One of the most reoccurring concerns I have, while preparing myself for this deployment, is my level of mental strength. Having been on the combat arms side for some time, I have seen a few deployed soldiers who have trouble readjusting to their lives back in the states. Some have gone to abuse alcohol, and other substances, while many others have trouble maintaining personal relationships. Whether these soldiers were already at risk due to stress in their personal lives or they experience some traumatic event during combat; the fact remains that these soldiers are now affected by their previous deployment.
I’m not here to blame the system, or justified their actions, I share this simply to underlined the importance of mental preparation prior to a deployment. Personally, I have developed three major tactics to cope with my military service. My first method dealing with stress is having a strong group of friends who are going through the same experience. Having people, those you can share the difficulties of service with, is very important; in order to let the pressure off your chest. More importantly, make sure you have at least one or two friends you can truly count on to speak about the most deeply held subjects and who would understand these issues first hand.
The second method is reading. I know, grunts don’t want to read unless it comes with pictures or it’s a coloring book. But, hey you made it this far! The following is a list of books I recommend for those deploying for the first time or those looking for answers on their way back to real life.
My third method is physical training. Whether this means running, lifting or any other type of physical activity that’s up to you, but make sure that your physical energy, tension and stress is going somewhere productive where you can clear your mind.
Links on the pics guys.
Resilience: Hard-Won Wisdom for Living a Better Life
This book is one of the best books on the subject I have read so far. The author incorporates letters exchanged between soldiers and himself who are dealing with the after deployment/service effects back in the civilian life. I know, another Navy Seal wrote a book 🙂 , but this guy is the real deal. More on the Author here.
On Combat: The Psychology and Physiology of Deadly Conflict in War and in Peace
I read this book while conducting fire watch at worldwide on my way to Airborne land. It took me two or three nights but it was well worth it and it gave me a definite new perspective on combat. Hollywood most often romanticizes and deludes the reality of combat as experience by real soldiers, veterans seldom want to talk about it; and so, the new guys come in hoping for explosions and moments of heroism; but become disillusioned or confused . This book speaks about how your body and mind react to combat, violence and stress. It’s a book worth reading just so you are not caught off guard by your own nervous system.
On Killing: The Psychological Cost of Learning to Kill in War and Society
I’m currently reading this book, so the final veridic is not out, but it’s an interesting read about the cost soldiers face not just for killing, but also, for training to kill and how society deals with it. It seems to be rather useful to keep in mind once you are home, and trying to acclimate to your normal routine.
10-Minute Mindfulness: 71 Habits for Living in the Present Moment
I know, what that hell am I thinking right? But hear me out, there are hundreds of cultural references to warriors who meditate. The samurai, for example, were deeply invested in the practice. The bottom line is that university level research has concluded that meditation has significate benefits to reducing anxiety, depression and stress. It also increases the brain activity in the areas use for cognitive thinking and helps reduce rumination. It doesn’t take a lot of your day and it gives you a chance to catch up and be in the present moment. This book contains Seventy-one meditation habits you can incorporate to your routine. Personally, I have so far used three every day for the last 30 days and it has allowed me to take on more stressful work (like day trading part-time) and improve my mood substantially. Anyway, if you don't believe me check out this article by Task and Purpose.
I believe these are the must have, pre-deployment, best books you can read. Please, let me know if you have any you will like us to discuss. And remember that Amazon will ship your purchases directly to APO addresses for soldiers deployed overseas. Please, hop over to our Shop and check out all the products I'm currently reviewing for deployment. It won't cost you anything extra and it will help keep this site live. And thanks to the guys from @556 Productions for letting me use their pic!