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By David Kupelian
© 2011 WND (WorldNetDaily)
When it comes to dealing with overwhelming stress, one person who really understands the value of “Coping Strategies” is Army Lt. Col. Phillip L. Pringle, a Southern Baptist chaplain who has lived and counseled soldiers in one of the most stressful environments on earth.
Pringle served in Iraq with the 110th Engineer Battalion – the “IED Hunters” – tasked with the crucial but numbingly dangerous job of making Iraqi roads safe for military convoys and civilians by clearing them of IEDs, one of the most hazardous aspects of that war.
Yet he’s witnessed so much success in helping soldiers and their families with the “Coping Strategies” CD that he wrote a letter detailing his experiences to Monaco, which is posted on the Patriot Outreach website.
Pringle describes a typical scenario: “What I notice in passing out the ‘Coping Strategies’ is, soldiers don’t often like to talk about their depression or their anxiety. But if I talk about, ‘Hey, how much stress are you going through?’ they say, ‘Oh, Chaplain, I’ve got a lot of stress.’ And so I will give them this ‘Coping Strategies’ and say, ‘Hey, try this out. It will help you with your management of stress’ – and that seems to work.”
Like Harris, Chaplain Pringle also adds a note about his own personal experience with the CD, saying: “The ‘Be Still and Know’ exercise works for me. It calms my soul, enhances my thinking, and improves my emotional regulation. I am thankful to be a more resilient chaplain.”
The “Be Still and Know” exercise is the result of six decades of work and development by renowned stress expert Roy Masters, who at 83 still hosts the longest-running counseling program in talk radio’s history, on the air continuously since 1961.
Regarding “Be Still and Know,” Masters says the exercise is so effective simply because “it enables you to become objective, a little bit separate and disentangled from all your troublesome thoughts, emotions, heartaches, fears and traumatic memories – and that, all by itself, is extremely helpful, and actually healing.”
Among the professional counselors who have long made use of the exercise is George M. Hayter, M.D., a Navy psychiatrist and lieutenant commander during the Vietnam War, and currently chief of psychiatry at St. Joseph’s Hospital in Orange, Calif. He concludes: “I must say, on the basis of 20 years experience, that the application of this technique has made a significant contribution to the treatment of the great majority of those people who have learned it.” Hayter, a diplomate of the American Board of Psychiatry and Neurology, later became an original member of the board of directors for Patriot Outreach.
So how exactly did Patriot Outreach come into being?
In 2006, while visiting an Army clinic to pick up a pair of glasses, Monaco recalls, “I ran into one of my soldiers. He was undergoing endless tests to diagnose stomach problems, but no one could figure out the cause.” However, says Monaco, the soldier “leaned over and quietly and privately confessed to me of having this recurring image, over and over in his mind, of a dead soldier with a bullet hole in his head, whom he had zipped into a body bag.”
Later that week, continued Monaco, “I read a U.S. News & World Report article dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder, which featured a friend of mine, Col. Kathy Platoni, a combat-stress team psychologist.” Zeroing in on one particular phrase in that PTSD article – “reimagining the trauma again and again” – and knowing that stomach, back and similar symptoms can be caused by undiagnosed stress, Monaco had an epiphany. “It dawned on me,” he said, that the “Be Still and Know” exercise that had “helped me immensely in overcoming extreme adversities” years before could be a useful tool for soldiers with PTSD. Platoni agrees.
Wanting to help soldiers like the one with the stomach symptoms and tens of thousands of others like him, Monaco arranged with Masters to incorporate the exercise as a tool in a multimedia CD for warriors called “Coping Strategies.”
Regarding the future of “Coping Strategies,” Lt. Col. Pringle, the Southern Baptist Army chaplain, has absolutely no doubts: “It is going viral.”
“It will grow in the military,” he explained, “because it fits in very well with the hot issue of learning to be resilient – to embrace and overcome adversity.” And like Gen. Harris, Pringle recommends the exercise for everyone, military and civilian, as prevention as well as treatment. “Being still helps a person be their own best therapist, to reflect on their life, to calm them, to think critically about their problems to overcome them,” he said.
How high up the chain of command has the “Coping Strategies” CD gone? The U.S. Army’s Chief of Chaplains, Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Carter, calls “Coping Strategies” a “great resource for our Soldiers.” And Col. John Bradley, M.D., the chief of psychiatry at Walter Reed Army Medical Center, the U.S. Army’s flagship medical center in Washington, D.C., is convinced. In fact, so convinced is Bradley that the “Coping Strategies” CD is a valuable tool for the hundreds of thousands of soldiers and family members struggling with the psychological scars of war, he has taken it to the top, affirming simply: “I have rendered a positive opinion to The Surgeon General.”
Meanwhile, back “in the trenches,” so to speak, Pringle’s “going viral” comment wasn’t just a reference to the Internet. On May 30 – Memorial Day – Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad, before thousands of attendees at the state’s Gold Star Military Museum in Camp Dodge, signed an executive proclamation declaring Memorial Day in Iowa also to be “Patriot Outreach Day.”
His action followed unanimous resolutions in the Iowa House and Senate commending Patriot Outreach, “founded here in our beloved city of Davenport, Iowa, on September 7, 2006,” for providing “simple, effective, non-intrusive support” for America’s warriors and their families. They acknowledged the tens of thousands of CDs and downloads delivered free “to all armed forces, veterans, first responders, government civilians, battlefield contractors and their families” and paid tribute to the program’s proven “effectiveness in combating anger, stress, pain, combat stress, and even PTSD.”
“Wow!” quipped Monaco. “Who said Democrats and Republicans can’t unanimously agree on a great cause?”
Since Patriot Outreach receives no government funding, it relies entirely on tax-deductible donations to keep it alive and growing and providing free services for the troops. After all, asks Monaco, “What was the invisible hand that got all these soldiers the CDs that have helped them so much?”
Answering his own question – it was, of course, those who have already contributed to Patriot Outreach – he adds, unapologetically, “Please donate so we can get more CDs in the hands of our warriors who need them. It’s notable that there are 65,000 CDs out there, but wouldn’t it be great if that was over half a million?”
To potential benefactors of Patriot Outreach, Monaco asks that they “please contact me directly.”
Indeed, demand for “Coping Strategies” threatens to overwhelm available resources, as soldiers and family members visit the Patriot Outreach website, where they can check out the materials for themselves, privately, and at no cost to them. (Again, the CD is also for sale to civilians, the funds from which serve to underwrite the free grants to soldiers.) Typical comments left by service personnel making online CD requests include these:
•”When I returned from Afghanistan last year to a divorce, your CD is what helped me through it. There are soldiers in my unit that need to learn better coping skills.” (Staff sergeant, infantry)
•”I heard about this CD from my psychologist who has been treating me for PTSD.” (Airman second class)
•”I am a combat trauma therapist. I have given your disc to many veterans who find great benefit. … I will take as many discs as you can send – they will be used!!! Thank You!”
•”I am a Navy nurse who is in regular contact with military active duty suffering from PTSD. This is the cardinal injury of this war. I am a moderate sedation provider, and to see the disinhibition of these soldiers as they undergo sedation and ‘relive’ the trauma, it is incredibly sad and moving. I would like to request 50 copies of the CD for disbursement to those I feel could be helped by your program.”
•(From the USO): “I am requesting 1,000 copies to be given out during missions going to Iraq, Afghanistan and Africa.”
•And just last week: “I am requesting 500 copies to be distributed to Soldiers throughout my division. I am the division chaplain and I have found this audio and data CD to be a tremendous help to my Soldiers.” (Army colonel)
Finally, Goliath Pictures is in the process of producing a documentary on Patriot Outreach and the remarkable effect “Coping Strategies” is having on soldiers burdened by the stress of war.
“Every day,” intones the narrator over heart-pounding war video, “American soldiers are fighting to defend our freedoms around the world. … But the fight, for the soldiers, continues even after they have left the battlegrounds. PTSD has taken hold of our beloved soldiers and is now destroying them from the inside. Thousands of soldiers return from active service, to find they have nowhere to turn when their own thoughts begin to overpower them.”
However, assures the speaker, reinforcements are on the way: “There is hope. Patriot Outreach is an organization that provides the useful tools for our troubled soldiers and arms them with a renewed inner strength – a strength never to be shaken or stirred by angry thoughts or uncontrolled emotion.”
“The soldier is now free to come home.”
NROTC is very impressed with Patriot Outreach and the great work they are doing for those who suffer PTSD… and their families!!!
We are pleased to give them their much-deserved credit along with our highest recommendation!!!
If you or a loved-one suffers from PTSD… This is a MUST-SEE WEBSITE… Go here to listen online or request your CD
The devastating effects of PTSD lead to broken relationships, drug and alcohol abuse, unemployment, homelessness, violence, incarceration and more including suicide. These veterans really need help!
We would like to invite any reader on this website to get involved with us and volunteer in some way… to support our wounded heroes and any veteran in need!
HERE IS HOW YOU CAN HELP IN YOUR PART OF THE COUNTRY:
* Help us gather “Thank You For Your Service” and “Get Well Soon” cards.
* Help us hand-deliver these cards at military and VA hospitals.
* Help us coordinate and sponsor various Recreational Therapy Events in your area.
* Help us fundraise!
Celebrating Over A Decade of Service