Being Present: A Veteran's Story

News about our Veterans struggling seems to be constant. Sadly, the struggles are many, ranging from physical to emotional to financial. With help there is hope, and I would like to tell you one story of a Veteran healing from war.

A gentleman I worked with was a returning war veteran whose job had been to be on constant guard for possible terrorists. It required him to be wired from head to toe with technology which helped him detect and follow suspicious individuals. This was how he spent his days. When he returned to the U.S., he was still in the mode of being hyper-alert and was reliving some of the gruesome situations he had been exposed to when on missions. As could be expected, he was having a hard time being home and connecting to his wife. He couldn’t settle down or stop moving, and lost focus quickly when trying to have a conversation with her. He wanted desperately be able to get back to the relationship he once had his wife, and to find that intimacy again.

We started with one small step that helped him to learn how to be present. He and his wife started going to a yogurt shop several times a week when she got home from work. He would practice being present, not looking at his phone, not looking at the door, not getting up several times —just focusing on being present with what she was saying and truly listening. He started with three minutes, increased the next week to five and eventually worked his way up to twenty minutes without distraction. Within a month, they were more comfortable with each other and decided to go away for an intimate weekend. They practiced the same technique with physical intimacy. Today, they are more connected and in love than when he left for service.