Local veteran developing course for post battle trauma
By LYNETTE SOWELL
Ret. Lt. Col. Richard Beil, a retired Marine in Gatesville, is seeking individuals who would like to participate in a new method to help those suffering from the traumatic effects of combat.
This method focuses on reasoning ability rather than on the emotions triggered by traumatic events, Beil said.
“Since ancient times, we’ve recognized that emotions interfere with rational thinking. Plato described emotion and reason as two horses pulling us in opposite directions,” Beil added. “As children, we are controlled by our emotions. Through the maturation process, we gain new knowledge. This is processed and internalized by the rational part of our brain and reasoning begins to control our emotions. That’s what ‘growing up’ means”.
The instruction that’s being developed is based on the theory of “Just War,” Beil said.
In the Judeo-Christian tradition, there are certain conditions that must be met in order for war to be justified, he said. Once war has commenced, there are limitations on how the war may be conducted. It is from this tradition that the laws of war, rules of engagement, and international treaties, such as the Geneva Convention, derive.
Beil said he’s chosen the Just War theory because it deals directly with the environment in which the trauma occurred, saying it lies at the intersection of history, political science, philosophy, and religion.
“In this respect, it is interdisciplinary,” Beil further stated. “It’s not difficult to understand, but it can be difficult to rationally articulate a position on the subject. One doesn’t often get the opportunity to help create a college course and it’s the mental exercise required that is at the heart of this approach.”
He likens the brain’s actions and responses to those of muscles in the body.
“All the latest research says that the brain is no different than the muscles in the body. It needs exercise to stay youthful and fit. My hypothesis is that the trauma experienced on the battlefield has caused the emotional side of the brain to overwhelm the rational. Rather than continuing an emotional focus, what if we stimulate the reasoning power of the brain to reestablish a better equilibrium with those emotions?”
Beil said the course is still very much in the development stage. The meeting times, frequency and location will be driven by what the group would like to do.
Beil is seeking a broad cross-section of participants to develop the course, with active military personnel and veterans welcome to offer valuable contributions through their experiences.
Coryell County Judge John Firth, a retired Army Colonel, weighed in on the initiative Beil has announced.
“Having led men in combat in Vietnam and during Operation Desert Storm, I know what war is like. I know the stresses combat soldiers are under. I’ve seen the aftereffects of those stresses first hand,” Firth said. “I believe Lt. Col. Beil is really on to something and I wholeheartedly endorse his approach. I hope there will be quite a number of individuals who will volunteer to participate.”
Those interested in participating may contact Beil via email at firstname.lastname@example.org. Beil is currently represents Coryell County on the Veterans Service Alliance of Central Texas and has volunteered for Operation Stand Down Central Texas.