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Hello, and welcome to Paving the Road Back!

Or should I say, two welcomes?

Welcome #1 (for everybody)

I am a psychiatrist living in Nashville, Tennessee, USA, and since 2009 I have had the honor and the privilege of working with combat veterans who have been seeking to make better lives for themselves. Through this site, I strive to reach out to all those men and women who have been affected by their War experiences, to encourage them continuously to pursue missions and connections that are worth looking for, striving for, and living for.

Since 2011, I have periodically been sharing my experiences of working with combat veterans as they have allowed me to share in the struggles and the victories of their lives. These postings are available in the Blog section above.

In January 2016, I launched a podcast, also entitled Paving the Road Back, in which I also share daily reflections of encouragement and information about individuals and organizations throughout the English-speaking world who are working to help combat vets move forward in life. I invite you to check it out and subscribe, on either iTunes or Stitcher.

I strive to keep an updated list of such individuals and organizations as they work to improve the lives of combat veterans, whether through therapeutic services or through life-changing encounters and service opportunities. Please check out the Resources  page above for what might be available near you or near a combat veteran whom you love and support.

Finally, let me say this:

I want to express my thanks to all of you who have striven to protect those you love and the societies to which you have committed yourselves. Specifically, I thank you for your decision to live for something—and even more, some-ones—beyond yourselves, even if that might mean that life for you might take very dangerous, irrevocable turns.

If the ideas, the materials, and the encouragement that I hope to offer on these pages prove helpful to you as you pave your own road back home, then I will have been honored indeed.

Furthermore…

Welcome #2 (for combat veterans)

If I were never to have an opportunity to speak with you again, combat vet, what message would I want to leave you? My answer is straightforward and sincere: no matter what has or has not happened, if you are a combat vet, you still have what it takes to do what needs to be done, for there are still missions and connections in life worth looking for, living for, and striving for.

 

Podcast Text:

Podcast guru Doug Foresta challenges his students to focus their message in a memorable way:

Imagine that you have an opportunity to speak before 10,000 people.

These are not just any people.
They are the people who MOST need your message.
All of them are your ideal listeners

The Catch:

You ONLY have one hour with them.
You can never contact them again in any way.
You have one hour to change their lives and make an impression on them

What will you tell them?

Now there’s a challenge worth taking, for, in fact, it speaks the day-to-day truth of this blog, as well as most podcasts and websites:

People land onto home pages or download initial broadcasts
They read, they listen.
They leave.  They go on with their lives.
Most times they never return.
The End.

So, my friend whom I may know for only cyber-minutes more:

If you are a combat veteran, you still have what it takes.

There it is. If this is the only chance that I have to interact with you ever, that is the message I want to leave with you.

If you are a combat veteran, I think you need this message.

And I’m not talking only about knocking-down-doors combat veterans.

If you knocked down doors,

you still have what it takes.

But if you were somewhere within the continental/cybernetic range of those who knocked down doors,
—surrounded by War or watching it live-and-in-action on a screen in front of you,
—doing your job so that someone somewhere could knock down doors:

you still have what it takes.

Now, you may not think you deserve to have what it takes

Based on what you did,
Based on what you didn’t do.

You may think that there is nothing there to take.
You may think that there once was a “there” and a “something,” but that

—they got blown up
—you blew them up
—you abandoned them
—they abandoned you.

You may think that, yes, you once had “it,” whatever it is, but that “it” is no longer something you have, but rather something that currently lies, forever lost, on some

god-forsaken desert
god-forsaken rice paddy
god-forsaken mountain
god-forsaken ocean
god-forsaken somewhere, anywhere, nowhere.

All these may be relevant facts as to who you are now, as to who you have been, perhaps even as to who you might become.
Fine. I’m all for relevant facts.

But this fact remains:

if you are a combat veteran, you still have what it takes

Period.

“So, Doc,” you might ask, “Just what is it that I have that will allow me to take whatever is supposedly out there?”

Glad you asked me that, combat veteran.

Remember that moment when you knew that you had made it through basic training or when you had made it through officer candidate school?
Now, remember that moment when you were told that, should it ever all come down to you, you have what it takes to do what needs to be done?

That’s it. That’s what you have.

If you are a combat veteran, you have what it takes to do what needs to be done.

Plain and simple.

“So, Doc,” you may ask further, “Just how is it that you are so sure that I still have what it takes to do what needs to be done?”

Again, glad you asked me that, combat veteran.

Let’s think:

Do you seriously believe that there have been, are, or will ever be officers, commissioned or non-commissioned, who have ever, do ever, or will ever in their right minds put their

—credibility
—careers, and
—maybe even their very lives

on the line and affirm

—your readiness to fight enemies, both foreign and domestic,
—even unto death,
—whether your own or
—the deaths of those who stand next to you,
—now and in the future,

without their honestly believing—even unto death, if necessary—that

“you have demonstrated to us that you have what it takes to do what needs to be done”?

Furthermore…

Once you arrived wherever you were to arrive after your basic training, do you seriously believe that there have been, are, or will ever be officers, commissioned or non-commissioned, who have ever, do ever, or will ever in their right minds put their

—credibility
—careers, and
—most definitely even their very lives

on the line and then deploy you without their honestly believing—most definitely even unto death, if necessary—that

“you have demonstrated to us that you have what it takes to do what needs to be done”?

—Need I remind you that there were people who didn’t make it through basic training?
—Need I remind you that there were people whom nobody–and I mean, nobody–was going to let be deployed under his/her Command?
—And need I remind you that if you can indeed point out exceptions to these statements, the very fact that they are “exceptions” proves, as the saying goes, the general rule?

Not only are you a veteran, my friend, if you are a member of my “ideal audience,”

—You are a combat veteran.
—You are not an exception to the rule.
—To any rule.

I’ve been a psychiatrist for thirty years. I’ve had the best of teachers. I’ve seen people come and go, go and come, never come, never go.

I know “what it takes” when I see it.

And if you are a combat veteran, you did have what it takes to do what needs to be done.

Now, I’m not saying that

—you still have it to the same extent. Injuries happen.
—you still have it without complications.  Bad luck happens.
—you still have it without grief. Bad luck happens to others as well.
—you still have it without some amends to make. Bad decisions happen.
—you still have it with a clear sense of what you should do with it. New situations happen.

I’m not saying that you don’t have something to do in order to get your life where you want it to be.

—Like seeking treatment, given those injuries, emotional, physical, both
—Like seeking new goals for your energy, given that bad luck of a downsizing military and difficult economic conditions
—Like crying for as long as you need to cry and then gratefully holding on to what you can hold onto, given the bad luck of those whom you’ve observed, served with, loved
—Like making amends, given those bad decisions. Perhaps lots and lots of amends, for lots and lots of bad decisions.
—Like finding a meaningful place to live out what you should pursue in life, given those new situations

All that may indeed need to be done.

You may very well, in other words, have further missions to undertake.

If so, I strongly, sincerely urge you to do so. And never stop looking for missions of the most fulfilling type.

On those missions, I cannot accompany you. You will either go forward and pave your road back. Or you won’t.

But, my brief-cyber-friend, on one mission I will always accompany you, whether on this podcast or only in your memory, from this point on:

The mission of a single phrase:

If you are a combat veteran, you still have what it takes.

That’s my message. That’s my mission. Nothing more. But, thankfully, nothing less.

If you ever need a reminder from someone who will never take your “no” for an answer, no matter how hard you might try:

You know where to find me.

Follow the mission. Pave your road to the best life you can.

Be well, my friend.

For you have what it takes.

Doc