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David W. Powell enlisted for a tour of duty in April 1966 with the US Marines after receiving an imminent draft notice. Believing he would be able to leverage his existing skills as a computer programmer, he never thought all they would see on his resume was his Karate expertise. Even less that he would wind up serving as a Rocket man in the jungles of Da Nang and Chu Lai for a 13 month tour in hell.
David’s journey from naive civilian to battle-hardened combat veteran shows us all how fragile our humanity really is. In addition to killing the enemy on the field of battle, he was witness to countless cruelties including murder both cold-blooded and casual, cowardice under fire, and a callous disregard for life beyond most people’s imagination. With each new insult, he lost a little bit of his soul, clinging to his Bible as his only solace while equally certain of his own demise.
Upon returning to civilian life after a two year enlistment, he found himself with nightmares during sleep, intrusive thoughts while awake, a hypervigilant stance combined with an exaggerated startle reaction, and a seeming inability to control basic emotions like anger and sadness. The price he paid for what would only be diagnosed decades later as Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder was broken marriages and relationships, inability to hold down jobs leading to bankruptcy, alcohol abuse, and having to hide the service he willingly gave to his own country.
In 1989, David eventually recovered through a simple but powerful technique known as Traumatic Incident Reduction (TIR) and is now symptom-free. Not just for veterans, TIR has since been successfully applied to crime and motor vehicle accident victims, domestic violence survivors, and even children. His story shows what is possible for anyone who has suffered traumatic stress and that hope, healing, and recovery can be theirs too.