Through the Eyes of a Civilian Psychotherapist

Over the past year and a half I’ve had the privilege to exclusively serve United States Veterans as a civilian psychotherapist. I will purposely make the distinction that I am a civilian, because it is important to understand. Yes, I’m aware that the military has a culture of its own, yes I have close family members and friends who are Veterans, but to serve a Veteran in this capacity goes beyond my training as a psychotherapist and anything I have ever experienced.

I dont know if we truly can ever comprehend someone putting their life in the hands of another person for the sake of a freedom that they themselves may never again experience. Not speaking of death, which is the ultimate sacrifice, but speaking of the life of the service people who return to their loved ones, miles apart from the person they departed. I had a sailor once say to me that to feel the wind blow meaned something completely different to them. They are sometimes fixated on the direction of the wind and the memories associated with, “that one time” versus being able to enjoy the bliss civilians often associate with the blowing of the wind. So many sacrifices are unseen and beyond anything that could ever be imagined. For some, the ability we as civilians have to see the world through the eyes of freedoms we don’t consider as freedoms but as every day life.

As a civilian clinician I often hear the things along the line of a veteran transitioning back to civilian life. How does one transition back from such sacrifice and countless experiences. It is a part of who they are, it’s more than putting a uniform on and taking it off. Enlisting or discharging from the military. I believe their is a new self that is created. One to acknowledge all of who they are and their experiences. Whether they deployed to foreign lands or fought the good fight state side they sacrificed pieces of themselves that we as civilians will never fully understand. Even the things I can grasp as a civilian clinician are a figment of my imagination, a picture I paint through their experiences. A logic that isn’t te logic of civilian life. A picture that will always be made of images in my mind, because of the sacrifices seen and unseen of the brave men and women who offer the imaginable and unimaginable to serve this country.

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