Missing combat days? Expert says that's a warning sign.

Phil Briggs
July 30, 2019 - 12:15 pm
Soldiers from 1st Infantry Division, 3rd Brigade Reconnaissance Troop fight insurgents in Fallujah Iraq, Nov 2004

1st Lt. Kimberly Snow/196th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

Would you go back to combat if you could?

If you answered yes, then you might be in danger and not even know it. 

Duane France is a Clinical Mental Health Counselor, and an Army combat vet with 22 years of military experience. On this episode of The CV Report, he explores the fine line between fond memories and a state of mind that can easily lead to depression ... or worse. 

France, who offers veterans mental health advice on the Headspace & Timing podcast said, "There's the nostalgia piece of it, the grass is always greener in the yards we used to be in. In the Army, we used to have a saying the best unit was the one you used to be in."

Duane Frane, mental health counselor

But France recalled that even as a mental health counselor, he has found himself looking back at those days and feeling sentimental.  He recalled doing a mental exercise with a colleague who asked him to close his eyes and visualize his favorite place in the world.  The place where he would go, if everything was taken care of, i.e.; wife, kids, family, income, etc "It really struck me that my first thought was I'd go back to RC-East Afghanistan, which was my second combat deployment," said France. "It was extremely kinetic, multiple firefights ... we were on patrol every couple of days. People were injured, people lost limbs, we lost people on that deployment ... it was tough. But looking back on it, it's the time that I appreciated the most, I'm still connected with a large amount of the people I deployed with. It was literally the best of days and the worst of days, and that's a common feeling among most veterans."

Missing Life in the Fastlane

Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Divisions 3rd Brigade Reconnaissance Troop clear houses in Fallujah during Operation Al-Fajr
Photo by 1st Lt. Kimberly Snow

Above: It's easy to understand why vets love those days- both thrilling and terrifying. Soldiers from the 1st Infantry Divisions 3rd Brigade Reconnaissance Troop clear houses in Fallujah during Operation Al-Fajr Nov. 15, 2004.  

3rd Brigade Combat Team CSM John D. Fourhman, fires at insurgents, during Operation Al-Fajr in Fallujah November 2004
Photo by 1st Lt. Kimberly Snow

Above: 3rd Brigade Combat Team CSM John D. Fourhman joins scouts from the 2nd Battalion 2nd Infantry Regiment during a day of clearing operations during Operation Al-Fajr in Fallujah Nov. 15, 2004.

France explains that for veterans "awareness" is the important first step.

"When it goes beyond just reminiscing and meeting up with buddies and laughing over good times... to rumination ... constantly focusing on those days, and saying 'man I wish I were back.' It's important for the veterans to recognize it. Say to themselves, 'there's something in my life right now that's causing me to want to be nostalgic.'" 

Hear more about the suggestions France has for veterans and how we can all improve our mental health on The CV Report.

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Follow Phil Briggs @philbriggsVet