Michael J. Kerrigan

Post-Traumatic Stress


Over the last several years I have come to greatly admire the work of the War Writers Campaign. http://www.warwriterscampaign.org a nonprofit independent publisher who understands the power of therapy through communications. In my publication of Courage in America: 7 Warriors with Character and through the Character Building Project, I have tried to support their mission of promoting social change surrounding veteran’s issues through written awareness.

In visiting wounded warriors at Walter Reed Medical Center, Fort Belvoir and other hospitals serving the military, I have met many warriors who have successfully grown after suffering traumatic mental and physical injuries. I cannot think of a one who experienced post-traumatic growth on their own. Almost all have benefited from non-medical advisors (NMAs) as caregivers, usually their spouses. Not enough attention has been paid to the “other side of the bed” where the support is becoming better understood but their suffering is not.

I… Continue reading

TeamRWB Group Photos


By Daniel P. Crandall

Chair, PTG Sports Caucus


Despite what some Congressional Staffers may say, there is significant evidence supporting sports and physical activity as a path toward Post Traumatic Growth (PTG). A Psychology of Sport and Exercise review of studies notes that there are “… several reasons to believe that sport and physical activity might influence the well-being of combat veterans seeking support for …” Post Traumatic Stress Injuries and wounded warriors who have crossed “… the border from able-bodied to disabled as a result of war.” At least one study, however, questions the long term effectiveness of adventurous outdoor activities on reduction of symptoms related to post traumatic stress injuries.


The review linked above notes, “… it is necessary to guard against viewing such activities as a panacea for improving veterans’ lives in general.” Toward that goal the review article points out a study… Continue reading

Veterans struggle in aftermath of recent wars, but friendship and structures of faith help the process of healing

John Burger


Post-traumatic stress. Amputations and brain injuries. High suicide rates. Can any good news come out of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars?

The effects of our recent military engagements in the Middle East are long-lasting. Though today’s veterans come home to a friendlier reception than their Vietnam-era forebears had, thousands of men and women who served in Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom carry scars physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual that are deep and abiding.

Will they recover? Can they recover? What can be done for them? Is the Veterans Affairs (VA) system adequate? Is spiritual help being offered for those who need it? What difference is it making?

As America celebrates another Memorial Day and Congress questions whether the VA system of medical centers is doing enough, the veterans… Continue reading

Dear friends and family!

I will be participating on a panel in May in NYC discussing war, sports and trauma.  I would love for all of you to attend if possible.  If not, I would love to find time to link up and catch up on life!

I miss you all and look forward to crossing paths with as many of you as possible between May 19-21.

Here is the information (Feel free to share with others):

On May 20th at the New York Stock Exchange we are presenting the event War, Sports and the Healing Power of Nature.

I’m writing to request your assistance — as a valued supporter — would you consider being on the Host Committee? The event is to bring attention to the issue of brain injury and post-traumatic stress for veterans and the power that… Continue reading

Recently, I had the opportunity to speak with Brant Feldman, Vice President of Sales for ADS, Inc. Brant is a Navy SEAL, separated from the Navy after 11 years of service. Because this SEAL is a trusted family friend and one who knew his opinions would be treated in a thoughtful manner, he was willing to share his views about Post Traumatic Stress (PTS.) Brant’s friendship is an honor to enjoy.  This SEAL is now a successful corporate executive and is also trained as a lawyer. Not surprisingly, Brant had completed his due diligence before our call, having reviewed many posts on The Character Building Project site.


The purpose of the interview was to better understand the much lower incidence of PTS among the SEALs versus the greater incidence of PTS among other warriors. The first surprising comment Brant offered was he believed the successful completion of the… Continue reading


Before my recent trip to West Point, I had read a bit about General George Casey launching the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) program in 2008. However, I did not know that Mike Matthews involved Martin Seligman, the founder of the Positive Psychology movement, in planning and executing this important initiative.

The U.S. Corps of Cadets Color Guard prepares to pass the reviewing party.

The U.S. Corps of Cadets Color Guard prepares to pass the reviewing party.

The author of Head Strong not only exhibited humility from my first meeting, but after I had the opportunity to read Head Strong, I was struck by the fact that West Point had such an independent professor like Mike on its faculty. A thoughtful guy like Mike on the faculty told me much about West Point as well. The following is a fine example of Mike speaking truth to power:

“The military does a good job of teaching its soldiers to kill. But is does… Continue reading

Yesterday I was honored to discuss Post Traumatic Growth (PTG) at West Point not only with Cadets and Officers there, but also with such caring individuals as Doctor Caroline Angel whose reaction follows.

Mr. Kerrigan,

Thank you so much for your presentation this evening. I really enjoyed hearing
about the Warriors you profiled in your book and I am looking forward to
reading it.

I think the discussion of post traumatic growth is an incredibly important one. While I was driving home from USMA, I started thinking about PTG in the context of the health literature. As I mentioned, I am very much a student of this growing area of research and, dare I say, practice.

The story of trauma at least from the health perspective is lopsided (a quick
search of PUB med yielded a paltry 300 hits for posttraumatic growth and over
10,800 for posttraumatic stress); it is… Continue reading

Knowing of our interest in Post Traumatic Stress and Post Traumatic Growth, the following article by Tiffanie Wen of the Daily Beast was forwarded by a naval officer, physicist and good friend of The Character Building Project.

A study published in the Journal of the American Medical Association suggests that Israelis recover from post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) more quickly than people of other Western nations. The study compared people who experienced 18 months of terror during the Second Intifada to New Yorkers after 9/11 and found that the amount of PTSD in Israel was similar to New York. However, one and two months after the attack, PTSD was significantly higher in the U.S. than it was during the Second Intifada.

Other studies have shown that while the level of anxiety in Israel is typically higher than other Western nations, the level of clinical anxiety remains very low, even during periods… Continue reading

General, thank you for dropping the “D” in PTSD!

Readers please visit http://www.1mind4research.org/brain-disorder/post-traumatic-stress-pts to learn more about PTS.

General Peter Chiarelli, USA (Ret.) was appointed the Chief Executive Officer of One Mind for Research in 2012. He is a retired four-star General with 40 years of experience designing and implementing American defense policy for the U.S. Army and Department of Defense in peace and during combat operations.
As the 32nd Vice Chief of Staff in the Army, Chiarelli was responsible for the day-to-day operations of the Army and its 1.1 million active and reserve soldiers. This included the Army’s research, development and execution of studies followed by the implementation of recommendations related to the Army’s behavioral health programs, specifically its Health Promotion, Risk Reduction and Suicide Prevention Program.

As the CEO of One Mind for Research, Chiarelli continues his advocacy for eliminating the stigma associated with Service Members and Veterans… Continue reading

Whether we approach aiding wounded warriors from the perspective of Post Traumatic Stress (PTS) or Post Traumatic Growth (PTG), the goal of all, is to help these warriors feel less depression and feel greater levels of life satisfaction.

In researching Courage in America: Warriors with Character, I observed the powerful support of caregivers and the families of these warriors, were most effective, by helping warriors’ complete their rehabilitation with amazing patience and empathy.

Next, I learned considerable time is necessary for outsiders, such as myself, to gain the trust of the warrior and his or her family. Once trust is established, the warriors I met were willing to repeatedly, retell the story of their traumatic event. They allowed me great access and, in time, discussed how their lives have been changed by their injuries. I learned from those warriors that I chronicled; it is not the event of their injuries… Continue reading

On Veterans Day, my latest book, Courage in America: Warriors with Character will be available on Amazon (http://amzn.com/1604948728). Seven American warriors tell their stories of tragedy and triumph after suffering and recovering from traumatic war injuries. The book showcases the good character of these young heroes, their caregivers, and families. These stories will motivate newly injured to have hope during their own rehabilitation, and will give all Americans a better understanding of the sacrifices made by many military patriots.

You will meet traumatically injured warriors: Justin Constantine who was shot in the head by a sniper; Chad Ellinger who was crushed by a collapsing wall during combat; Sam Angert and Chase Cooper who suffered traumatic brain injuries from IEDs; Steve Baskis and Brad Snyder who lost their sight from IEDs; and Todd Nicely who lost his limbs from an IED. The warriors will share the sentiment that they did not… Continue reading

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Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.