Chaplainsís Corner: Cleaning wounds Print E-mail
Thursday, 08 June 2017
By Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jim Paulson
Special to GUIDON

One of the scenes from Iraq that is burned into my memory, was visiting a wounded Soldier in the Combat Support Hospital with our brigade commander and command sergeant major.

The Soldier was a gunner who had been injured by an improvised explosive device. He apologized profusely to the sergeant major for getting wounded and begged him to not let the doctors send him out of theater.

He said, “Sergeant major, we are short on our truck and I am needed as the gunner. My wound is not that bad: I’ll be OK. It feels like I am being sent to the locker room while the game is still going and my team really needs me.” (Unfortunately, the wound demanded more advanced treatment if he were going to regain full use of his arm; he was evacuated out of theater.)

Warriors will ignore their wounds and continue on for the sake of their buddies, unit and mission. This is inspiring beyond words in the short-term, but can be very deadly in the long-term. If that Soldier had actually hidden his wound, his arm could have become infected. That infection could have spread to his whole body and required that his arm be amputated to save his life. This extreme outcome is possible even from wounds that would not otherwise be life-threatening.

Interestingly, emotional wounds are the same for all of us: Service members, Department of Defense civilians, contractors and Family members. If you cover up the “wound” of emotional trauma and do not “clean it out,” it can develop the “infection” of anger and rage and result in very destructive behavior. This can bring death to very important, personal relationships — an outcome that could have been avoided if the “wound” had been cleaned out and treated properly. Warriors often consider it a sign of weakness to address emotional traumas. However, you must treat your “wound” to remain a valued asset to your team.

So, I recommend you talk to a friend, mental health professional, chaplain or pastor and pursue a relationship with God through the Lord Jesus Christ.

The reason this chaplain is still standing after a couple of tours in Iraq is because I have done exactly those things.

(Editor’s note: Paulson is the installation Family Life chaplain.)
Last Updated ( Wednesday, 21 June 2017 )