How Veterans Experience The Rush of Combat

Written by Steve Rose

Steve Rose, PhD, is an addiction counsellor who assists those struggling with substance abuse, gambling, gaming, and internet addiction.

I’m looking for a rush, I’m looking for a reason to help people,
I want near deadly experiences, I want an apocalypse of this world,
I want everything to go bad, I want you all to fucking need me to fucking save your life.

Our tracers were red, their tracers were green,
At night you would see red and green tracers going back and forth, one to five ratio.
It was an addiction to have the adrenaline going through you every day.

Jumping out of a plane is better than any orgasm I’ve ever had.
Talk about peak life experiences… coming off of that and going into a sedentary job…
…it’s like the world is moving in slow motion.

The first months walking in Afghanistan you’re fucking petrified…
It’s that bone chilling fucking feeling: “did I take the wrong step?”
That happens for three weeks or a month, until becomes normal.

For six months or whatever, you’re really in the shit,
You’re in the thick of it, you are really doing something;
You’re doing something that people are talking about.

You’re doing something that’s cool,
You’re doing something with your friends,
It’s hard, it’s crazy, and it feels like you’re really alive for the first time in your life.

When you come back and your don’t have that anymore, it’s hard.
It’s hard to think to yourself, “I’m never going to do that again, I’m never going to be that cool again, I’m never going to be able to go back to that.”

*This piece is based on 35 interviews with Canadian Veterans of Afghanistan. Quotes were thematically extracted from my interviews and lines were pieced together to form the above narrative. The definition of PTSD in the image does not reflect my views on PTSD as defined by the DSM-V. Rather, it offers a way to talk about issues beyond PTSD. I also want to say thank-you to the Canadian Veterans who gave their time and insight in the interviews.

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*As an affiliate partner with Better Help and, I may receive a referral fee if you purchase products or services through the links provided.

To find local support, use the Psychology Today therapist directory here.

As always, it is important to be critical when seeking help, since the quality of counselors and therapists are not consistent. Also, one of the most important factors in successful treatment is the quality of the therapeutic relationship. If you are not feeling supported, it is important to seek out another practitioner.

Curious if online therapy works? I wrote an article here, looking at the evidence.

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*As an affiliate partner, I may receive a commission if you sign up for a free trial. 

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