This week’s Time magazine cover story, Can Service Save Us? written by Joe Klein is about voluntary service organizations, and particularly the ones that are made up primarily of recent Veterans like Team Rubicon and The Mission Continues. These organizations seek to assist recently returned Veterans to find a sense of purpose–something that some Vets, particularly combat Veterans can struggle with.
That’s all fine and good as far as it goes, and while I have some issues with some of the attitudes about PTSD in the article–it most certainly is NOT about selfishness or whinyness, and at least one of these people has a particularly dangerous attitude about PTSD–the same attitude that everybody tries to have in the combat zone–
[Co-founder of volunteer group Team Rubicon] Jake Wood has little tolerance for veterans who see themselves as victims. Post-traumatic stress is, he believes, a condition that can be battled and defeated. “If you’re out doing disaster relief,” Wood says, “you’re less likely to be thinking about yourself and more likely to be thinking about the people you’re helping. You’re also presenting yourself, and other veterans, as a model, as a potential community leader.”
Ah, yes–the “don’t think about that now, we have a mission to complete” mindset. That’s all well and good when one is downrange, and may even be necessary to one’s ability to survive and function in the theater of operations, but it is NOT a plan for long-term mental health. That shit festers and grows if you don’t deal with it. It’s like ugly luggage full of unflattering clothes stuck in the attic. Sure it’s out of sight and not embarrassing you, but sooner or later the mold and mildew and the rot are going to make an even bigger mess. But I digress.
That isn’t the real problem with this article. The real problem comes when Jokeline describes his recent trip to Moore, OK with Team Rubicon to undertake disaster relief.
…there was an occupying army of relief workers, led by local first responders, exhausted but still humping it a week after the storm, church groups from all over the country — funny how you don’t see organized groups of secular humanists giving out hot meals — and there in the middle of it all, with a purposeful military swagger, were the volunteers from Team Rubicon.