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What to Say to Your Soldier or Veteran Who Confess to You Their Sins of War
By listening without judgment and negativity you are giving your soldier something extremely valuable that they need. It may seem insignificant to you, but to them they are pouring out their soul to you and by doing so you can help them reclaim a lost self forgotten on the battlefield.
By living through combat we come back completely different people than the one who left home. Mostly we do not see this or choose to remain in denial because if we can pretend to be who we were then we might not have to face who we became.
Your soldier has chosen to look into there soul and share this with you. When they delve into this abyss they experience it for the first time as well as you. In combat we have to compartmentalize all of the horrors of war due to our inability to process it, to do otherwise would get us killed.
By listening and giving them comfort they can begin to regain that part of the mind that has been ravaged by war. They are not proud of the things they will share with you, do not tell them that you are proud of them in these moments for this is a judgment. Deep down they know it is not their fault, this to is a judgment.
They may blame themselves, guilt of surviving and leaving your battle buddy behind is a crippling cycle of incrimination and damnation.
Tell them things that a mother would tell her son or daughter when he or she comes running home and crying. There, there. It’s ok, it’s ok. I am here for you. I love you. I am glad you made it home, etc. Also encouraging words or phrases; Uh huh, yeah, ok, go on, I’m listening, etc can help encourage him or her to go on. Also, silence can be an effective communicator of interest in hearing him or her talk.
Remember, this is more about him or her. Let them lead the way and do not push them into talking when they would not be comfortable.
I hope this helped, if you want to understand why they do the things they do or what may be going on in their mind; browse my blog, I have poured my heart out in it and think that it closely resembles what many combat veterans think and feel.