Some time ago, when I was still off-and-on suicidal from the constant nightmares and flashbacks – around a half-dozen events a week 35 years after leaving country (down from the 15-20 events a week when I first left the Marine Corps) – I stumbled into a seminar he was giving on NLP. It was quite an interesting talk – I’d heard vaguely of this thing and was interested enough to stay a while. Came a time when he noted that he’d need a volunteer from the audience to help him demonstrate the modality he was ablut to present — and did anyone in the audience have “intrusive thoughts”? Now, I wondered for a moment if he might be talking about Flashbacks ~ but naaaw . . . an “ntrusive thought is to a Flashback what an organ grinder’s monkey is to a 900 lb gorilla. But nobody showed any interest so I raised my hand. He sat me down and told me to just kick back and relax “. . . so, what’s the nature of these intrusive thoughts of yours . . .” I told him I’d done a couple of tours in Viet Nam and he says that’s all he needs to know and would I just take off my pack; relax a bit and invites to close my eyes, and visualize three rows of three TV screens each – a 9-screen array – on wall in front of me . . . and maybe five minutes later he tells me we’re done and I can go back and sit down. I haven’t had a Flashback or Nightmare of any consequence from that day to this.
The guy at the root of all my efforts here, the guy who inspired the with idea of this effort, this company, this approach to the problem(s) we’re addressing, is Thom Hartmann. Now Thom is an extremely interesting guy. He finished school as a psychotherapist and started some sort of wholesale travel business and in a few years sold it for a pile of money with which he bought a farm in rural New Hampshire and established Salem Village, a home (with mental health professionals in residence) for the most abused and special needs children he could find. Seems they can be turned around more thoroughly and quickly working a farm than in an institution (whoda’ thunk it?). When that was up and running and self-supporting, he started another company to fund some other project and so forth. He is currently the stud duck of the progressive talk radio business and the Thom Harman Show airs on the news and information TV channel/network FSTV. He’s been, variously, a disc jockey, psychologist, entrepeneur, philanthropist, radio talk-show host, TV commentator, holistic healer, prolific author and just for kicks and giggles, was expelled from high-school in the 10th grade. That’s EIGHT careers, and he’s sparkled at every single one of them.
I read as many of his books as I was able and tried off and on for a couple of years to get hold of him (he is a fascinating guy, one of the very few “Fully Actualized” people I’ve ever met). He finally turned up as the stud duck of a minor TV station/network dedicated to news, interviews and talk shows. I emailed him, identifying myself as best I could, and asking what I had to study and get “credentialed” in, in order to give what he gave me to other Veterans. He wrote back “. . . Nothing.. Like it’s in the public domain . . . if I remember the script he used on me (like how can I ever forget it?), I can give it to 10 Vets tomorrow, and they can Each give it to 10 of their own the next day . . .”. I immediately envisioned the possible outcome of all this and cogitated some on how I might make it happen.
I decided that for my purposes, I would define as “At Risk” Vets those who were experiencing Nightmares and Flashbacks. I soon discovered that these guys are, by definition, clinically depressed and pretty much never leave the house. They have proved singularly hard to find. But they seem to know who all their similarly afflicted brethren are, and they seem to “keep in touch” through a network that is pretty much bullet-proof from the outside.