Tomorrow morning I fly to Florida for an intensive weekend training with Opus Peace. I will be trained as a Soul Injury Ambassador to host ceremonial workshops designed to help PTSD affected veterans tend their Soul Injuries from war and before. My attendance in this training is truly a community effort, and I thank each and every person who supports this endeavor, with donations of money and energy to get me there! I’m not sure what will happen once I learn these practices, but I know that I will be gaining more skills to do better, what I am already doing in Tucson and beyond. I assist people in their healing of Soul Injuries, Wounds and Traumas, and I am honored when asked to do so.
Thank you for supporting me and this work.
I am the daughter of a combat veteran in the Vietnam war. You too probably have a family warrior story. How a loved one, or an ancestor, came home different, or didn’t come home. War affects all. It quietly and quickly, like a spirit in the night, seeps into those who participate. And then those warriors bring it home. To spouses, to children. Like a virus, it spreads through the community and leaves the strongest diminished, and those who love, afraid.
I am a shamanic practitioner by vocation. I was called to shamanize at the age of 27. My father — a two tour veteran of the Vietnam war — struggled with Post Traumatic Stress, heart sadness and alcoholism all his adult life. However, he was not diagnosed with PTSD until 1992, during a phase when I was estranged from him. My father died when I was in my 30s, in 2004. I had been learning about my shamanic calling since 1997, which helped me come to peace with my father in his last two years. This is a great gift. Using the tools of my shamanic work, I was able to come to terms within myself, about those things i did not get, or got too much of, from my parents as archetypes. Most importantly, I was able to work directly with my father when he was at his lowest, and we were honest about our pain, and talked as father and daughter, before he passed from this world.
Due to this emotional “coming home” before he died, I was able to write a book after his death, which I named “Accepting the Ashes- A Daughter’s Look at PTSD”. That name comes from me having the box of ashes, that used to be his body, after he died. It was up to me to decide what to do with them. Writing that little book helped heal me, and my experience with the shamanic world, that the world is alive and we are a part of it, helped me be able to heal my past, help my father, and my book is now helping other veterans around the country.
About 5 years ago I received a message from Deborah Grassman, A VA Hospice Nurse at the time, thanking me for writing my little book, and included was a copy of her book Peace at Last . She had provided services to thousands of dying veterans during her 30 year career and she came to see the special needs of veterans who had untended Soul Injuries. A VA chaplain gave her my book.
A year or two later Deborah was in Tucson offering a talk at a local conference, and she invited me to say a few words about my book. I was honored to say Yes. A year or so later I heard that she retired from the VA and co-founded a nonprofit called Opus Peace. She, and others, are now on a mission to bring the idea of Soul Injury to the health care system, as well as veterans, their families and others with PTSD.
I have had such a strong calling to blend my worlds and find a way to help PTSD affected veterans tend to their Soul Wounds from war and before. In July I received an invitation from Deborah Grassman and Opus Peace to participate in their first ever training to become a Soul Injury Ambassador, to be able to lead ceremonial workshops for groups of 10-300. These deep experiences can be focused for veterans, people in the community with PTSD, as well as professional caregivers. This is the way for me to do this work. I trust Deborah, and her colleagues have the expertise to teach me how to share this sacred work with the people who need it. In my own way I will bring my shamanic soul mending experience to this work.