A RITUAL OF FAITH: SENDING LOVE TO THE CHILDREN OF VETERANS by Stephanie Mines
May is the Month of Mary and the Month of Mothers. With this in my heart I want to ask everyone receiving this newsletter to SEND LOVE to the children in the families of our returning veterans. As vets stream back from Iraq and Afghanistan, many with PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) and/or TBI (Traumatic Brain Injury), the children in their families are the most vulnerable to how war comes home.
Children are prime targets for the unnoticed and untreated war wounds of intergenerational shock. As politicians wrangle for power and use the current wars for that purpose, the children absorb the fallout and cannot hide. Their very shelter is a war zone. I am not talking about a few children. I am talking about thousands and thousands of children. The Pentagon itself notes, through Dr. Sonja Batten, Assistant Deputy Chief of Patient Services for the VA, “PTSD and TBI are occurring in unprecedented numbers. At least 320,000 soldiers have been diagnosed with TBI and one in eight returning soldiers has PTSD.”
I grew up as the child of a veteran with PTSD and TBI. This was life in a war zone. I was in danger more often than not. The shock of being assaulted by the very people you want to trust and rely on scorches the developmental structures of the brain. It is from this perspective that I ask you to take time on Mother’s Day or any day to sit quietly and send your love to the children of veterans returning now from combat and military service. You can extend this to the children of ALL those living in the midst of war. All wars are wars against children.
The structures of selfhood are constructed within the brains and bodies of children primarily from their experiences and relationships at home. What children learn in school is insignificant in comparison to what they are learning from their family dynamics. A child’s intelligence is shaped by the alchemical fusion of where they give attention and how attention is given to them. Children absorb their sense of people and life from their most intimate environments. Every child, wherever they are, rich or poor, goes through this developmental evolution, absorbing and learning from everything they see, touch, smell, and feel.
If a violent chord is struck and repeated the orchestration of a child’s nervous system and development organizes around this theme. The future of our world is determined by what our children (and our children are everywhere) are experiencing now. You can influence that future in many ways but the simplest is to share your abundant love with children on whom the war has been imposed. These children had no preparation for war. They were never instructed in how to protect themselves from combat. Please protect them with your love. It may be their only shelter.
My family was shaped by war but this went completely unattended. There was no awareness and no remedy for how the terrors of war became our terrors. There was no inoculation against the contagion of shock. It was left to me to back track and reconstitute my war wounded self. Because I have done this I reach out to you to remember the children who right now are living in a war zone in their own homes. Send your love there. Visualize it and reach out from your heart to them. They will feel it. It matters. Love always matters. Love is never inconsequential or insignificant. It is our greatest human resource.
I am calling for your silent, potent, compassionate action of love. President Obama has said that the war in Iraq is over but for the children and families of returning veterans the war is not over. For some children the war has just begun.
This article was cross posted at www.Tara-Approach.org.
Dr. Stephanie Mines is a psychologist whose unique understanding comes from her academic research as well as her extensive work in the field. Her stories of personal transformation have led many listeners to become deeply committed to the healing journey. Dr. Mines understands shock from every conceivable perspective. She has investigated it as a survivor, a professional, a healthcare provider, and as a trainer of staffs of institutions and agencies. Her blend of Western and Eastern modalities offers the best of both paradigms. She is devoted to ending the lineage of shock and trauma for individuals and the world.
Dr. Mines is the Program Director of the DOM Project, a non-profit organization dedicated to providing alternative health options for a broad spectrum of populations. As Director, she is responsible for disseminating information to communities in need, especially people suffering from illness that results from shock and trauma, survivors of domestic violence, families and children, and people living with neurodiversity including autism and other sensory integration challenges.
Dr. Mines’ award winning book ”WE ARE ALL IN SHOCK: How Overwhelming Experiences Shatter You and What You Can Do About It“, (New Page Books, 2003), presents a comprehensive application of the healing system she has developed. Her new books on the treatment of autism and sensory integration will be released in 2013 by Jessica Kingsley Publications. The titles are still in process.