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Do you want to know how your spiritual life might respond to combat trauma?

Many veterans talk about how their faith was tested in combat and some talk about losing their faith. Facing life and death events will challenge most belief systems.  Some veterans deepen their faith when it is tested while others abandon their faith or substitute another support system. Some create a routine or ritual that reinforces their faith or their new support system. This provides a sense of safety in chaotic situations. Others totally abandon all the rituals and in effect shake their fist at God. Some find the battle team becomes the only support system they can trust. Each has to find what provides the peace needed to sustain sanity through the fearful times. There are chaplains available to walk with the veteran through these shifts in faith during combat and after deployment. Also, local ministers often can provide a listening ear and understanding heart to allow you to walk through your spiritual questions. Ask around; some are more sensitive to veteran's issues than others.

Do you want to know how spiritual life in combat and civilian life differs or changes?

In civilian life there is an expected routine of ritual available for day-to-day renewal of faith. In combat the routine is chaotic and time for ritual is not predictable. Many units create their own time of acknowledgement of a higher power in their own customized rituals. In civilian life the rituals are maintained from decade to decade and in families passed down from parents to children. Integrating the ritual created amid combat chaos into the personal traditional civilian ritual is a healthy way to transition from the battlefield to the home front. Many returning veterans carry a deep concern about their buddies still in harm's way, and this personal expression is a way to honor them while renewing their faith in safety at home.

Do you want to know how religion/spirituality can support you through this transition?

Many people throughout history have found religious and spiritual practices to be helpful in times of stress and transition.  Archeologists have discovered the recognition of a higher power seems to be wired in because it shows up in all cultures and in all ages. There is also a saying about: There are no atheists on the battlefield. 
However, how can your own religion or spirituality support you during this transition? 
One way is to give meaning to your life of service through your faith.  Having a mission in life is often tied to your religious or spiritual belief. Renewing your mission to the home front with the help of a religious or spiritual support group may allow the reintegration to go more smoothly.

Another way  is to allow you a place of refuge and peace when you need to renew your spirit.  There are retreat centers that will support you in this time of renewal.  Some are supported by religious organizations and some are secular in nature.

Do you want to know what role your beliefs play in creating your life?

Some people believe that their lives happen according to a higher power’s plan.  Some believe that what happens is their “destiny.” Still others believe there is a cooperation/collaboration between a higher power and humans in the creation of their lives. Others choose to believe that they create their own lives and destiny by their own beliefs and feelings. Everyone is entitled to choose their own spiritual path and beliefs. The path may embrace a traditional religion and the rituals and beliefs of that religion.

Most world religions (Buddhism being the exception) have a named higher power. How an individual interacts with that higher power is part of practicing that religion. When a person allows a higher power into their lives on a day-to-day basis, they learn how they can trust the support of that higher power. Knowing they can trust being supported and understood through the sharing of personal issues with a higher power provides comfort.

Asking for clarity provides a way to begin to see a path out of the pain of personal issues. With spiritual support the pain begins to be released, the path becomes clearer and the next step to create the rest of life begins to emerge. Trusting a higher power, a benevolent being outside of yourself, to support you in creating a vision of how life can be is one of  the steps in making that dream come true.

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