Meet F. Damon Friedman, a current Air Force Special Tactics Officer who felt a yearning to share a side of military service that is spoken of often but rarely understood. After putting everything together, this idea soon became the fast-paced documentary, “Surrender Only to ONE” which delves into the ocean that is PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder) and how military veterans deal with these feelings after returning home or severing ties with the service. Even more importantly, what tactic is it that they use to find peace with these domineering feelings?
In the film, we meet various veterans with different stories about what it was like trying to adjust to a normal civilian life beyond the military. One ex-soldier recalls going into a club one weekend night with friends as he attempted to have a fun evening out on the town. What he experienced next was completely unexpected, as he recalls viewing the room much like he was keeping an eye out for the enemy. This dance floor turned into more like a battleground. The loud sounds of the bass and music in the club began to disturb him in almost a war-like manner. Granted, said veteran couldn’t enjoy his time at the club due to his mind becoming hard-wired to fight for his life. This is a classic example of PTSD.
Problems like this occur during time served in war-times. These brave military warriors don’t even realize how their minds soak in their environments and how quickly the human spirit can adapt to ominous circumstances. It becomes apparent that one is fighting for his/her existence, hearing explosions, being shot at, seeing sights that no person should have to see on a regular basis. Ultimately and because of this, these soldiers have the tendency to develop PTSD. PTSD is a mental or emotional stress that occurs as a result of injury or severe psychological shock. Some of these service folks end up bringing these new mental wounds home with them and maybe not ever realizing it, which causes conflict between family and friends.
I set out to get a little bit of personal opinion from Executive Producer and Writer of the film, F. Damon Friedman, and I left with a deeper understanding:
What are some common things people with PTSD struggle with?
We know that a percentage of people that have separated from military service that deal with PTSD have used self-help programs such as counseling, among other things, but the truth is that these only work temporarily. When you add alcohol and painkillers to the equation, it can become common for spousal abuse and child abuse whether it be verbal or physical. Put these together and it’s a recipe for disaster. Too many of these guys and gals find themselves in a really dark place all of the sudden, where they make a catastrophic decision and that’s often suicide.
"Surrender Only to ONE" centers around having faith in God to overcome trials that are physical or mental. How has this impacted you emotionally?
Here’s a brief example/story: This friend of mine now, he called me one day out of the blue and he tells me that he’s lost everything. I didn’t even recognize the phone number before I answered it. He’s telling me that he’s got a gun and the rounds are in the chamber as I’m listening to him pour out his pain over the phone. I’ve never met this guy before, but I learn that he’s prior special forces. This young man was very decorated with valor, two purple hearts. He’s dealing with massive PTSD and tells me on the phone “nobody loves me, I’ve lost everything, I’m bankrupt” and at that point in time he did burn every relationship he had. I believed his story. But I was able to turn him away from making a terrible decision.
If you are struggling with what to make of yourself, then know that there’s power in something beyond humanity. You’ve got to know you were made for a purpose. All the gifts and skills you’ve got are remarkable. Even when it comes to the military you’ve got to consider that only like 1 percent of Americans sign on the bottom line. He has an amazing purpose for you. You’re unique and special, let's figure out what that mission is for you. It’s about a relationship, not religion. I hate religion. It’s much deeper than that.
If a young individual came up to you and wanted advice for his or her future, what could you tell them?
I admire anybody who is genuinely interested in serving our nation. And I just have to throw this out there for everyone: Somebody has to defend this nation, regardless of what party you feel you belong to. There are extreme terrorists out there that hate Americans just because you are American. I don’t even know how many terrorist cells there are that are planning to bomb our nation at this moment. We have all these branches of service; I believe it’s an honorable thing to serve. Spiritually, we all deal with ebbs and flows some high highs and low lows. Let me tell you something…the God of the universe wants to have a personal relationship with you and if you have him on your side, you’re in it to win it. That is what I would say to this young person.
Surrender Only to ONE is playing in churches and venues throughout the country.
The DVD was released on Sept 11, 2016. Visit www.sofmissions.com/shop
You can follow this article's author, Dan Fecht, on Twitter: @realdanfecht
Written by: Daniel Fecht