Sunday, January 9, 2011

Combat Veterans and Anger Management

I don't know if this story is even worthy to be looked at by your blog. Besides the possibility of being printed in some format. The story is true and factual. It's a tragedy that has nowhere to go but upwards. This issue at hand has affected several Combat Veterans including myself, from WWII to OIF / OEF. There is help out there through the Veterans Administration.

Combat Veterans and Anger Management
I am writing this article for all my fellow Veterans. As the person who is going through this difficult task, I feel I am obligated to share this with my fellow Veterans. Some may read and think this article is written out of weakness. That's a mood point, because this article deals with real life issues and the help available from the VA. This article is written on behalf of all our faithful Veterans. Especially, to those who have served our nation in wartime. The piece is written to make aware what help our Veterans Administration Hospitals truly provide in area's of Post Traumatic Stress and combat related counseling. I personally have always been a skeptic when it came to dealing with the Veterans Administration Hospital System. Even though I have utilized their medical care throughout the years. A recent crisis struck home and I came to fruition that the VA does really care and wants to help. They are professionals and understand Veterans issues. They are experts in fields of combat stress and anger-management issues caused by combat related problems. They are there for the support concerning all counseling issues. Even those that might have existed prior to joining the military or had been enhanced due to a combat related experience. The VA system is prepared to meet the needs and concerns when it comes to counseling and supporting those that have experienced trauma due to their combat military service. I am writing this in awe, to say thank you to the Veterans Administration for being there for me in this crisis. I was always to ashamed to admit my fears and concerns out of pure pride. I have bottled up my anger-management issues for years. I was to afraid to seek the real help I always needed. Why one may ask? Ignorance, pride? Both could be the answer. I am writing my fellow Veterans this, in a two-fold breakdown. One, never estimate the help our Veterans Administration Hospitals can offer. Two, don't assume as I did, that one can overcome the issue by themselves. I am caught up in the second tier.

Some say I am an educated man. One who should know better. One who had specialized training to know what support systems the VA offers. I hold a Master Degree from an ATS / regional accredited Seminary in Kentucky and a Bachelors and Associate Degree from a Regional Accredited University / Community College in Ohio. The answer is, I did not. Instead, I was not the Christian Husband, Father, Army Reserve Chaplain, Pastor and Man I should of been. I should have sought out the needed support for my combat related issue(s) long ago. Way before I was married in the 1990's. But refused.

A few days before this past 2010 Christmas, my family left me due to my anger management issues. I have seen anger-management turn my life totally upside down. I have seen it ruin relationships, cause problems in my ministry and bring crisis to my own walk in life. The issue has caused financial struggles, personal struggles, and spiritual struggles within my life. Especially, my spiritual walk. I deployed recently over five years from 1999-thru-2008 as an Army Chaplain. In Desert Storm I served in Field Artillery as an enlisted NCO. During many deployments and mobilizations, I have helped many with the same like issues as an Army Reserve Chaplain on active duty deployments. My problem was, that I was just to afraid to admit and seek counseling for myself, due to being an Army Care Giver and Commissioned Officer. In 2008, my family left me due to the same issues. I reached out to a well known church within the Ross County, Ohio Community. The Pastor had previous Vietnam Combat experience himself. I thought to myself, here we go, I was finally prepared to sit down with someone and share my issues that he might be able to relate and offer true direction from his past experiences. Instead, I was referred to an elderly assistant pastor by him who had the best intentions but really did not understand where I was at the time and what I was going through. I was also seeing a VA counselor at the same time, but was to ashamed to open up and share all my issues at hand. After a few months and being given the feeling that the senior pastor who had served in combat was not interested in me, I just gave up. One faithful member of that church tried to keep me focused, by partaking in the local men's prayer groups within the community. He was a true mentor who I believe was walking his faith. This gentlemen is well respected and owns a Christian business in the local area. In the long run, I left, feeling I was not worthy to be accepted or talked to by the senior pastor. Selfish and ignorant on my part, but true. I am not seeking sympathy or compassion concerning this written article. You see, I had to hit rock bottom this time before I realized I needed to get help for my combat related issues and become whole for myself. I was tired of the hurt, denial, emotions, rejection, ruined relationships, and the blame game. In the process, I have lost my family, my home and my dignity. Today, I am homeless due to my prior in action. I have come to the conclusion, no matter what, I am at fault and take full responsibility for my failure to seek the actual support needed in my life years ago. Last week, I started the process to become whole, seeking transformation for the first time in my life, with the help of the Veterans Administration Hospital and their staff. I have started individual professional counseling and entered group therapy. I have put my pride aside, accepting medical support for my issue as well. In these two weeks, that I have spent away from my family, I have also drawn closer in my faith for the first time in 15 years. I have reached out to two wonderful Christian ministers in the area. One minister I have known for years and the other I have respected over the past decade for his stature within the community.

What I am trying to convey to all my Veteran colleagues that might be having the same type of issues is this. It's never to late. This is an earnest and forthright account. Don't follow the example in desperation, but one of inspiration. If one needs support due to anger-management issues that are curtailed to combat related problems, go and get the help needed. I say this, especially to those that are married and have families. Today, I have only talked to my children a few times via the telephone. That part has crushed me. Due to my insistence and pride, I thought I could handle my combat related issues on my own. I was wrong. By my in actions to seek help, I failed myself and those who depended on me. Especially my loved ones, my family. My prayer is this, that the message will strike the hearts of those Veterans and their families that might be experiencing the same situations in their life right now. My hope is, they will act to seek the support needed. Don't be ashamed, don't be embarrassed.

I have struggled with my anger triggers related to combat issues for almost 20 years. Serving as an Army Reserve Chaplain and being mobilized, opened some of those issues back up while deployed. I have seen several little children die in Honduras and El Salvador due to car accidents and disease at a site I was posted at a few years back. I was on the scene with two Air Force Officers, they both were killed in Honduras in a traffic accident. One was a single mother who was bragging about her children just minutes prior to leaving the compound and then dying in an accident. As I looked at their mangled bodies in the make-shift morgue, I thought back to those in Iraq that were dead during Desert Storm and then wondered, what will become of the Female Officers children who had just died in the accident? I have seen Soldiers returning home from Iraq and Afghanistan commit suicide. Over several issues. Divorce, their Army Career being cut short due to combat injuries, PTSD, etc, etc. One was an outstanding Soldier that no one ever expected to carry out such an act. He blew his head off with a shot gun at Ft. Sill, OK. While serving in Desert Storm, I saw what destruction Field Artillery White Phosphorus Shells could do. Especially to the human body, burning Iraqi Soldiers to death as they were retreating back into Iraq from Kuwait. I saw the destruction of humanity with women and children that had been killed by Iraqi' Soldiers. That is one part for my calling into ministry, so that I could be a person of peace and serve God in love.

Right now I see nothing in my life but despair. I have almost given up hope at times, but with that stated, I know somewhere, somehow, God is in the midst of all of this mess that I have created. Maybe I am just being to hard on myself. I know I am just a mere mortal subject to the " IMPRINTING " of war. Nothing new about that within the military community. Especially, those that have served in combat. I do have the insight as to what path to follow, while painful now, I hope to find SERENITY, maybe even happiness, at least that is what I have promised God. I will continue to tap my spiritual entity and try not wavier. I know I must continue to listen to the CENTER of my heart. That is, to become whole. I pray in some means, God will hear my prayer to be made whole. Who knows? Maybe one day, God will utilize me to support Veterans by some means, sharing my story and offering a way to overcome their Combat Trauma.

In closing, by my in actions, I let the only ones that truly loved me, down in life. My message to the married Veterans is this, there is nothing on this planet that can take the place of a precious family. The VA is there and prepared to do their part to assist and support those in crisis and need. Don't be one of in action, but rather one of action.


Kevin B. Compston, CH(CPT) USAR Retired

A Desert Storm Combat Veteran