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A Soldier’s Memoir: PTSD

by Jason Collins

I recently read the incredible memoir Invisible Storm by Jason Kander. Jason is a former army captain who served in Afghanistan. He also held political office in his home state of Missouri. He ran to become a U.S. senator and was even considered a hopeful presidential candidate. His book traces the story of his rise to political prominence and his sudden change of course when he publicly revealed that he had been struggling with post traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) for years. I found his story to be so inspiring, honest, and vulnerable. I recommend it to anyone who has suffered trauma, especially those who have served in the military.

grey cargo plane flying
Photo by Pixabay on

There are so many helpful, encouraging moments in Kander’s story but one point in particular that he makes towards the end of his journey stands out to me. He writes,

“Thinking ‘other people have it worse’ doesn’t actually diminish your own trauma, it just diminishes your power to heal.”

Invisible Sorm, by Jaon Kander
four soldiers carrying rifles near helicopter under blue sky
Photo by Somchai Kongkamsri on

In my experience of walking with clients through trauma, especially some veterans, I have found that many of them carry a huge weight of guilt and shame on their shoulders. Sometimes when people go through trauma and begin to experience the triggers and residual effects of PTSD, the narrative they tell themselves often sounds like: “You shouldn’t feel this way… Your experience wasn’t that bad… Other people had it way worse than you did.” Soldiers especially who may not have been in direct combat may diminish their experiences and place blame on themselves for being weak or unable to cope with them. During his time in Afghanistan, one of Kander’s jobs was to meet and coordinate with potential allies in the region. Sometimes his work would take him into possibly unsafe regions meeting with people whose motives were unclear. Kander never experienced fire fights or physical injuries. But, he knew soldiers who did. And some even lost their lives. So, when he came home and began experiencing nightmares and panic attacks, he told himself the common narrative that his traumatic experiences weren’t valid. What he came to realize was that his military service placed his mind and body in a constant state of danger and stress, and that, in and of itself, brings about trauma within the brain. Our brains don’t distinguish between active, present danger and potential, perceived danger. The effects of both are the same. So, with that understanding and the help of his therapist, Kander was able to participate in treatment for his PTSD and today he has “tamed the Monster” as he tells in his book.

If you or someone you love is suffering from the symptoms of PTSD, one of the first steps toward healing is to practice compassion for yourself and accept that your trauma is real. Each person’s experiences are unique and valid. It is not your fault and it doesn’t mean that you’re weak, regardless of what you may or may not have experienced. In fact, in Kander’s memoir he recounts his wife’s story as well. She experienced secondary PTSD from simply walking through the journey with her husband. So, no matter how severe you may perceive your trauma, even if you feel as if others have had it worse, you deserve compassion and the chance to heal.

One of our local organizations, The Eden Project, a warrior to warrior support system for those veterans in our community of Fayette and Coweta Counties. Check out their podcast where they discuss how they are helping local veterans and offering peer support.

At The Pursuit, a group of experienced therapists have come together to offer best-in-class counseling services. We prioritize clinical theory, non-judgmental approaches, and effective interventions, treatment plans, and coping skills. We have therapists who specialize in different areas and we strive to find the best match for your unique needs. Our services cater to individuals, families, and organizations, including adolescents in high school. We aim to connect you with the specialist who can best address your concerns. Our specialized counseling services aim to address the underlying emotional wounds that contribute to behaviors. We offer evidence-based counseling that is effective in working with many presenting problems. We provide a holistic approach to recovery, focusing on healing the past to create a healthier future. Are you ready to take the first step in your Pursuit towards a happier, healthier you? We invite you to book your free 20-minute consultation with one of our skilled therapists. Don’t wait; it’s time to invest in your well-being. Simply Book Now to start your Pursuit toward personal growth and positive change today. You can also check out our specialty page on Trauma Therapy for more info

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