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Psychologist Shauna Springer on the Real Struggles Veterans Face - The ROI Online Podcast Ep. 41

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What’s the real struggle warriors face when they leave the trenches? Here’s a hint: It’s something you’re facing right now. On this episode of the ROI Online Podcast, Dr. Shauna Springer a psychologist who works with service members explains how the loss of relationships and connection can be more damaging than the horrors of war.

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Dr. Shauna Springer went to Harvard University for her undergrad and got a degree in psychology. After college, she entered her first position, which involved working with veterans, warriors, and service members. One of the patients asked her a question that shattered her confidence in her authority: “What makes you think you could help me through my trauma when I've been to war and seeing things you can't even imagine?” 

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That statement was a significant turning point. She spent 10 years researching everything from the best way to set up her office and how to start a conversation to how to build trust and keep trust with veterans. Shauna’s research ran counter to a lot of the ways she was trained. Instead of coming in as the expert, she had to put her authority aside and just listen deeply to their stories. 

An interesting point Shauna quickly learned is that veterans aren’t struggling with the “horrors of war.” They're feeling betrayed. They know the sacrifices they've made after years of service, but other people don’t see it. They feel like they need allies. They need people to stand with them. 

After 10 years of walking with warriors into the trenches, Shauna wrote Beyond the Military to share the real struggle these veterans face every day.  She wrote her book to help veterans develop insights as to the weight they care—as well as to help VA treatment providers and the loved ones of military service members and veterans understand them better.

When COVID happened, suddenly, the invisible threat and layers of moral anguish she saw in warriors every day began to surface in everyday people. All of us today face conflicting information, bad news, loss of jobs, economic turmoil, decreased quality of life, and many other struggles warriors face when they get back home. We also have the loss of relationships and connection, something even more dangerous. We’ve lost the basic ways of communications we took for granted.

Shauna’s book now speaks to everyday heroes as well as warriors fighting on the front lines. She has also written a new book, Warrior: How to Support Those Who Protect Us, to help others help warriors find healing in life off the battlefield.


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You can learn more about Doc Springer here:
https://www.docshaunaspringer.com/


Alternative resource for those seeking help:
redefineyourmission.com

Read Shauna’s books here:
Beyond the Military: A Leader's Handbook for Warrior Reintegration
Warrior: How to Support Those Who Protect Us


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Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Many people would be surprised to hear the stories that I hear about how Actually, there isn't an impact first for many people with what they have to do in war, that the training that they receive, prepares them well for that. Or that they even enjoy it. You know, I've had for years that they enjoy what they do. They're, they're there to protect us and to take people out, is their job. And they enjoy doing that well, and they're not sociopaths. I think, shifting the understanding to if somebody was coming after your kids or somebody you loved, might it not feel like a relief or positive to take them out to nullify that threat? And so there's there's that, which is that, you know, maybe for some people, it's not a trauma. But to answer your question, so much more often. The trauma was after transition, and it was in the emotional amputation of losing their tribe.

Steve Brown: 

Hi, everybody. Welcome to the ROI online podcasts where we believe you, the courageous entrepreneurs of our day, are the invisible heroes of our economy. You not only improve our world with your ideas, your grit and your passion, but you make our world better. I'm Steve Brown. And this is a place where we have great conversations with winners just like you while we laugh and learn together. Dr. shot us ringer. Welcome to the ROI online podcast.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Thanks, Steve. It's good to be here.

Steve Brown: 

So you and I met, we were on a little class via that we use the same company to help us tighten up the details on our books, companies called scribe, but you and I both share the experience being an author. And you actually have two books I'm aware of, if not more, but your first book is called Beyond the military. And it is a I don't want to mess this up. But a leaders handbook for warrior reintegration. And then your your latest book is warrior, how to support those who protect us. And I'm really interested about talking about that. Tell us a little more about your background, your education. You've been on, you've been around and you've done some you got some game, done some work.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Thank you. I mean, I definitely had an unusual background, I think in unusual upbringing. And the the short story on that is that it was almost quasi military. My father raised us like a long form of maybe boot camp, in some ways, very high standards, very exacting. Lots of kind of extreme parenting, I would say in retrospect, not that that's always bad. You know, it's something that I feel conflicted about. Because, you know, sometimes I still remember back and parts of it were really, really hard. But it's made some other things seem a lot easier now. And I'm very comfortable with this comfort. So then I went into Harvard University for my undergrad and had kind of a traditional education went on and got my degree in psychology. But before I went into psychology, I had kind of a full life and lots of experiences traveling and living in different groups, mostly in South America, and doing a lot of service work that really pushed the edges of my experiences. So be happy to share any of that. But it all kind of plays into what I do now. I think.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, what I'm fascinated about I have to confess is, you know, the folks that support us or protect us. I didn't, I didn't serve in the military. Okay, and I'm, my dad was in the marine reserves. My brother was my brother was a fireman, but I didn't. And so sometimes, I'm, I guess, I want to make sure that I'm respectful and and cognizant of their commitment and service. But I have to confess, I don't always know how to relate or am I showing proper respect or being disrespectful? And where in where is it that I could do better in relating with them, or trying to understand them? And that's what I find fascinating about the topic of your book.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Thank you. Yeah, well, I didn't serve either. So that's both of us. And when I entered the My first position really working with veterans and warriors and service members. My first week on the job, I always remember that first day, I got a list of 100 patients, and was told by my new boss, call them find out what they want. And my feeling at that time was was not your feeling your should have been what you just said, like, I don't know what I don't know. But my feeling at the time coming out of graduate school, you know, going through the pain of you know, being in graduate school for so long and getting on that training was fresh troops have arrived, my patients are going to be excited to get to work. And actually, there's quite a lot of anger. Because I was replacing a provider that they really trusted who was a doctor to many of them. So they didn't even come in neutral. And one of them cut me down and said, Are you like 25? Like, what makes you think you could help me through my trauma when I've been to war and seeing things you can't even imagine? Right? And that was a real identity crisis for me, you know, everything I thought I was bringing to the table. He was questioning it. And so it was painful. And I felt shamed. And at the same time, it was that turning point that I needed to push off from, to say, you know, what, what, if he's right, what if I can't offer true understanding? And And what if I can't get in in the trenches with my patients, and figure out how to support them. And so that's why I spent 10 years on that process of looking at everything about how I set my office up to how I approach them to how I build the trust, how I hold the trust, who they know me to be. And so it really ran counter to a lot of the ways I was trained to kind of come in as the expert, I had to put all of that aside, Steve, and say, maybe I don't know what I think I know, maybe I need to just listen deeply to the story you're trying to tell me, which is not the first story that they will share with somebody like me. So it was a total evolution of 10 years, developing my identity and my approach. And if I can do it, as somebody who's never served in the military and be trusted by them and adopted into their circles, anybody can with the same approach and insights.

Steve Brown: 

Think about the folks that step up. You sign up for the military, and I think this points not really stressed. But when you sign up, you're committing to serve subordinate to what you would prefer. You're going I'm I want to be accountable to some extent here. And I understand that you're going to put me in situations where I'm maybe I wouldn't have chose to be. Yeah, but I signed in, I signed up to be counted on and even as a police officer or, or folks even now and the news, you know, this defunding the police? And I think about conflicting messages that goes against what, what the heck they they stepped up and took an oath to do?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Yeah, it is. I don't know if this is too strong a word, but it's a moral anguish, and maybe even a form of something like moral injury, to have a good man or woman, a first responder or military veteran who has made that commitment to service that's part of their identity, to have us question that reminds me of how we treated Vietnam veterans when they came back from the war.

Steve Brown: 

So what does someone like? I know I'm not the only one. But how do you how do you communicate that? That you get it when you go? Right? How do you go? I don't know. I want to buy your copy is not enough. Or like you said, saying thank you for your services. Like it's just a cliched statement that that basically says I don't know what to say. Right. I'm trying to I'm trying to do something, but it feels it totally communicates. I don't know. I don't know what you've been through it. I don't know what you need.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Yeah, so they have a very finely tuned bullshit detector right now. And so this whole advice we get in society of fake it till you make it. It's not a good way to go. Because that's never going to fly with people that have developed this radar. For Truth. And so that's your only approach is you have to take off your armor and your protection, and walk in vulnerability with people that serve and acknowledge what you don't know. And so you allow them to share with you. Little by little, they will trust you and open up when they see that you actually give a shit. Sorry, I

Steve Brown: 

don't know if I'm allowed to swear on your No, that's my mom listens that she's she's heard that before.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Okay, sorry, I've fallen into speaking marine. Did they the people that really care that people that they say give a care, they can tell. And so they don't care if you don't know. Or if you don't understand, they care if you are willing to understand and willing to sit and listen for longer than feels comfortable. And if you will make sacrifices of your own. And not just do the lip service thing of saying thank you for your service. And then you feel good about having done something that doesn't hit the market at all, for so many of them. Yeah.

Steve Brown: 

So what are they? What are these guys, these guys? And I say that when men and women, but it's what are they? What are they really feeling right now when, when all this D funding conversations going on, or all the training that they received the name got uniform, and then they show up. And it's like, Who would have thought Who would have thought that?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

This feeling betrayed. They're feeling betrayed by people. After years of service. They know the sacrifices they've made, that people don't see. We don't see that story. They see it within their tribe. But they're feeling betrayed. And they're feeling like they need allies. They need people to stand with them. And say, you know, we shouldn't judge everybody, just because of the actions of a few people that should be punished, that should be taken out of roles of power, we have to have precision targeting of those kinds of evils, and not just apply the whole, you know, apply our scorn to a whole group of people that we don't understand that we don't know very well. Want to go back to something you said, because it really makes me think, though, you're talking about, you know, not really knowing what to say, as a civilian. And I think there's something really there for us not to miss, which is, I think that civilians really want to be appreciative and grateful in ways that that hit the target. I had a conversation with somebody a couple days ago. And she had just really opened up about how she feels this guilt about not doing enough and wants to know, how can I really support people that serve me? I'm persuaded that they make sacrifices other than giving money or cutting a check, what can I do? And I said, Well, what have you tried in the past? And she said, You know, every time I can get off of work, to do this, I go over. And I accept the flag for a warrior who has died, who doesn't have family, so that if years later, somebody from their family finds them, and goes to that cemetery and says, Did anybody except the flag, that she will be on record as somebody who has that flag, honored that warrior stood grave side, and did that and I said, you're doing it like that kind of act of a private support that costs you something, when you take off work, and instead of going on vacation, you go to the cemetery and you stand with people when nobody's watching. I get emotional about this. That is you saying something more than thank you for your service. And so I think people want to understand warriors, they want to know how to support them loved ones want to understand their their hidden pain. And that's why I wrote my book warrior, how to support those who protect us to tell people what's behind the first story you hear, and how you can support them in really practical ways. That will make thank you for your service really meaningful to them.

Steve Brown: 

So let's talk about your book. Tell us some. I don't know. I haven't read it. So I'm like, it's not gonna be this great interview about the book. But tell us a little bit about the book and why Why we should read it if we really care about this and want to want to be some part of the solution?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Yeah. Well, originally I wrote this book out of 10 years of walking with warriors in the trenches. And really this realization that in terms of those who support them and healing roles, there are two kinds of people. There are doctors and there are Doc's, I was a doctor, when I started working with them, I thought I knew what I knew, I had lots of years of training and expertise. And as I've evolved my approach to practice and become doc Springer, I've put aside what I thought I knew, and really taken in this truth that the trust that I grow out ranks rank every day of the week, just totally outranks rank. And so as I have developed that trust, what I've learned is that there's this great myth about trauma and warriors in our society, which is warriors are traumatized by the horrors of war, what they see and do and war. Yet, if you look at the researchers a study done in 2015, over 4 million servicemembers, and amazingly, there's no correlation, or very low, low correlation between combat deployment and suicide. So that connection of warriors are dying, by their own hand, because of the horrors of war just doesn't hold up in the research. Yet, that's where we have all of this emphasis and money that's being spent on treatments that target the horrors of war. So the book is about the trauma behind the trauma, what you think is the trauma isn't really the trauma wasn't really the hidden pain of so many of my patients. And the first story that I heard was a test of trust, not what I needed to understand. So as I got to know them, and I built that trust, they opened up the vault in terms of what's really going on with them. What what really survivor guilt and grief and moral injury and relationship, rage, all of these things, what those things are really about. So this was originally a book to really target people in the VA treatment providers, loved ones of military service members and veterans to understand them wives, spouses, partners, and the veterans themselves to develop these insights. And then COVID happened. And suddenly, all this 10 years of work I've been doing with trauma around invisible threat, hyper vigilance, layers of moral anguish, we just keep seeing this play out for everybody across the society in ways that I never could have imagined. So it's become this book about things that are now universal struggles, as we face off against COVID across society, that I never would have imagined when I wrote the book. Wow.

Steve Brown: 

So this, you've done a lot of therapy with couples or relationships as well. Mm hmm. And so I'm, you know, I'm thinking of the application. These ideas. You know, relationships are really stressed right now, just from this additional? Oh, this umbrella of fear that you have to be scared of all this. There's all these conflicting messages, and you almost removed this. Where Where can I sit in confidence and peace and not feel threatened? And really creeped in on that as

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

he has? You're absolutely right. You know, the, the stuff I've done lately, since the book came out has really focused on this chronic threat response state that all of us are into varying degrees. So even if somebody doesn't meet criteria for post traumatic stress disorder, given what's happened, and the conflicting information, we're getting the bad news we're getting in the news cycle, the the loss of jobs, the economic hit, the change in quality of life, the son loss of relationship and connection is really impactful in ways that people are not fully appreciating. Those incidental connections you make when you walk around in the world and you see everybody's full face. You can tell a smile versus somebody you know, crinkling their eyes at you under a mask and you can't tell if they're about to smack you across the face or if that's a smile. So basic things about how we communicate with each other have been lost. And there's a lot of people that are suffering, a lot of trauma and relationships, as you said, are, are deeply strained. So I'm happy to talk about that. Did you have any specific areas that you want to talk about?

Steve Brown: 

Well, I wanted to, I wanted to explore more that the system societal impression is that when people go to war, that they're they commit suicide because they witnessed this traumatic event. That's kind of in relation to your first story is a test of trust. Trust isn't what what is the real problem that is going on?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Yeah. So that is the kind of general sense that many people have that it's, you know, what they saw in Dayton war, the horrors of war. And they would be many people would be surprised to hear the stories that I hear about how Actually, there isn't an impact for for many people with what they have to do in war, that the training that they receive, prepares them well for that, or that they even enjoy it, you know, I've had warriors that they enjoy what they do there, they're there to protect us and to take people out, is their job. And they enjoy doing that well, and they're not sociopath. I think shifting the understanding to if somebody was coming after your kids or somebody you loved might not feel like a relief or positive to take them out to nullify that threat. And so there's there's that, which is that, you know, maybe for some people, it's not a trauma. But to answer your question, so much more often, the trauma was after transition. And it was in the emotional amputation of losing their tribe. losing those people that give their lives structured meaning that was often the trauma.

Steve Brown: 

So you, you go through an experience a common no economic cop, and you go to an experience with that group of people. You bonded, you overcame you, you had events that you struggled through together. And then when you return in, you're kind of dumped back into kind of a more superficial tribe that wouldn't have any way to relate to those those things. Is that correct?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Yeah, here's something interesting related to the point you just made. So some of the veterans that I talked to, around how COVID is impacting them, actually are doing better than they've ever done. And what they say to me, which is super interesting, related to your point, is, I don't feel unusual anymore. I feel like now I live in a society where people understand some of the things I've been feeling for many years, I don't feel like a ghost in society that nobody sees, or understands who is alienated and can relate to the values and the culture of the people that are all around me in my life. So yeah, those relationships, I mean, it's really hard to describe it in words. But there's something deep and sacred about a relationship where you'd be willing to lay down your life at a moment's notice for the person next to you. And that's why they fight it's not, you know, they might go into the military because of some patriotic intent. But when they become part of that tribe, then they fight for each other. And they become unified in their purpose in a way that feels like an emotional amputation. When you take somebody, and you displace them from that circle.

Steve Brown: 

Want to pause here just for a moment and talk to you about a program that we have just released called ROI, quickstart Academy for authors. Every day, I talk to business owners just like you who struggle with quickly getting their fundamentals in place. We want to create a great foundation and we want to grow our business, but the things that are in our way, our lack of knowledge about the specifics, we should put in place, what kind of technology what kind of messaging and what kind of campaigns and that problem exists for authors as well. And we just chill so good with authors because, well, I'm an author, and I understand everything that you struggle with you have a great idea you have a great But what do you want to do, you want to get your book in front of more people, you want to make it easy for them to find you learn how they can schedule a time to talk with you hire you for a conference, or maybe sign up for the services that your book promotes. So what is the Quickstart Academy for authors? Imagine working with a small group of like minded authors, and the experts from the ROI quickstart. Team, it's a great way to get your messaging clear to be confident with the technology in your marketing automation, and how to run a strategic campaign to get you more of what you want from the investment of your book. To learn more about the Quickstart Academy for authors, you can visit ROI online.com, or click in the link in the show notes below. And now, back to this episode. Some seems like there would also be this social, social compact or this you took an oath to adhere to certain behaviors and requirements and expectations on you beyond the normal or typical society, right? And you submit yourself to superiors who are making those decisions. Yeah, but maybe not all of those superiors, are motivated. Or maybe it comes in questions sometime that the motivation of their decisions wasn't something conflicting about you, you agreed to, to go ahead and charge for and so to speak. But yeah, does that feel like betrayal? Is that another thing that they really deal with?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Yeah, it is, as you said, when you sign the dotted line, you agree to follow orders, whether you agree with them or not. So now, if you have a chain of command that you respect, that you feel they get it, and they're putting you in risky situations, because you know that there's a good reason for that. It's going to help win the war, there's some that's one thing. But if you're put in harm's way, or your brothers and sisters in arms are put in harm's way, or you're instructed to tell them to go into a harmful situation, you don't agree or you don't know why, or you feel like it's worthless sacrifice. That's a type of moral injury. You didn't do anything to create that moral injury. It's not like you did something wrong, that violated your moral code. But you had to act out through a system of orders something that everything in your body at a cellular level was saying, don't do it. So that's one of the sacrifices that they have to make. Now, imagine the mind Bender, if you went through all of that, right, and you lost people that you love, like family, following orders you didn't agree with? And then you came back into a society that was ignorant about those sacrifices or blamed you for being a service member or said, well, you're just bloodthirsty you just wanted to, you know, participate in these events. What kind of a mind bender that would be what kind of moral anguish and disconnection you would feel from people to experience that.

Steve Brown: 

But yet that's common. So that that would be something that a child would experience if they were abused by their parents that that same moral mind bending process, right?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Yeah. Or if someone said, No, it never happened, right? You went through some abusive experience or some trauma? And then someone said, I don't believe you.

Steve Brown: 

So how do you so most people are totally not qualified to be any help or more inclined, even if they were having good intent. to aggravate that conversation or or wanting to help or or whatever. What do you how do you start to the steps towards healing or supporting someone that wants to heal from that trauma?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

I don't know if I if I think that people aren't qualified.

Steve Brown: 

Well, I would. I would approach it like, Alright, so I would, I would try but I'm also insecure. I don't want to aggravate thing but I do want to I do care. But how do you how do you approach such a tough, tough thing?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

I think it's not so much what you say to people who are suffering. It's how safe you are to them and how willing you are to listen, without any judgement, shock, fear or reaction from yourself. that detracts from their ability to heal.

Steve Brown: 

What a risk for that trauma victim? Yes, that's right to have the discernment on who they could share stuff with and who they are. Yes,

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

that's right on the money. And, you know, it just, it kills me to hear, which I do hear fairly often that they are, I've had experiences in different systems of care with providers like me, that are supposed to be safe, where the provider will say, I've never heard anything like that before, or will react with horror or shock or start crying. You know, that that first test of trust, like you were saying, it's really, can I trust you to walk with me through this valley in my life? Are you going to overreact or bring your own fear into the equation? Are you strong and solid enough to hear what I have to say, openly without judgment? And that's what heals people. And I think some professional healers do it very well. Some peers do really well. And it's more a quality of your personal ability to hold the kind of courage of people where, you know, it's not about you. And you're just offering them the place and the opportunity to walk through that valley with somebody who is not going to react in an unhelpful way.

Steve Brown: 

So the first story is a test of trust. Oftentimes, you hear these comments, oh, my grandfather would never talk about his experience in the war. Yeah. So that's, is that common perception that they don't discuss it? Or loads? Is that true?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Well, that generation, you know, is a bit of a different generation. That culture of stoicism was just part of that generation as a whole. I think there is an openness among today's warriors, to talk about their experience, and people see it as therapeutic to talk about their stories. The question is, though, is it safe to talk about it? And what is your response going to be? So I think we've shifted that bubble a little bit towards, I'd be willing to share, if I were confident that the person that I'm talking to, would handle it in the right way would handle it responsibly, and, you know, walk with me in that way, that wouldn't make me feel smaller, or weaker, or minimized or pitied. They don't want our pity. Compassion and pity are very, very different things. And so they can pick up on where we're coming from, I think, and if our heart is in the right place, there's so much good we can do you know, there's so much good can't leave it up to just a small number of professional healers. We've got to be a society that can walk with each other in this vulnerable way, share this kind of pain with each other, and be radically safe with each other. It's not just about warriors, it's about everything we're going through right now with COVID. We need to be doing this for each other. When we connect, we survive. That's the bottom line for me. And we really need to learn how to do that well.

Steve Brown: 

So let's not assume that when you say it's the way that you use sit with them after their first story, coaches on what's some of the healthy protocol or a way to approach it.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

So to go back to something you said before, I think is very nice. Even before we kind of started recording, you said you had a conversation with someone and you asked him, Well, how would you like to be supported us expressing vulnerability saying, I don't really know how to support but i'm open, open to hearing. So that's a nice way to start. We don't always want people to have to educate us. So another way to go could be just to say, you know, I wasn't there. And I didn't live through those things. But I am here for you. And I'm willing to hear anything you want to share with me at any time without judgment. I'd love to learn about what it was like for you, but I won't push but I'm here for you. You know if there's anything you want to share, I'm happy to hear it. And you just wait and just see what they want to pursue you know, so you give them choice but you show that you're you're open to anything that they might want to share.

Steve Brown: 

So that was your journey from doctor to Doc, that when that epiphany happened for you, is that correct?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

I was a number of small epiphanies, you know, really, Steve, it was things like realizing that even the tiny things like, I mean, right now you see behind me the diploma on the wall, right? This is my home office, because I'm COVID, you know, everybody's home, right? When I was at, at the VA, a lot of people put their degrees on the wall. And I never did, I didn't after a while, because I just didn't want to lead with that degree. I thought, if I, if I create a space, where I'm leading with, I'm very educated, or I have these credentials, then that creates a system of rank, that is not helpful. I don't think in terms of rank anymore, I don't see myself as out ranking the people I support. I just see myself as being a support to them, and a healer and someone who wants to walk with them. So what you know, I came to was wanting to put pictures of local hiking trails on the wall, because those were common spaces that we both enjoyed, that might unite us, you know, oh, they recognize that place there had been there before. That's a different conversation than one that starts with your professional credentials or leads with that. So it's everything like what you put on the walls to how you set up your office to where you sit in the office. It's those tiny things, and then how you conduct conversations and interviews and what kinds of questions you ask and when, based on how much trust you have.

Steve Brown: 

So how different is childhood trauma to the trauma that are our the folks that protect us go through.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

So here's another thing, this is another story behind the story. Many of the patients I supported over the years, had deep childhood trauma before the military. And that was at the root of their hidden pain, not the military service. In the foreword of my book written by Sergeant Eddie right, wonderful, brilliant guy. He's a warrior's warrior first recon Marine, lost his arms in war. I'm sitting talking to him, he's getting this procedure that he writes about. And we have this conversation about what his real trauma is, and it goes something like this. I say to him, I bet people think that losing your arms is your trauma, I can tell that it's not your trauma. And he says, Yes, actually, that is what happens. And it's not my real trauma, but nobody really gets that even people like you. And because when he's talking about the day when he lost his arms, there's a pride there, you know, and I said, Tell me more about that, like how it's not really your trauma. And he says, Well, I feel like I lost my arms like a true warrior. And that by becoming a first recon Marine, I was able to achieve my goal, like suck the Olympics team for Marines, you know, the trauma, as he writes about in the foreword of warrior happened well before the military in childhood. That's where the trauma came from. That was the origin of the trauma. So Edie, like so many people that I've worked with, talked about these instances of in childhood, you know, I'm not going to share what the nature of his childhood trauma was. But just a broad note, many people had experiences of feeling helpless and powerless in childhood and experienced a range of abusive assaults and trauma exposures well before they went into the military. And I think that makes sense, because a lot of people go into the military, because they're hoping for a culture and a system where there are rules, that there's right and wrong, and where there's a standard and where people are held to that standard. And so they're looking for our kind of protection and to become the warrior that they wish could have come in and protected them. So they become people that are able to defend others in a way that nobody defended them. That was a very common theme. And then they carry that warrior ethos and that protective instinct is deep in them stemming all the way back to childhood traumas. So it's often Really just one long line for so many people that I've served. Wow.

Steve Brown: 

So what are some questions that I should be asking that I'm that would help you talk about what you would love to talk about

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

your asking good questions. Thank you for for asking that one. Today I'm doing is I can't otterpop Yeah. Oh my goodness. So I asked my kids right to ask me permission before they eat anything sweet. Sometimes that backfires, like when I'm in the middle of the podcast. Can I have a lollipop? It's like really urgent. Oh, there's no balance these days. Okay. refocusing. So, it's all of us, though. You know, we're all in the same boat right now. So people, you know, they get it, they get their kids, you know, into their broadcasts and whatever they're doing. I don't know, if you've had, you know, any intrusions that you you know, have.

Steve Brown: 

I've had chickens crowing on podcast, I've been chats. Yep. I've got a dog that walks through the background every once in a while. All sorts of stuff.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Everybody loves the dog, though. That's always gonna, you know, boost your ratings.

Steve Brown: 

She's not she listens to all these conversations. And she's an she's a border collie. So she's like the smartest dog in marketing.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Yeah, we live next door to one of those. Yeah, they're very, very smart. Okay, so you were asking me what kinds of questions you could

Steve Brown: 

Yeah. What's, uh, so what question would you love to be asked right now? I mean, this is some This is some really thought provoking topics that's really relevant right now. Right?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Yeah, one of the things that we could talk about is about how COVID really mimics the type of trauma that our combat warfighters have faced for many years.

Steve Brown: 

And almost sounds I would be I? Yeah, let's talk about that. Because that's the last thing I would want to compare to that, right. But, but it's there.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

All right, let me make the case. So. So half of the people that I talked to have said they're thriving, because now they feel more like everybody else, who are now feeling the same traumas they felt for many years. The other half, are really struggling, because COVID as a trauma is mirroring other traumas that they've experienced, that they felt helpless to overcome. So here are just off the top of my head, some of the similarities. And I've talked about some of this stuff in like pieces for CNN. So there's maybe a little bit more of a thoughtful analysis somewhere else. But if you think about it, we're facing this invisible enemy, can't see this virus. And it could blow up at any time, we won't see it, like an IED could blow up and take out somebody we love ourselves. There is the need to be hyper vigilant 24 seven, with life or death stakes. We are losing people that we love family, or people like family to us, suddenly, unexpectedly, and we're cut off from them because of COVID. So we're not able to be with them. So just like combat warriors are taken out of the combat theater, just evacuated, when they're when they're wounded. And nobody knows if they made it, we get pulled apart from our loved ones. If they develop covid, they get put on a sort of restricted Ward, and we may never see them again. So we're dealing with a level of trauma and grief that we've never dealt with. And the transitional trauma of coming out of the military is mirrored for so many of us in the loss of our jobs, the loss of our roles, well, the loss of our access to our whole social network, to seeing people every day that were part of our daily rhythm, suddenly cut off from all of that. So our attachments that were so important to us in defining our lives and structuring it are suddenly cut off. And so on so many levels. It's actually such a compelling crossover between the trauma that I've been focused on for warfighters and what we're all experiencing now as a society. And one of the things that I've learned is that to say that suicide is an act of weakness really misunderstand something critical, which is, we know that veterans have a higher suicide rate than civilians. And they are some of the strongest and bravest nurse society. So if we understand that That then the first statement is illogical. And then what we should be saying is, if suicide can be a threat to some of the strongest and bravest to our society, what does that mean about mental warfare? And how can I, how can I protect myself from the impact of this kind of trauma, this mental warfare, and people can't get into therapists right now. So there's some systems, you know, that are in telehealth and there are some things building and one of the things I've been building with a couple of colleagues is an online bundle of strategies and solutions, called redefine your mission.com, where we're going to give our two books are going to be part of that sort of online course. So people will buy the two books, it's not a course I mean, it's just, it's going to be a way for them to integrate insights that might help them or help somebody that they love to understand mental warfare. So each chapter pairs with a little video, there's key points and key questions to drive conversations that you wouldn't have otherwise, typically, based on the two books that are part of that bundle. And for me, that's a way of scaling the kinds of insights that I hope more people will come to understand about mental warfare, not just about diagnoses, and the mental health, you know, traditional treatment model. But what does it mean to really understand this kind of hopelessness that could overtake us and how we can get traction.

Steve Brown: 

So working with all these, these folks that have been in service and experience this trauma, they off, cope with it the best they can in some way, until you run into them. What are some common themes of of those who were doing a pretty good job, either by accident, or maybe they had done some self discovery, what were some of the things that they were doing, that was helping them that they maybe weren't aware of.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

So one of the most important things that they are doing well, if they're coping well, is finding ways to stay connected to their tribe. So if you do nothing, just like with COVID, right now, then you'll lose all those relationships, you won't talk to people that you used to talk to, or see in everyday life. For months, you know, it'll be just your coworkers or just the people that, you know, you have to interact with. So the, the men and women who reach out to their tribe and have a practice of staying connected in an intentional way, are doing so much better. And so one of the things based on that, that I've been doing with them is supporting, it's mostly run by them, I just kind of come alongside and support and develop some programming and, and things for these events, but reunions, reunions of warriors that come together once a year. And ours happens, you know, every year for this one group, it just happened a couple weeks ago, I wasn't able to go for the first time in many years. It was it was terrible. I so sad that we can but it doesn't require constant contact. It just requires that that thread is kept intact, and that there's regular contact with people that they can be totally comfortable with, who totally get it that they can talk about anything they want. And even you know, things that that are pretty funny, like they use a lot of humor. Like last night, I got a call from a friend of mine. In some ways, he's like a marine in some ways. And it reminded me of how they talked to me. He called me up and picked up the phone and said, Hey, what's up? He's like, I was just calling to check in on your white fragility. What? I thought I misheard him, and he said it again. And I just started like breaking up like laughing because, you know, he's a multi ethnic friend of mine, including African American, who was calling me and in this like, Reverend way. Like, it was like such a release of like, oh, my goodness, there's so much fear around what are we going to say what are not going to say? And here I have this friendship, where like, it's beyond all of that stuff. And we can just talk about what really matters. So a two minute phone call like totally like, ended My day on such a high note, I'm still like laughing about it inside of my mind, you know, this call. So they do that for each other. And just a quick text, you know, can actually be life saving for some of them. So it's keeping that connection alive. After the military.

Steve Brown: 

That's really no, you think of the joy you get in when you have this few people that you hang out, and I call it fart and giggle. Yeah, you know, you're able to be a little irreverent, but it's safe. And it's just, yeah, it's in love. You know, between and that's so cool. That's, but it's one of the emotions that you see on people's faces when they're in those situations, they get these big giant grits. Yeah. Then this laughing It's so healing and it feels good. That's why that you just, yeah, illustrated that. Well, that I, I didn't know how this conversation was going to go today. Usually mine are or light. And you know, we're talking about these other things. And this is something that's really, really deep, but it everybody is exposed to this, whether they want to admit it or not. Right, this the stress of the COVID thing and, and but this has been really inspiring. I I've gotten so much from the US and I know the audience has as well. I appreciate you. covering this subject, what is what are what are some areas that maybe folks that are listening want to be involved support, connect with you tell us? What are the options?

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Thank you. Well, what I really would love is if anybody's interested in really learning about my work. I my book warrior how to support those who protect us it's packaged 10 years of the sacred mission in one book. So that's that's the main thing I really want to get out there right now. And also redefine your mission comm is that mental health bundle for people who can't or won't go to therapy, but who still want to understand strategies and solutions for mental warfare. So I'm just launching that right now, the next week, actually, but I think the website is up and live. And those would really be the two main things right now that I'm focused on to really get this work out. got other projects and things coming My website is doc Shauna Springer do CSH a una SPRI edgy er.com doc shine, Springer calm. And I've got a ton of podcasts and blog writings. I write a blog for Psychology Today, for example. And so those are all on my website, lots of other free resources so people can find me there as well. Thank you so much for doing this to thank you. I was like really not expecting, you know, a fellow author to reach out and support me in this way. And it's just deeply I'm deeply grateful for it.

Steve Brown: 

Yeah, no, I loved it. This is this is gives me energy to sit and talk one on one like this, even though we had we had one kid pop in it interrupt us asking about a lollipop. We still got time, you know, deep and not just superficial between interruptions. Yeah. Yeah. So this is awesome. We'll put all the details in the show notes as well. There'll be a video of this in a blog post. And maybe we have some more conversations. Shawn.

Shauna "Doc" Springer: 

Thank you, Steve. Let me know you know, if I ever do my own podcast someday, you should come on my show. If I ever get my act together that way

Steve Brown: 

by I've, yeah, I'd love to I'd be entertaining in some way that I would humiliate myself. But it would be. I wouldn't make that. Yes. Thanks so much for being a great guest on and ROI online podcast. Thank you. That's a wrap. Thanks for listening to another fun episode of the ROI online podcast. For more, be sure to check out the show notes of this episode. And feel free to connect with me on LinkedIn where we can chat and I can help direct you to the resources you're searching for. To learn more about how you can grow your business better. Be sure to pick up your copy of my book, The Golden toilet at surprise that golden toilet.com I'm Steve Brown, and we'll see you next week on another fun episode of the ROI online podcast.