A Green Beret Busting Myths About PTSD

Saint Leo University veteran student Brian Anderson is willing to talk about his experience with post-traumatic stress to bust myths held by the general public.

Saint Leo University veteran student Brian Anderson is willing to talk about his experience with post-traumatic stress to bust myths held by the general public.

The U.S. military is downsizing. The war in Iraq is over, and combat troops are due out of Afghanistan by the end of next year. So more than 1 million service members are expected to enter the civilian workforce in the coming years.

That’s why two veterans are on a mission to help employers and the community in general separate fact from fiction when it comes to post-traumatic stress disorder.

First, not every veteran has PTSD. It affects only an estimated 20 to 25 percent of combat veterans, according to Saint Leo University associate professor Dr. Jim Whitworth, a 21-year Air Force veteran with a Ph.D. in social work.

There’s a lot to understand about post-traumatic stress and the best teachers are those with the diagnosis. However, most veterans are not comfortable talking about their traumatic experiences.

That’s where the bravery of Brian Anderson shines through. He is willing to share what can be painful details so clinicians, the public and employers have a better understanding of returning veterans.

Anderson joined the military because of September 11th. His first hitch in the Army was as a photo-print journalist with the 82nd Airborne Division. Anderson then became a Green Beret.

“I killed my first man on Dec. 31st 2008. And, you know, at that point it was more of a high-five type experience.  I was psyched. I was really pumped about it,” Anderson said. “The second deployment, I went in, our very first fire-fight was eight hours long. And we killed 39 Taliban that day and we had a couple of our guys wounded. Continue reading

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An Army Career of 46 Years, 4 Days Ends in Tampa

U.S. Army Col. Warner Farr, Command Surgeon, U.S. Special Operations Command, speaks during Col. Charles "Dahl" Farr's room dedication ceremony, at Hurlburt Field Fla., Aug 16, 2010. (DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman Caitlin O'Neil-McKeown/Released)

U.S. Army Col. Warner Farr, Command Surgeon, U.S. Special Operations Command, speaks during Col. Charles “Dahl” Farr’s room dedication ceremony, at Hurlburt Field Fla., Aug 16, 2010. (DoD Photo by U.S. Air Force Airman Caitlin O’Neil-McKeown/Released)

After a career spanning 46 years and four days, Army Col. Warner “Rocky” Farr retired today, April 25, 2013.

His military experience started as a Green Beret in the jungles of Vietnam ended as the command surgeon of U.S. Special Operations Command Central at MacDill Air Force Base in Tampa, Florida.

Farr, retiring at age 64, is “the third-longest serving soldier in the Army and one of only 13 of more than a half-million on active duty who served in Vietnam” according to the Tampa Tribune.

Reporter Howard Altman wrote a comprehensive profile about this accomplished military man. I encourage you to read it.

Congratulations to Col. Farr and his family because we all know that in the military, it’s the whole family that serves and may they all enjoy a retirement well earned.

 

A View from Inside a Turret and Under a Green Beret

Green Beret and author Tony Schwalm.

Green Beret and author Tony Schwalm.

Tony Schwalm commanded a tank company in Desert Storm, but it left him with a gnawing feeling that the mission was incomplete. So, he gave up the status he’d earned in the conventional Army to forge a new path as an “unconventional warrior” – a Green Beret.

Schwalm not only made it through the Special Forces Qualifications Course – known as the Q Course – he was later brought back to help redesign the test of physical strength, stamina and wits.

Now a retired Lt. Colonel, Schwalm traces his personal journey from tank commander to commander of Special Forces officer training at Ft. Bragg in his book: The Guerrilla Factory: The Making of Special Forces Officers – The Green Berets.

Schwalm is a Tampa Bay resident who just returned from Afghanistan where he was assigned to the Combined Joint Special Operations Task Force as a Army civilian leading a group of social scientists supporting special operations forces.

“On the ground, you are, especially in Afghanistan, you are living in a completely asymmetrical 360  degree shooting gallery,” Schwalm said. “You don’t know where the threat is, there’s no lines, there’s no rear area. Everyone, over there, lives in harms’ way.”

The 11-year conflict in Afghanistan and his experience in Desert Storm shaped Schwalm’s strong belief in the value of Special Forces or SF.

Courtesy: Simon & Schuster, Inc.

Courtesy: Simon & Schuster

He wrote his book so people would understand the training – both physical and mental – behind Special Operations forces. He also wanted to explain the differences between say a Navy SEAL and an Army Green Beret.

Schwalm splits them into two camps: Superman and Daniel Boone.

“The Superman is the one that most civilians think of, a barrel-chested freedom fighter, very handy with his weapons, physically attractive as well. You want the whole package,” Schwalm said. “Superman does things on a very short timeline usually measured in minutes or hours.”

He said Daniel Boone better describes the Special Forces warrior like a Green Beret because he’s known for working with other cultures over a long period of time.

“He learns languages. He lives with people. He subjects himself to great privation going for long, long expeditions,” Schwalm said. “That resonates with me because Army Special Forces, the Green Berets, when they go they go for a long time measured in months and years and that’s what Afghanistan has become.”

He said the book is for anyone who wants to know what it means to be in the military – what it means to send out U.S. Forces whether conventional or Special Forces.

“This is what it looks like from inside the turret. This is what it looks like from under the Green Beret,” Schwalm said.

Listen to Schwalm read a section of his book HERE.

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