For Sandy Hook first responders Navy’s remedy is spirituality

In a recent New York Times story, seven Newtown police officers give a first hand account of the carnage they found inside Sandy Hook Elementary School on Dec. 14. 

In the piece, Eric Brown, a lawyer for the union that represents the police officers, said many of the officers who responded to the school shooting will likely suffer from Post Traumatic Stress Disorder for the rest of their careers.

“We estimate it is probably going to be 12 to 15 Newtown officers who are going to be dealing with that, for the remainder of their careers, we imagine, from what we’ve been told by professionals who deal with PTSD,” Brown states.

It's a heart breaking article, yet, there is good news to be shared here from the experiences of United States servicemen and servicewomen who are finding relief from the predicted long-term effects and traditional drug based therapy of those diagnosed with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

The United States Navy Chaplain Corps, Bureau of Medicine and Surgery, has published the “Handbook on Best Practices for the Provision of Spiritual Care to Persons with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder and Traumatic Brain Injury.”  The 107 page guide  is written by chaplains for chaplains contains text and scripture from the Old Testament, New Testament, Qur’an, and writings of Buddha. 

These military PTSD sufferers have found success by turning from what has been lost and the difficulties of the struggle to a focus on what there is to be thankful for and “ways in which they may have some hope for the future based on seeing God’s presence in their struggle… to find parallel stories in scripture that enlighten, encourage and provide help and assurance of God’s love,” the handbook states.

Just one of hundreds of messages found in Newtown, Conn. following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. 

Just one of hundreds of messages found in Newtown, Conn. following the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. 

At one point Jesus was asked why Pilate killed innocent Galileans while they were worshipping at the altar and why eighteen in Jerusalem were crushed when the Tower of Siloam collapsed and fell on them.  Were they all sinners? 

Jesus answered, “Not at all! But unless you turn to God, you will perish (ancient Greek definition: be lost, ruined, rendered useless).”  Bible scholars understand Jesus to be first discounting that tragedy is punishment for sin. Then he counsels his listeners not find themselves lost, ruined, or rendered useless by fixating on the horrific, but to go forward by turning/changing one’s mental direction to God, good. 

And today the United States Navy is pointing the way.  Wonderful, isn’t it?

3 Responses to “For Sandy Hook first responders Navy’s remedy is spirituality”

  1. Eileen

    Wonderful news indeed! Thank you Linda for sharing this wise perspective which also comforts those of us who watched the events in horror and have the same unanswered question… why?

  2. Emily

    Yes, it is wonderful that the Navy is helping those suffering from PTSD with spirituality. I hope that this Navy handbook will get into the hands of the First Responders in Newtown, who witnessed the aftermath of a massacre that was so horrific that in my mind there is no other way to start moving forward besides turning to God.

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