The Warrior Hero: Reality and Myth

Who was Joseph Campbell? What is a myth? What does "Follow Your Bliss" mean? If you are new to the work of Joseph Campbell, this forum is a good place to start.

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Clemsy
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Post by Clemsy » Sun Dec 02, 2007 10:41 pm

Hi Bear!

I read your post, and have been keeping track of the posts in this thread, and I don't think was off topic at all, just a response to wag's comments. Yours are delivered eloquently and respectfully.

I do appreciate your thoughtfulness and reflection. Such is a hallmark of a higher order conversation.

Cheers,
Clemsy
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Post by wags » Sun Dec 02, 2007 11:10 pm

hi bear,
thanks for the reply from your personal involvement.

whilel the va may post benifits, it is another thing for them to certify those benifits to the soldiers. i know that benifits have to be proven, as in a physical injury, and are easily verified, unlike the brain tumor my brother suffered from and the surgery that left him disabled. while the va paid a one time payment, he will recieve ssi, tax free at about 10,000/yr. not much to live on. the mental illness, i would suspect, is a small number of approved benifits paid out. the addictions are yet one way some have to deal with the effects of war. addiction is a very common way that people deal with escaping the pain in there lives. as you and i know,some men, not all, of war don't like to speak of matters of the war that lay on their heart, and the mental issues don't get dealt with and so the va has no knowledge of their suffering.
i work for a fire dept., and for the last 20 yrs, dealt with many homeless vets in need of help for various reasons. while the va may talk a good game as to what they provide and what stats they put out there, it will always be suspect to me, they would not make themselves look bad, is not man's nature. my homeless rates come from the news media via many sources. as well as my own dealings with vets, yes, with a small number of vets. over all. the mental illness issue, again from my work experience and friends who served, many friends who served in the wars from ww2 to today, are clearly suffering from the effects of the wars.

the bully stance will remain, in my view, as is. no one has been able to convince me other wise. i will, however, say that from the standpoint of ww2, of putting a stop to the attack on "our" ground as the self preservation i spoke of as a matter of defense.

and please know that i respect your decission. i am sorry that you were injured and will have those lasting effects for life. i understand you trying to put the record straight, from your point of view. i know that the last thing any vet wants is someone telling them that the sacrifice they made was for nothing or not appriciated, and that is what many of late are feeling the govt and public puts forth, that is not my point at all. again what my brother, you and they did was a heroic action, no matter what the reason. i just finished watching "flags of our fathers" and at the end of the movie, the speaker says that, para phrase, "we make the hero's, it' something we need, not for the people at home, but for our brothers we fight with" hero's act in the moment, in this case, while the others you spoke of act over time.

as always.....
may peace preceed your every step, wags
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Post by RDCharlton » Mon Dec 03, 2007 12:27 am

Clemsy,
Thank you for your comments and assurances. I very much appreciate the vibe of this board, which seems to be filled with seeker/scholars. I wouldn't want to do anything to damage that.

Wags,
Thanks much for understanding my intent. I don't want to get into a back and forth, but from my personal experience the VA bends over backwards to take care of vets. In my case I have received compensation, healthcare, and 4 years of tuition at a private university. In addition, there are many other benefits available.

I am sorry to read that your brother has to deal with such difficulties. If the tumor and surgery are service connected then he should contact one of the many veterans groups which advocate for vets, and are quite skilled at navigating the treacherous waters of paperwork upon which bureaucracies survive. If his disability is not service connected, then it seems to me your beef is with the SSI folks, not the VA. Regardless, all veterans can apply for health care coverage through the VA, via a means testing program. If their income meets the cutoff guidelines, they can receive free health care. On a side note, a diagnosis of PTSD is almost always given an immediate 100% disability rating.

Regarding the mental health issue, I am afraid the national peer reviewed studies simply don’t support your conclusion. I referenced the VA site because they have compiled results. And my personal, totally subjective and anecdotal, experience as a police officer is that very many of the homeless who claim vet status are…umm…shall we say…unclear as to what “veteran” means. This is not to say that there are not those who are veterans who suffer from mental illness, but my personal, again subjective, experience is that these illnesses are almost always organic in nature (i.e. schizophrenia, bipolar, etc), not traumatic.

Again, I am not looking for a back and forth on this as we seem to see things very differently. However, if you would like to offer me some actual evidence, peer reviewed studies, etc., for your stance I would be happy to look it over. As it stands now, I will rely on the hard evidence and my personal experience rather than opinion.

Bear
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Post by Clemsy » Mon Dec 03, 2007 1:17 am

Bear,

I wish I could say vets today are taken care of. Unfortunately, the numbers coming back from the Big sandy and Afghanistan are stretching the capabilities of the veterans administration to the max. Here's a couple links as to what's happening: LINK, LINK

NPR recently did a series on the treatment of PTSD in the military and it wasn't pretty. Check some of the links HERE.

Enough could never be done for these men and women. Unfortunately, for too many, less than adequate is what they're getting.

It's all about the money, unfortunately. Very cool that your experience has been a good one.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by RDCharlton » Mon Dec 03, 2007 2:38 am

Clemsy,
Those are tragic articles, to be sure. I don't want to degrade any other's experience, especially those which are traumatic. I very much appreciate your sharing these with me. And anecdotal or not, these men and women deserve better than they report receiving. Though it appears most of their issues (such as overmedicating, etc.) are while on active duty and therefore not the purvey of the VA. While I do not agree with such tactics, the military is quite overstretched and doctors in a warzone are charged with doing what they can to maintain operational readiness, i.e. keeping bodies available. So this is more related to the question of how the war is being conducted. Regardless, I will do more research.

Just as Wags is very distrustful of the governmental establishment, I suppose I am just as mistrustful of the media. This is why I prefer information from peer reviewed journals, not that they are always bias free either, but less chance of anecdotal evidence or unconfirmed statistics, two items which media outlets thrive upon.

One of the problems with a topic like homelessness is that reliable statistics are extremely difficult, if not impossible, to obtain. Everyone has their own numbers to work from and are completely dependent on how you define homeless (without a dwelling in your name, staying on a friend's couch for a week, or set up under a bridge somewhere), how the census is conducted, etc. The Congressional Report on homelessness dated 2005 (Homelessness: Recent Statistics, Targeted Federal Programs, and Recent Legislation) even has difficulty obtaining accurate statistics saying in the summary page that estimates range from 600,000 to 2.5 million. From this range of estimates then one must extract even MORE specific information such as medical and psychological history, etc. Are we to believe that even though accurate and confirmable statistics for the homeless are impossible to obtain the various organizations were still able to accurately obtain even more specific information (such as specific percentages, veteran status, etc,)? Color me highly dubious. That is why I look to studies such as this one in The Journal of Nervous and Mental Disease. An abstract can be found here: Perceived Relationship Between Military Service and Homelessness Among Homeless Veterans With Mental Illness
though you need a subscription to access the full article.

I will readily (and heartily) agree that war causes lasting psychic scars. And certainly, war tends to leave its active demons behind. But, to return to the thread topic, it is a person’s response, IMO, to the scars and demons which reflect the Warrior-Hero or not. Does one assume a victim role or does one strive to overcome?

Is this too callous or lacking in compassion? I don’t know. I am not judging those who become victims, at least I don’t think I am. I am simply attempting to relate this to the Hero myth. Perhaps it would be best to end this post here.

Bear

P.S. Thanks Clemsy for the code. Hopefully the links are better now.
Last edited by RDCharlton on Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:43 am, edited 3 times in total.
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Post by Clemsy » Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:15 am

But, to return to the thread topic, it is a person’s response, IMO, to the scars and demons which reflect the Warrior-Hero or not. Does one assume a victim role or does one strive to overcome?
Bear, I can't really answer that. Seems to me, however, if I have to put my stamp on it, a lot depends on genetics, experience, social support, etc. I think the warrior hero is defined by his public action, but the Warrior Hero is known only to the self and, perhaps in the case of the combat veteran, one's ability to overcome the impact of his experience.

But this is beyond my experience. I've known combat vets. All, of course bore scars. Some more obvious than others. All with a secret I can ever know, for which I'm thankful, although a part of me will always be curious as to how I would have handled combat and thereafter.

Cheers,
Clemsy

BTW: You can use bbcode to hyperlink a word or phrase. Your address above scrolls right off my screen! The code is Text to hyperlink.
Give me stories before I go mad! ~Andreas
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Post by RDCharlton » Mon Dec 03, 2007 3:30 am

Clemsy,
Thanks for the code. The whole address seemed quite cumbersome, but I didn't know how to make it more manageable. Now I do! :)

You said, "Seems to me, however, if I have to put my stamp on it, a lot depends on genetics, experience, social support, etc. I think the warrior hero is defined by his public action, but the Warrior Hero is known only to the self and, perhaps in the case of the combat veteran, one's ability to overcome the impact of his experience."

My apologies if I made it sound like I thought public action/appearance was the determining factor. I have long believed that some are born Ferraris, some Fords, and some are born Yugos. My take on a true warrior is not how far or how fast they go so much as it is how far and how fast they go given their capabilities. IOW, for some, a race around the world may be deplorable because they were fully capable of reaching the stars but settled for far less. For others a slow shuffle around the block may represent the most sublime expression of being a warrior because they pushed their limits beyond expectations. Does that make sense or am I babbling again?

Bear
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Post by noman » Mon Dec 03, 2007 5:22 am

So, again, my apologies if the previous post was off topic or came across as defensive.
- RDCarlton
RD,

I’m not a moderator. But I started this thread and my vote is that a Green Beret can talk about whatever he wants concerning soldiering in a Warrior Hero thread. Actually, AJ started the thread by getting her book published.

But I’m curious now. A person who volunteers for the Green Beret must have had heroes – warrior heroes. Do you remember being inspired by real life or fictional heroes?

* * * * * * *

AJ,

I read that Time article about studies on morality and brain function. I had heard about the experiment with the trolley car and five men on the track. Most people would throw a switch, to kill one person to save five. But few would push a man onto the track to save five. And MRIs reveal a different thought process in making these decisions. Can’t help but wonder where all this research will lead. In the future, we may understand ourselves, our brains, better than we ever have before - just before we annihilate the human race forever through war, with our sophisticated WMDs.

- NoMan
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Post by RDCharlton » Mon Dec 03, 2007 9:39 pm

Noman,
Thanks much for the carte blanche; I will try not to abuse your generosity!

My heroes have always been mythic, though I didn’t realize it at the time. If I was to consider it, I suppose the most influential myth was the Lord of the Rings series from JRR Tolkien. This would be the books, of course. I read and re-read those books. Aragorn, Samwise, and Frodo were all role models for me in one way or another. Looking back, it seems to me my heroes were always mortal, wounded, and uncertain of their role, yet persisted in the task at hand with honor and nobility. To me it is much more heroic to be aware of your mortality, yet face the monster anyway.

Must run to class now, but thank you for asking. I hadn’t really considered this before and am currently enduring a dark night of the soul, so to speak. This has given me some insight. Thank you again!

Bear
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Post by wags » Tue Dec 04, 2007 2:07 pm

hi,
hey bear, took your advise and looked into the "facts" of the va and was saddened by what i saw. i too, do not have much use for the media, sensationalism, and never take them at their word. that is why i look into things through many different means. i am glad you are in the top 10% of vets receiving the full amount, but saddened that war has left you totally disabled.

just a note on the previous post before i move on.
in your career as a police officer,warrior,hero, you are more likely to be burdened with having to take a life than i would be. while i have had people die in my arms, despite my best efforts to save them, i can never know the feeling you must have as having to end one. that lays heavy on my heart. i have talked with others who have taken others lives and injured others in wars, and some make some sort of peace with in themselves and lead as normal a life as possible, while others struggle with making peace with their souls for life, it consumes their every waken moment, and many become drug users from the minute they realize that have taken a life. some become users from the mere fact of needed to feel good while in a bad situation, and of course you have those that take drugs just because they are available. alot of my info comes from my involvement with volunteer organizations, keeping up with the continuing education requirements, while some of comes from people like you and others, thank you.

on to my hero's.
i don't remember having one as a kid, so my hero's arrived late in life. i would say that my favorite would be Jesus. not that i am a full blown Christian in the normal sense of the word, more on the spiritual side of Jesus. i do have a problem with man made Christianity, what with the crusades and all, kinda goes against His teachings don't ya think? many of the other prophets are also my hero's, maybe they are all tied together with their teachings and that is the attraction. for me, leading a good life or to emulate my hero's, i believe that when i do something, act, i have to do so out of love for others. it can be a long process in some cases, trying to find the love aspect of the situation, and it may take awhile for the others to realize that my love for them was the intent.

do people with "closed" minds struggle with life more that those with more "open" minds?

as always...
may peace preceed your every step, wags
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Post by A J » Tue Dec 04, 2007 3:09 pm

Wags asked
do people with "closed" minds struggle with life more that those with more "open" minds?
That's a very good question, Wags. My opinion would be that they do not, else why would they close them in the first place - kind of like the old, "My mind is made up, so please don't confuse me with facts." Closing the mind to new ideas could give one a sense of certainty and security, like the bishop in my area, whom I have quoted here before: "The opposite of faith is not doubt; the opposite of faith is religious certainty."

AJ
"Sacred space and sacred time and something joyous to do is all we need. Almost anything then becomes a continuous and increasing joy."

A Joseph Campbell Companion: Reflections on the Art of Living
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Post by RDCharlton » Tue Dec 04, 2007 9:45 pm

wags wrote:hi,
hey bear, took your advise and looked into the "facts" of the va and was saddened by what i saw. i too, do not have much use for the media, sensationalism, and never take them at their word. that is why i look into things through many different means. i am glad you are in the top 10% of vets receiving the full amount, but saddened that war has left you totally disabled.
Wags,
Your care for humanity is a noble and admirable quality.

My apologies for not being clear; I do not receive 100% and am not totally disabled (thankfully), though there are a number of ongoing issues which must be dealt with. There are many others with far, far worse issues with which they must contend. And regardless of whose data you look at, I don’t think any would debate the devastating impact of war. As the old saying from the 60s goes, “War is not healthy for children or other living creatures.”

Bear
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Post by CarmelaBear » Wed Dec 05, 2007 12:40 am

Hello Bear. Nice name. Welcome to our community.

Unfortunately, many of us are not unfamiliar with stories like yours. Some of my relatives were with the military, one with the "Berets". The military requires its most accomplished to be subjected to some of the greatest risks, though many are so well prepared and protected that they stand a good chance of survival in spite of everything. There are many parallels outside the military, and we all hope that someday soon it will be reduced to the status of a mere metaphor.

Have you read the novel by Dan Millman called the "Way of the Peaceful Warrior"? You remind me of both Millman and his mentor. A movie was made based on the story. After one's military duty has been fulfilled, it's possible to find great rewards in becoming truly free.

I was not in the military. My battles were in the strange land between me and my so-called "lovers", men who used my body and soul to fight against sources of frustration that I can scarcely imagine. What men did through sexual violence and harrassment was nothing at all compared to the subsequent stigma that attaches to being in the wrong place at the wrong time, daring to say "no" to forces greater than myself, and being so needy that I did not dare walk away or offer protest. I think if I feel hated it is for being born American, for being born female, for being born in the middle of a large Catholic family, for being born with the genes of Jews and Spaniards, Native Americans and Africans.

All the many stigma function as floor and ceiling for me. Great energy is used to deny that this is happening. The rage is building until I will do something about it, something more than spilling my guts in this forum.


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Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
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Post by RDCharlton » Wed Dec 05, 2007 3:42 am

CarmelaBear,
Thanks for the comment on my nic. I must say, I see something of myself in you, too! :wink:
Bear is an old nickname, first given in the military, actually, but carried on by many others including my daughter (daddy-bear). If we were ever to meet in person, the reason for the nic would become quite clear.

I am sorry for the abuse you have had to endure in your life. I know such things can result in tremendous rage; understandable rage. It is right to rage against abuse. But far too often the rage results in self destructive behavior, much like those veterans we have been discussing. Please don’t let this happen to you. I have found that it is tremendously helpful to find a skilled therapist with whom to discuss my personal demons. While there are many bad therapists, finding a good one may change your life!

I have not read the book you mentioned, though I have seen the movie at the video store. I usually don't pay much attention to such things (since the material is so often VERY lame), but given your recommendation I will take another look at it next time I am there.

Another book which I do recommend is In Search of the Warrior Spirit: Teaching Awareness Disciplines to the Green Berets by Richard Strozzi-Heckler. Stroz, is a psychologist and Aikido black belt with many years of experience in teaching and meditation. He was given the opportunity to spend 6 months with an A Team during the 70s, teaching both Aikido and meditation/awareness. The book is a recount of this time and is superb! The interactions between him and the team, his insights into the Warrior Spirit, and his struggle with the ethics of teaching Aikido, an art devoted to defense and non-aggression, to men who would likely one day use them in combat are immensely insightful! I highly recommend it to anyone seeking the meaning of the warrior spirit.
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Post by CarmelaBear » Thu Dec 06, 2007 8:34 pm

Although I was not in the military, I was a lawyer. I'm also a person who can access feelings of anger and express them with real courage and power. I've been and continue to be part of institutions that are clearly involved in activities that do not represent my own sense of ethics and competence.

As for my self-destructive tendencies....they do not present serious medical symptoms. Now, if I had money to burn, I might hire a therapist, but there's not enough money on the planet for the kind of ear-bending blabbering I'd get into. Besides, I tell the whole world everything here on the forum.....the benefit is far superior, because it's immediate and without regard to medical symptoms or money and not limited to time. Even if nobody reads it, I can go on and on and on, spilling my guts til the cows come home.

I'm like those kids who grow up with pets in the house and, as a consequence, lack allergies to cat and dog dander, hair, etc. I'm like those who are innoculated in childhood. Exposure to abuse is not the same as vulnerability to it. I have only one thing that clearly has the potential to do me in, and self-awareness keeps it from getting out of hand. I eat more food than I should eat. I weigh more than I'd like to weigh. That said, I'm neither obese nor symptomatic........mostly healthy.

There are problems, of course, but nothing major.

Rage keeps me from just rolling over when I hear that my country is slaughtering innocents in my name and treating vulnerable people so badly that they turn to guns to fix what's broken.

I do feel anger towards myself, but I believe in being kind to everyone, inlcuding me. If I can handle my own pain, I can handle the pain of others.

I'll look for that book about the warrior.

~
Once in a while a door opens, and let's in the future. --- Graham Greene
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