Alice Ours Vitiello is a freelance writer and editor, with a Ph.D. in Comparative Literature from the University of Pennsylvania. Most recently, she helped to edit "Navigating Chaos: Finding Certainty in Uncertain Situations," by author and T&P contributor Jeff Boss. A passionate supporter of the U.S. military, she volunteers her fundraising services in support of the SEAL Future Fund and Special Operations Warrior Foundation.
There’s no need to reiterate the common platitudes about post-traumatic stress disorder that we’ve all heard before, focusing on demystifying the “invisible wounds of war.” The conversation has moved beyond that now, and post-traumatic stress is no longer being looked at as a “disorder” but as a normal reaction to abnormally stressful circumstances.
In his 20-year career as a Navy SEAL, Brian “Iron Ed” Hiner rose through the ranks to become one of the most experienced SEAL trainers in the history of the organization. This month, he released his first book, “First, Fast, Fearless: How to Lead Like a Navy SEAL,” a detailed account of the leadership lessons that he both learned and taught while serving as head of all basic and advanced SEAL training on both coasts.
When a civilian like me starts asking a veteran certain questions, things can get awkward, fast. The reality is, though, that even if we have enough tact not to ask, we’re still going to wonder. Let’s face it; in many ways, veterans and civilians are from different planets. Still, this doesn’t mean that you can’t learn to speak each other’s language, appreciate each other’s culture, and even inhabit one another’s worlds. Here’s what your civilian friends are really wondering about you and what they really mean when some of these uncomfortable questions inevitably slip out.