
"To this end, it is the duty of commanding officers in every echelon to develop to the highest degree the conditions and influences calculated to promote health, morals and spiritual values of the personnel under their command."
-- Gen. George C. Marshall
"Leadership is a potent combination of strategy and character. But if you have to be without one, be without strategy."
-- Gen. Norman Schwartzkopf
The Army has long acknowledged the importance of the spiritual welfare of its Soldiers.
Perhaps because of the recent decade of combat in two countries, the Army has renewed its interest in matters of the spirit. Currently, for example, the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness Program gives preeminence to the spiritual domain. It is also identified as a critical element of the Army Resiliency Program.
A line in "Scent of a Woman," a movie vividly depicting an Army officer with untreated post-traumatic stress disorder from deployment to Vietnam, said, "there is no prosthesis for an amputated spirit." Combating terrorism is, at its least, spiritually taxing. For some of our Soldiers, it leads to painful despair that well may be partly spiritual; despair requiring support to regain spiritual health.
Ancient Greek philosophy, from which our concept of democracy is derived, held a tripartite view of human beings, that each person has a mind, a body and a spirit. Our spiritual nature is difficult to define. It is too often neglected. Sadly, our spiritual nature may bring us our worst misery, for example, when it is high-jacked by the radically religious.
On the other hand, "healthy minded religion," as defined by William James a century ago, may be one of our greatest sources of joy.
"It is what it is" is one of the common sayings of our time. However, it is important to realize that the meaning we give to our experiences determines its effects upon us. It is never "it is what it is." It is always what it means to us. Some of the most vital meanings we give to our encounters come from our spiritual values.
We believe our Post-Deployment Spiritual Domain Group Therapy provides a unique opportunity for Soldiers to thoughtfully reflect upon the impact of combat on their deeply held beliefs; the value of meaningful spiritual health; and the identification and application of resources to help reduce the inconsistency between what a Soldier believes is ethically correct and morally right and how the Soldiers lives his or her life day to day.
In a word, Soldiers in this group will learn how to soothe an injured or damaged spirit as they reestablish strong attachments with each other.
The Post-Deployment Spiritual Domain Group meets in the Department of Behavioral Health Wednesdays, 2-3:30 p.m., and is led by me. The group also may be co-led by Dr. James E. Walker, program manager, Provider Resiliency, and Gloria Trainor.
To enroll in our Spiritual Domain Group, call (804) 734-9623. This low pressure, relaxing group, where one can listen or speak when and as one chooses, welcomes post-deployment Soldiers. All behavioral health records are confidential, identified as "sensitive" and protected.
Robert S. Brown, MD, PhD, Staff Psychiatrist, Department of Behavioral Health, KAHC