Warrior Rising – A Soldiers’ Journey to PTSD and Back

LCol Chris Linford with his book Warrior Rising

LCol Chris Linford wrote a book about his journey with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). This book called Warrior Rising – A Soldier’s Journey to PTSD and Back will be launching this spring. Seen here he holds the book cover and his dog Murphy, who served as a comfort dog during his illness.

LCol Chris Linford is using his experiences with Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) to help others fight this illness through a book he penned.

Warrior Rising – A Soldiers’ Journey to PTSD and Back is his way of passing on the information and tools used during his healing process.

“I wrote this book to help other veterans recover from this injury. I wrote it for their families and also for the clinicians who treat the injured veterans,” he says. “My book touches on my deployments and recovery. It chronicles my traumas, how they made me feel and how they impacted my personality and my family.”

His PTSD stemmed from two deployments: Rwanda and Afghanistan.

First, in 1994 as a nursing officer, he was deployed to Rwanda to help manage a cholera epidemic.

“Our personnel were not prepared to witness the amount of deaths and severe injuries we observed, and it was extremely difficult as most of the deaths were children under the age of five,” he said.

After the deployment, and for the next 10 years, he suffered from PTSD. He knew he had it, but he was at a loss for what to do. He fought the stigma. Eventually the illness led him to insomnia. Finally, he sought medical care. He was put on medication while receiving treatment with the Canadian Forces for PTSD and depression. After a year and a half he thought he had beaten it.

Then his illness returned in 2009 during a seven-month deployment to Afghanistan as the Executive Officer of the NATO surgical hospital.

“I was exposed to significant trauma during this deployment. My style of leadership is to be where the hard work is being done by the troops. I was exposed on a daily basis to a significant amount of human carnage and death for a seven month period. By the end of my tour I knew my PTSD and depression had returned,” he says.

The help he received after this deployment changed his life. He began one-on-one therapy with Dr. Kate Diskin, a CF clinical Psychologist.

“The therapy was difficult. It forced me to look back at all the traumas I had been exposed to in Afghanistan and Rwanda. This was truly painful, especially since I felt I had dealt with Rwanda, but apparently I had a lot of work still to do,” he says.
After two sessions a week for more than a year and half, he learned new techniques to deal with the triggers of his traumas causing the PTSD, depression and anxiety.

“Over time I began feeling well again,” he says. “But I also learned how this impacted my family. My wife had protected the kids from me and my anger for years, and had played the middle role between us to ensure things stayed calm in the house.”
With the suggestion of his physician he bought a support dog named Murphy to keep him company.

He learned about the Outward Bound veterans program where small groups of veterans participate in challenging activities and speak about their military experiences and traumas.

“I was impressed by this activity and how it made me feel, and I felt for the first time in a long time that I wasn’t alone with my injury. I could actually help others and receive help as well,” he said.

Dr. Marvin Westwood, from the University of B.C., ran the Veteran’s Transition Program, and after LCol Linford took this program Dr. Westwood encouraged him to write a book about his journey to better health, drawing from his journal entries that chronicled Rwanda and Afghanistan.

“Dr. Westwood said this book wasn’t about me, it was about those people I could help. That put the fire in my belly to get it done,” he says. “Writing this book was very therapeutic. It made me think in extreme detail to build the context of the story. I had to set the scene for those who weren’t there; I had to describe the trauma, the sights, smells and what I experienced, and told the story through the trauma. This book is intended to help veterans who have not yet come forward and who are suffering in silence. My intention is to show an example.”

He began writing in January of 2012 and in six months he completed the first draft.

“I wrote seven days a week and essentially took it on as my job. My wife was very supportive, letting me do what I had to do. I felt very driven to get the book out. I wanted to send the message that you shouldn’t feel shame about having this injury. Help is available.”

Currently, LCol Linford is on transitional employment working for The Veteran’s Transition Program out of UBC, which is a 10-day residential program for veterans with operational stress injuries such as PTSD.

After 25 years of full time service and eight years as a reservist, his military time is nearly over as he will be medically released later this year.

He will continue to help veterans suffering with PTSD through his work as a facilitator with the Veterans’ Transition Program.

Warrior Rising – A Soldiers’ Journey to PTSD and Back will be released this spring by Friesen Press and will eventually be available in French. More information about the release and background on this story is available on www.awarriorrising.com.

A portion of all proceeds from the book will go to the Veteran’s Transition Program.

He is also writing a book about the combat medic in Afghanistan.

-Shelley Lipke, Staff Writer

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