HARKER HEIGHTS — In the ongoing effort to help veterans and soldiers cope with post-traumatic stress, Vintage Church in Harker Heights held its first Reboot Combat Recovery Course meeting last week with 60 people attending.
The church is non-denominational and, although the course is faith influenced, everyone regardless of religious preference is encouraged to attend.
Jenny and Evan Owens based the 12-week course off “The Combat Trauma Healing Manual” by Chris Adsit.
Lawrence Schmidle, a lead instructor and active-duty soldier in the Army, opened up the course by explaining what PTSD is.
“What if war didn’t only wound the mind, but the soul?” asked Schmidle. “Some experiences have forever changed your soul.”
The first course, held Tuesday, was broken up into four blocks: dinner and fellowship, ice breaker/news and updates, lesson and table discussion.
To keep everyone engaged, each table had a team leader.
The course syllabus has three goals: to find healing for your soul, strengthen and restore family relationships, and continue to serve and connect in your community.
Schmidle used a metaphor to refer to PTSD as a tree that had physical fruit and spiritual roots.
The “physical fruit” were things everyone could see, and the spiritual roots where things that were the “root” cause of the physical fruit, he said.
Examples he used for physical fruit were anxiety, depression, anger and resentment and examples he used for spiritual roots were identity, not being able to forgive, grief and wisdom.
Schmidle shared his take on forgiveness.
“You don’t need to keep that rucksack on when you come home,” Schmidle said. “You won’t be forgiven, if you don’t forgive yourself.”
Schmidle said the reason so many veterans have a hard time forgiving themselves is because of their experiences.
“We are not what has happened to us, we should not identify with those experiences,” Schmidle said. “Our experiences are not who we are.”
Zheilad Schmidle, a lead instructor, is a stay-at-home mother of four and served 10 years in the Army.
She shared that the hardest part of being an Army wife was waiting for her husband to come back from deployments.
Zheilad Schmidle was originally asked to help with the spouses’ Bible study, but now is a lead instructor.
She expressed her sadness for other dual-married veterans dealing with PTSD.
“I’ve seen marriages fall apart,” said Zheilad Schmidle. “It was too normal.”
Ignaseio Cattlin, creator director for the program, said his father served 28 years in the Army.
Cattlin said the program “brings a lot of light to a thing that’s hard to talk about.”
Reboot Combat Recovery Course is held every Tuesday at 6 p.m. at Vintage Church, 750 E. Central Texas Expressway, until graduation on April 10.
Veterans and their families are allowed to register up until the third week of the course at REBOOTrecovery.com/join.