More About the Veterans Substance Use Group…
Mark has said that through personal experience and research, he noticed that the military, in order to remain functional, dictates that all services begin their respective boot-camp training with constant adherence to a strict unit-mentality (squads, platoons, companies, battalions, etc.). This training philosophy goes back to before the Roman Empire where disciplined armies became far more successful than individualistic rabble. Each member holds a particular position within the unit so that it can function with machine-like efficiency. Members must suppress most of their individuality to remain integral to their respective units and to be able to support each other under duress. This suppression remains intact throughout the member’s career.
Mark has suggested that at all times, particularly in trauma, the unit members share the overall experience and discuss it within the unit or through mission debriefings which help everyone to shoulder the overwhelm of the event. Challenges come about when an individual is separated or isolated from the unit before this exchange/debriefing can take place (i.e. discharge or injury requiring removal from the unit). It is thought that this isolation may be a significant source of trauma-induced PTSD and subsequent self-damaging behaviors. There is no way for the member to titrate or spread out the individual impact with others experiencing the same thing if he or she is removed from the unit.
Therefore, Mark’s approach to Veterans with PTSD, substance-use issues or life challenges in the civilian world is to reintegrate the group mindset with mutual recovery which gradually helps them to find their way back to “solid ground”. Not everyone has had the same experience, but everyone is a Veteran and understands the strength of the unit. By focusing on the strengths inherent to this approach, each member supports the other as they gradually become more confident as a civilian.
Mark holds to the idea that most people just get stuck somewhere in the labyrinth of life and are smart enough continue their path once they get unstuck. His years of dedication have continued to be supported by his deep faith in the inherent goodness and nearly infinite adaptability of all people once they realize that what they think is not necessarily the truth. Getting unstuck is far easier than trying to fix something that is not broken in the first place.