Re: the musings of Panhandle Rancher

The following was sent in related to the post “Real Gunfighter” written by The Panhandle Rancher:


I’m a combat wounded medically retired Marine Lt Col. I have 5 combat operations in my OQR. I was in Thailand for the coup in 92, Cuba for the Haitian refugee riots in 93, Somalia in 94, the invasion of Haiti in 94, and then Iraq in 04, including the 2nd battle of Fallujah.

I was blown up by an RPG in the close quarters battle on Nov 11th 2004. I had a series of concussions caused by IED blasts.

I was medically retired after spending a couple of years in a holding unit that eventually became the Marine Corps Wounded Warrior regiment.

Now I help wounded and disabled veterans.

PTSD absolutely existed in WW II. Also in WW I and the Civil War. Yes they called it different names….PTSD didn’t become a medical diagnosis until 1980. There is significant evidence that PTSD existed at least as far back as the Ancient Greeks. Athens recognized the condition.There is a physiological component to PTSD – a series of neurological and endocrinal responses to which the writer is referring. Once the brain reacts to specific stimuli that way, those responses can be mitigated but not undone. That is why he needed more and more adrenaline for the same thing. It specifically stimulates the same part of the brain where addiction occurs, creating the same neuro-feedback loop.

We warriors…we happy few…know things that civilians can never know, no matter how many war movies they watch or how many books they read. They experience vicariously what we lived through.We are keepers of a solemn truth about what it takes to protect a society – and we share that with every other society in history. This is why I speak frequently, particularly to high school students. Ironic, because I did two tours on recruiting duty for the Marine Corps. He’s right, the recruiters don’t tell you those things…but how could they? Most people in the military – even if they have been boots on the ground downrange – are actually never in combat. This is the so-called tooth-to-tail ratio. Anywhere from 10 to 20 support personnel for every warrior actually engaged with the enemy. More than 2.8 million service members have served in a combat theater in Iraq, Afghanistan or North Africa since 9/11. At best, about 500 – 600k have actually been engaged with the enemy. Interestingly, this coincides roughly with estimates of # of service members with TBI and/or PTSD.

The current term for describing what happens when you kill in combat “moral injury”because our society had created such a powerful taboo not just against killing but against personal violence. The military is brilliant at teaching and training the mechanics of how to kill , but not at how to live with the consequences. Personally, I found killing destroys the ability to feel joy or take pleasure in anything. I find this to be a common complaint among the post 9/11 combat veterans I work with.

There is a military protocol to mitigate the consequences of battlefield moral injury. It’s called battlefield traumatic event management. But it almost never happens.

There are a few books that I found essential to my recovery and my understanding of my experience of combat and it’s aftermath. I can recommend the following

War and the Soul by Edward Tick. Absolutely essential reading.

Odysseus in America by Jonathan Shays – also essential

War Trauma and Its Wake and its companion Healing War Trauma by Ray Scurfield and Kathy Platoni

Stoic Warriors: The Ancient Philosophy behind Modern Warriors by Nancy Sherman. No better explanation for why modern warriors are so “out of sync” with modern society – not just in the US, but Western Civilization.

On Killing by Dave Grossman Lt Col US Army (ret). I can also recommend his companion piece On Combat, but it is not essential reading.

After the Battle, the Trauma Begins by Nigel Mumford. FR Nigel was a Royal Marine who did combat tours in Northern Ireland and Cyprus in the 1970s and was wounded. He was subsequently called by Christ to start a healing ministry specifically for combat veterans, called By His Wounds Ministry. No one in the country is better at addressing the spiritual wounds of war than Fr Nigel.

semper fi


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10 thoughts on “Re: the musings of Panhandle Rancher”

  1. I am not a combat veteran, but my Son is. He did a year in Afghanistan patrolling at FOBs and training the Afghani police. He had IEDs blow up under his Mrap three different times. Was chased by the Taliban through the mountains, and saw plenty of combat. He came back on leave after about three months and he was spooky. He had that “thousand yard stare” that you hear so much about. ANY noise would send him into “fight/flight”. Could NOT drive in heavy traffic, when we stopped in traffic with cars all around us, you could see him start to freak out.

    When he came home after a year, they had given him a bit of time to decompress before the trip back, but he was still spooky for about 4 months. He finished his hitch with 3 years as a recruiter, which he despised, but was very good at. He is now out after 8 years and has a job, a wife and new Son. He is doing well, but as you said, it never goes completely away. His wife tells me he wakes a night screaming sometimes.


  2. re Dr Edward Tick- he has done work with veterans.He personally was never in any combat nor a veteran himself-just wanted to clarify this.
    He has a PHD in Communications. He is very good at doing therapy with the dark, deep places . He and I worked with people,some vets, utilizing the Native American sweat lodge as a sacred experience for healing many years ago.
    I believe that veterans and anyone having problems should avail themselves of a Psychiatrist, a therapist, support groups, faith resources and friends and family if available.
    Texas scout-my heart and prayers gop out to you and your son and family. Arlene

  3. M.
    We had PTSD as diagnosis back in the 60s & 70s. Unfortunately, this degenerated into a psych disorder like schizophrenia or something similar so the person could be chemically restrained (made more acceptable to polite society). About the only good things that came out of the psych diagnosis were the individuals qualified for 70+% VA & Disability ratings so they could live(?) in the post VN society. A good solution? For some, but a lot fell through the cracks.
    I sincerely hope the folks at the VA and services are allowed to learn the lessons that VN presented to society and not fall back into the ‘one size fits all’ mentality for treatment that will continue for decades.
    Thanks for keeping up with your guys.

    Semper fi,

  4. PTSD isn’t just for military combat people…sometimes men (and women) who suffer violence (abuse etc.) find this demon chasing them also. Know somebody who is there and he’s always “on alert” and ready to fight…even though he’s been diagnosed with PTSD and receive medication…but no mental therapy 🙁

  5. You ratios of logistical personnel to Triggers is correct. I spent some time with “B” Teams. I spent two weeks in debriefing before they will let me back home. If I refused to see the head Dr, they were not going to let me go home. I also agree with WE2 that there are disorders of varying degrees for those who suffered as victims. I have a niece now 30 years old who I helped deliver. Her father molested her when she was a little girl, both her and her mom (my sister) took counseling for a few years. She is not the same girl she was and never will, somethings you can’t give back. She is still special to me. The family has come to terms with it, except me. Her father has no place on this planet to me and I am more then happy to remove him from it. I only hold back because my sister stopped me from taking care of it. She told me your daughter will need her uncle to be there for her and not behind bars.

  6. Badger359 I can understand your feelings re: this situation.Your sister is correct. She and your niece need you . Sexual abuse is a harsh experience- especially when its a relative that one is supposed to be able to trust.I hope someday that your sister and niece can press charges and send him to jail.My heart goes out to you and your loved ones.With prayers, Arlene

  7. Coming from family of Military Veterans, and having done medical Contract WAR RELATED work, overseas. I am CONVINCED: When the WEALTHY /Weapons Makers-Sellers/Politicians and THEIR Children/ Gr. Children HAVE TO GO TO WAR, there WILL BE NO MORE WARS! It seems to have BECOME a SICK Nusiness of $$$$ Profits /FEAR/CONTROL> Various Countries “ENEMIES” 1 year or decade, then “ALLIES/TRADE PARTNERS ” the NEXT! So the REASONS for ALL the DEATHS (On both sides) was ……………..?!!!!

  8. Dr S.A.M-If the stockholders of toxic products such ad fracking and asbestos, roundup, GMOs etc. had to live with contaminated water supplies and illness they would stop production.However greed is the sin. Arlene

  9. [quote] I am CONVINCED: When the WEALTHY /Weapons Makers-Sellers/Politicians and THEIR Children/ Gr. Children HAVE TO GO TO WAR, there WILL BE NO MORE WARS![/quote]

    Wish it were so! From the revolution to the end of the draft, those of means have dodged that particular bullet. Politics aside, the only arguably good thing are advances in medicine- from casualty treatment including mental wounds.

    On a different note, PTSD, TBI etc. is also part of everyday life transactions. The danger of these wounds is their definitions as twisted against the suffer to deny their Rights either without judicial relief (administrative actions a la VA etc) or legislatively- a la current states and congressional debates. Every person is an individual and should be evaluated as such.


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