“Close with and destroy the enemy.” This is the mission when boiled down to its core. All of the support and side tasks lead to this one objective, a single point which the entire might of the military strives to achieve. This singular focus must shift upon transition out of the military and into civilian life. New enemies such as PTSD, anxiety, depression and chronic pain rear their ugly heads and must be met with the same mindset, tenacity, and resource utilization as the active duty mission.
While I would love to say my mindset has never wavered, sadly this is not the case. Everyone has their weak moments, life challenges expose vulnerability within one’s self, and it is crucial to a healthy mindset that these vulnerabilities are worked on. If we think about the path to peace as an actual path, then a healthy mindset and body are the entrance. My entrance presented itself a short time after I had been at my lowest, a single trigger pull away from being done with these issues. Getting back into the gym was the first step. As I worked my body back into shape, so too did my mind get a workout. Dedication to my family, as well as challenging my own honor and integrity allowed me to take the first few steps through that entrance and onto my own path. Once the momentum began, the tenacity kicked in. Being tenacious is a favorable quality in any soldier, sailor, airman or marine.
Ultimate determination is needed to complete missions in some of the worst conditions in the world. That same tenacity and determination must be applied to the battles within. Without it, success will be infinitely harder to achieve. There will be hard days and nights, mistakes, unforeseen challenges, untrustworthy people, and a myriad of other issues. This is fuel to a tenacious veteran and should be used to enhance aspects of fitness and mindset. The same principal is applied when the path gets too easy. Strive to turn the easy path into the difficult path, the sense of accomplishment after completing a difficult task or workout is always worth the effort and resources required.
While most of the fight comes from within the individual, outside resources and tools are available and need to be utilized. From VA programs and nonprofit organizations, to medication and workouts, finding assistance takes relatively little effort. I’ve participated in all of the above and there are a few resources that truly stand out when I think about my own path. The first is Struggle Beyond the Decade, a YouTube video series and non profit dedicated to shedding light on PTSD and presenting paths to recovery. Another is the James R. Barrett Foundation, which is also dedicated to promoting PTSD awareness and erasing the stigma associated with seeking help. The final tool is maybe the one factor that helped me personally more than any other, exercise in concert with a CBD regimen.
The positive aspects of exercise are well documented but the introduction of CBD took fitness to another level for me. I originally started taking it to get out of the Motrin cycle for muscle pain and inflammation. As anyone in the military will tell you, Motrin and water cures all, however it is not very healthy for your liver and kidneys. With the introduction of CBD I have not taken anything for pain and inflammation in two years. CBD use also has the added bonus of assisting with relaxation and anxiety. While I know it may or may not work for everyone, it is definitely something all veterans should look into for themselves. To all my brothers and sisters past, present and future, I hope you read this and feel what I’m trying to convey. We have the strength in us to close with and destroy any enemy, both internal and external. Regain your strength, search for your path, acquire the needed resources, walk through the gate, and know that I will be out here doing the same.
Happy Veteran’s Day.
SFC Jared McBride, USA, Retired