Michael J. Kerrigan



The following was excerpted from a much longer and excellent article by Sebastian Junger at http://www.vanityfair.com/news/2015/05/ptsd-war-home-sebastian-junger and was brought to our attention by a close friend, naval officer, scientist and devoted reader of The Character Building Project.

PTSD is a natural response to danger. From an evolutionary perspective, it’s exactly the response you want to have when your life is in danger: you want to be vigilant, you want to react to strange noises, you want to sleep lightly and wake easily, you want to have flashbacks that remind you of the danger. It’s almost unavoidable in the short term and mostly self-correcting in the long term.

The American military now has the highest PTSD rate in its history – and probably in the world. PTSD claims to the Veterans Administration have reportedly risen 60% to 150,000 a year. Anthropological research from around the world shows that recovery from… Continue reading


Make time to watch Lara Logan’s 60 Minutes episode story on The Heroes Project. Last nights 60 Minutes story was on a former Hells Angels biker finding his life’s purpose by helping gravely wounded veterans climb the world’s Seven Summits.

It is awe inspiring to watch Marine Brad Ivanchan, a double amputee climb the summits of South America Mt. Aconcagua. Brad Ivanchan lost both legs while serving in Afghanistan. He says the hardest part of summiting Mt. Aconcagua was battling the elements.

Warriors like Brad got out of their hospital beds, got off their meds to take on enormous physical pain yet gain psychological relief by making such arduous climbs.

These warriors are excellent examples of post-traumatic growth (PTG) and could teach many in the psychology profession about triumphing over trauma. Perhaps the profession should devote more resources to studying PTG rather than characterizing such heroes as having a “disorder.”



As a young student, I felt conflicted trying to understand why good men suffer. My father, James Kerrigan was a humble, good and God fearing man yet suffered with tuberculosis, seven years in the sanitarium and 13 major operations, dying at age 62! On the other hand, my father was also a dedicated and happy husband, a most cheerful family man, and an extraordinary athlete, notwithstanding his many years of disabilities. Justice should have delivered prosperity to my Dad yet his life was full of adversity.

My father’s most repeated advice to me was that “Michael, it is not what happens but how you handle what happens that counts.” In addition to bestowing the moniker of “Golden Boy” on me, my Dad shared many books with me as he made the best of his years in the sanitarium by being a voracious reader. However, the two books he cherished… 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

Adm. McRaven

By Daniel P. Crandall

Chair, PTG Sports Caucus


When the issue is helping wounded warriors, be they veterans or active duty personnel, no solution should be off the table. A recent difference between Admiral William McRaven, leader of the Special Operations Command (SOCOM), and the House Armed Services Committee, unfortunately, is not following this truism. Adm. McRaven sought funding for what might be considered a ‘both/and’ approach to minimize the symptoms of Post Traumatic Stress Injuries (PTSI—a designation many prefer over the more commonly known PTSD diagnosis). Legislators, however, declared there is only one method to help veterans at risk and that is the only method they are willing to fund.

On 15 May, the Washington Post reported that Adm. McRaven had requested additional funding “to hire physical therapists, dietitians, sports psychologists and strength and conditioning specialists to work with troops” in order to address the increasing rate of… Continue reading



Thank you Lt. Chris Pinkerton for today’s WSJ article… “Duty and Pity.” You have your finger an a most important issue…”there is something unsettling about the way we so often choose to think about those who served.” Your comments putting the scale of so called PTSD (I prefer the term PTSI) has indeed played out in our national dialogue and says a lot about the sad state of our culture that choose to pity rather than respect hose who have served in uniform. There are not only far too many “ticking time bomb” articles but also “ticking time bomb” studies that choose to focus on disorders. A PTSD data base is not only a slippery slope “like a sex offender registry” but also ignores all those who have been made stronger by their service, their combat and their successful rehabilitation from traumatic injuries.

For examples of post traumatic growth… Continue reading

Jessica Tyra is a stay-at-home mother, student, Army wife, and runner. She is also a wounded veteran who finds healing and growth through regular workouts with Team Red, White, and Blue (Team RWB).

Jessica Tyra Team RWB

At the time her second deployment in Iraq, Jessica Tyra was a single mother. Imagine the stress a single mother faces living far from her only child. Compound that with living and working at a Forward Operating Base (FOB) in Iraq where contact with her son, who at the time lived with Jessica’s parents, was limited and sporadic due to technical issues. That stress increases several times over with the threat that comes with receiving, as she puts it, “indirect fire almost daily, and many of the attacks were deadly.”


One month before she was scheduled to leave Iraq a shrapnel from a volley from one of the attacks struck her.


“On March 20, 2008… Continue reading

This power message offering the warrior  perspective  on GWOT and PTSI is being widely read among my friends in the military and is circulated with their permission. Please see… http://www.oafnation.com/musings-of-a-grey-man/2014/3/10/when-the-music-stops



“I want to be dead with my friends….where the iron sharpens the iron.”-

I am bearing witness to the end of an era. I have the distinct blessing, or the agonizing misfortune of having front-row seats to the death throes of a creature that has defined a generation. This creature is what my buddies and I refer to as the Global War On Terror (GWOT for short). 13 years, thousands of lives, trillions of dollars, and two presidents later, those of us who contributed our very being to this endeavor are left thinking, “What now?”

On May 23, 2013, POTUS Obama declared the GWOT “over.” Just like that. Done. Finished. It felt to my brothers… Continue reading

By Daniel Crandall, member of the “PTG Working Group”


The Los Angeles Times inadvertently makes the case for changing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI). The latter designation being one that many think will do more to aid those who have suffered traumatic psychological injury.


The UCSB student Senate has called for professors to issue “trigger warnings”, i.e., “cautions … added to … course syllabi, specifying which days’ lectures will include readings or films or discussions that might trigger feelings of emotional or physical distress.” An LA Times editorial opposes “trigger warnings” as an infringement on academic freedom. In its effort to protect academic freedom it has perpetuated the idea that those who have been diagnosed with PTSD are disordered and must receive special treatment. The Times’ editorial states,


“There are students who suffer from post-traumatic stress disorder, a serious psychological condition… Continue reading

Last week, the Character Building Project joined the posttraumaticinjury.org campaign by endorsing  the name change from Posttraumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to Post Traumatic Stress Injury (PTSI.) Since then our readers have asked to be informed of articles and scholarly papers supporting this change; several of which follow.

An Injury Is Not A Disorder

By Frank Ochberg-  Military Review



Army General Calls for Changing Name of PTSD

Some members of the Army hope that renaming Post Traumatic Stress Disorder as an injury will encourage more soldiers to seek help.  By Daniel Sagalyn



Possible Compromise on Labeling of Combat-Related PTSD

Some Army officers and mental health advocates have been calling for a change in the “PTSD” moniker on the basis that calling it a “disorder” is stigmatizing soldiers and preventing them from getting the help they need. By Dan Sagalyn



Psychiatric Community Still… Continue reading

It is time for layman to join the growing chorus of academics, clinicians, journalists and public health professionals by adding our voices in supporting the paradigm shift of dropping the notion of a disorder and substituting a more accurate terms of post traumatic stress injuries (PTSI). By doing so, the stigma of a disorder will be greatly reduced and by substituting the term injury, a more medically defensible definition can be used without carrying the stigma notion.

In my opinion, psychotherapy has too long focused solely on the detrimental effects of trauma and has, thus, confined understanding of trauma recovery to a deficit-oriented model. In lay terms that means study of “what is lost.”  The concept of changing to PTSI leads to the possibilities of post-traumatic growth (PTG.) PTG adds a new perspective, “what is gained.”

Warriors Do Not Need Added "Stigma" of a Disorder

Warriors Do Not Need Added “Stigma” of a Disorder

In visiting scores of… Continue reading

Sign Up for Updates
For a limited time, grab a FREE copy of the book, Courage in America: Warriors with Character
Mottoes & Quotes
For the Visually Impaired
Courage in America has been aurally transcribed for the visually impaired, thanks to Volunteers of Vacaville, California. Tel: 704.448.6841 ext 2044.