Warrior: How to Support Those that Protect Us

"I stand behind Shauna Springer and her work. She understands the importance of Tribe and has valuable insights to share."

Sebastian Junger
Best-selling author of the books Tribe and War

The story goes that a boy of Sparta stole a fox and concealed it under his cloak. As he was sitting in the classroom, surrounded by other students and instructors, the fox began to eat his mid-section. The boy sat without moving – in plain view of lots of people - while the fox continued to hollow out his stomach, until finally, without a cry of pain, he suddenly dropped dead. The legend of the boy of Sparta has been used to illustrate the value the Spartan culture placed on stoicism, in other words, suffering in silence. But I think the story is actually about shame. In fact, in Gates of Fire, a depiction of the Spartans and the epic Battle of Thermopylae, author Steven Pressfield artfully alludes to the proverbial fox when speaking of “the secret shame of the warrior: the knowledge within his own heart that he could have done better, done more, done it more swiftly or with less self-preserving hesitation; this censure…gnawed unspoken and unrelieved at the men’s guts.”[1]

Hidden pain is like a hungry fox in our gut. It can silently, steadily hollow us out over time. Suffering in silence can be dangerous, even lethal in some cases. As a society, we are fighting a war against hopelessness, a war that is both widely publicized and intensely private. Each year, we lose more citizens to suicide than to car accidents, homicide, or hostile acts of war. Hidden pain affects all of us, including many of the strongest citizens in our society – our combat warfighters. Warrior brings the worlds of the warrior and the non-military American citizen together to shine new light on things that many of us thought we understood: for example, how to build trust, how to overcome stigma, how to approach conversations about firearm safety, how to understand the suicidal mind, and how to create a meaningful existence. Shauna Springer (known to many veterans as “Doc Springer”) offers us a window into how our bravest citizens may struggle and draws from the experiences of our warfighters to help us understand true courage and the bonds of love that keep all of us in the fight. 

[1] Pressfield, Steven. 1998. Gates of Fire. Bantam Books, New York, NY (p. 147-148).

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