The Honorable Allen Clark, founder of the Combat Faith organization and a Vietnam veteran, held a faith-based post-traumatic stress disorder, or PTSD, workshop at the Fort Huachuca Main Post Chapel on Tuesday, where he explained his roller coaster experience with PTSD and how he has learned to cope and assist others who struggle with it.
Clark began the workshop by establishing his credibility, explaining his story and life experiences with PTSD. With 22 years of active-duty service and service to veterans, he is well versed in the effects of PTSD and how to handle the issues that go along with it.
In June 1967, Clark lost both of his legs during the Vietnam War, resulting in a total of 20 surgeries and a 15-month stay in the Brooke General Hospital amputee ward at Fort Sam Houston, Texas. Eight months later, his struggles with PTSD surfaced. After four days of no sleep, he was admitted to a closed psychiatric ward and ended up staying for 14 weeks. He spent the next six years on antidepressants and seeing a psychiatrist.
With strong emotion, Clark claimed that after the years of counseling, psychotherapy, group therapy sessions and medicinal treatment, his healing was found not by those sources but by the grace and healing power of God and the love and care of Jesus. He has been anti-depressant and drug-free since 1973.
“There are a lot of people and a lot of organizations that, I think, do a very good job of boosting you up when you have issues and so forth with post traumatic stress and helping you with coping mechanisms,” Clark said. “I go beyond that. The fact is, this is going to be a spiritual approach, and this is what worked for me.”
Using his personal experiences and his interaction with others who fight similar battles, Clark founded the lay ministry, Combat Faith, based out of Dallas. According to the organization’s website, “This lay ministry is dedicated to educate, train, arm and equip individuals to utilize principles from the teachings of Jesus Christ to be healed from negative emotions and thoughts caused by sin, wrong choices, or by trauma or injury to the body, soul or spirit.”
Though he has had extensive experiences and contact with hundreds of veterans, Clark does not claim to have any documented training or formal education. Clark does not formally counsel people, but he speaks with them, telling his story and letting them tell theirs.
“I probably counsel two vets a week, either on the phone or by email, or having a cup of coffee with them in the North Texas area. I have talked to them all. I have heard stories back to World War I all the way through Operation Iraqi Freedom,” he said.
Using his “Boot Camp for Healing and Addressing Life’s Stressors” approach, Clark walks them through their pain, peeling it apart and working through each issue individually. This five-step program audits three different arenas of life difficulties: unhealed hurts, unmet needs and unresolved issues. Once these are established, Clark helps the troubled veteran determine what it would take to heal the hurt, meet the needs and resolve the issues. Together, he and the veteran pray that these plans are fulfilled.
Clark and his organization offer many resources for PTSD-related issues. Information regarding PTSD, such as symptoms, spiritual treatment, recommended readings and healing prayers can be found on the Combat Faith website, www.combatfaith.com. Clark and his wife, Linda, a biblical storyteller and dramatist, speak at special events, military functions and for group audiences. They can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or through the website.
Recollecting on his journey, Clark concluded with, “I believe that Jesus allowed me to be saved from my battlefield wounds to return and be able to live my life again. I now know He was there and with me through all my recovery and rehabilitation, which continues today as I seek to follow Him in all my ways.”
The Department of Veterans Affairs offers confidential support as well. For more information, visit www.mentalhealth.va.gov or call the Veterans Crisis Hotline, 1.800.273.8255.