264Training Manual from Return to Harvest

for combat veterans and others suffering from PTSD


            Even though I will be addressing for the most part combat veterans, the training is for anyone suffering from PTSD or any other type of anxiety to include stress, panic, phobia, or obsessive-compulsive disorder. Adjust the training to fit your situation.

            The training system is most effective in a group setting. If there is no group available, under the guidance of a counselor, you can find some help in going through the training on your own.

“…you have to understand that when we come to Afghanistan, part of us never leaves. Part of me will always be here, among the mountains, among the suffering that I’ve seen. Most of us learn to live without that part of ourselves. Some of us don’t. And the truth is, the gap between us soldiers and those who have never been to war, those who have not seen and so cannot understand is unbridgeable. For some of us, the loneliness – the inability to explain – goes on and on. The Army does what it can, but in the space inside us where the war never ends, everything it does will never be enough. I’ve lost five soldiers I knew personally to suicide in the past 18 months. I don’t say any of this lightly, but there are some torments that all the health care and all the support in the world will not ease. If this war has taught me anything, it has most certainly taught me that.”

Sergeant Alexandra Grey, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan

August 6, 2012                                                         As it appeared in Time Magazine

            This comment by SGT Grey has encouraged me to design the format so it can be used in a peer group setting of two or more people. If this is of interest to you, find a counselor who can help you get it started. This counselor would be an observer/advisor until the group is ready to meet on its’ own. Each session, the group would rotate leadership. The leader would be responsible for conducting the meeting.

            This manual is designed like a workbook. You are free to make copies of any portion of this manual. Someone in the group must copy all the sessions from this site and put them in a notebook. This will serve as the rotating leader’s training manual. In addition, handouts from the training manual must be copied and given to each group member. The leader for each session would be responsible for making copies of the handouts which are designated at the top of the page. Each participant will need a notebook to store those copies and other notes associated with homework assignments for the next training session. It will also store personal notes about your progress and other topics related to the training.

          During the sessions, you will be asked to listen to closed eyes exercises. I call these “Centering Meditations.” (CM) You will also be asked to listen to different ones as part of your assignment for the next session. Each group member will need a copy of these meditations. They can be downloaded free of charge on the “download” link. I will refer to them in the manual as “CM1”, “CM2”,  etc. As you progress deeper into the training experience, make note of the CM’s you find most helpful. These favorites can be used on a regular basis after the completion of this training experience.

            When you are meeting in the group, take off your watches and turn off your phones. For work outside the group, you will need a watch or phone that chimes on the hour and has a timer. It will be important that everything said and done in the group is confidential. Nothing goes out of the room unless the group decides otherwise.

            The group is designed to be eight sessions, but it may take more sessions to complete the training manual. The leader for each group will read from the manual and take the group through that particular session. The length of the session is up to the group. I would suggest 60-90 minutes. You may not have time to finish the session within the time limit. In that case, pick up the next session at the point you stopped.

            Each session is built on the information and training of the previous session. In a perfect world, you would start with a group and end with that same group. There may soldiers who want to join at any point in the training. I suggest you allow that to happen. They can catch up by reading the material on their own and by members of the group helping them catch up. Teaching this training to someone else is a helpful way to more thoroughly learn it yourself.

            The sessions will follow the same content of the sessions in the novel. These will be abbreviated so if you have questions or want more information on the training in any particular session, refer to the same session in the novel.

            This peer group design will be experimental in the beginning. I will be making changes on this link to my website based on my experience in working with the design. There will be some rough places. Be patient and stay with the most important part of this experience: the training.

            Many people avoid groups and asking for help. If you have read the novel, not one of the ten soldiers liked groups or wanted to be involved in a group. At the end of the eight group sessions, they decided to continue meeting even though they only signed up for the eight sessions. This has been my experience with the many groups I have worked with over the years.

            One reason for the peer group approach is that each member of the group will have felt the way you may be feeling now. Regardless of the nature of your trauma, someone in the group will understand what it was like and what you went through during those experiences of hell. Each one of you must be desperate for help and committed to finding some inner peace, meaning, and happiness in your life.

            This group is not designed to sit around and talk about your war experiences and then leave. The group is designed to teach you the skills you will need to move forward with your life.

            This is a training manual and this is a training experience. The goal is to excite a perception that you have the resources inside you that can assist in your healing process. Those changes come through learning and practicing the skills you will need to reach your goals. I like to think of that as training. You can be in training to run a marathon, to be a soldier, to be a musician, to be carpenter, to be a mechanic, to be a physician and so on. You will be training to help heal some of the scars left over from combat and other traumatic experiences.

            Each of you possesses inside of you everything you need to move toward and discover a deep and abiding inner peace, meaning and purpose in your life, and happiness. We will explore a path that can lead to those states of mind. In my view, it’s never about finding the path. It’s about finding a path that works for you. And in most cases, it will work for you directly proportional to your commitment to make it work.

            It will take a special kind of motivation and determination to be a part of this training experience. I hope you will make the choice to engage this training program.