Sunday, February 3, 2013

What makes the difference?

As I sit here getting ready to watch the Superbowl there is one question that keeps nagging at my mind. Like many who follow the Special Operations world, I was stunned by the news that Navy SEAL and sniper extra ordinary Chris Kyle was killed. What shocked me even more was to find out that the person who killed him was a young man Kyle was trying to help deal with PTSD. Personally I have always been puzzled by this condition.

How is it that two people can go through the same hellish conditions and come out so different. Chris Kyle served numerous tours in Iraq and by all accounts he was involved in every major battle there. Among his awards and decorations are two Silver Stars, five Bronze Stars, numerous Purple Hearts and who knows what else, yet by all accounts he was a committed family man who gave much of himself back to the military community. I don't know the man other than his public persona, yet every time I saw him, he came across as the epitome of a humble man. In my own life I have known and served with men who spent years in some of the worst hell holes of their generation. Many of them were straight forward about their experiences while others were haunted by them. Is there some secret ingredient that gives one the strength to overcome almost any trial that is put in their path?

There is no doubt in my mind that PTSD is a very real problem, and that it affects many who have suffered through traumatic experiences of all kinds. What I struggle with is how do we find the key that allows some to deal with the trauma and rise above it, while others are destroyed by it. I don't have any answers, I can only give thanks for examples like Chris Kyle and mourn his loss. I also mourn for the tortured soul who took his life.

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