I don’t usually buy magazines at the store. But on occasion the cover compels me to purchase it.

Such was the case the other day when I saw the July 1, 2013 edition of Time Magazine.

Photo-illustration of three combat veterans painting a wall blue

The cover story, “How Service Can Save Us”, details a different approach to assisting returning servicemen and women dealing with symptoms of post traumatic stress. The main program is called The Mission Continues. Started by Eric Greitens, a former Navy SEAL (and Rhodes Scholar), the program capitalizes on the desire of servicemen and women to continue serving our country after leaving the service. The sense of purpose and pride is rekindled. The program also puts the former military personnel back into a context with which they had grown familiar: 1) having a mission to accomplish,  2)  a team of like-minded brothers & sisters with whom to carry out the mission, and 3) a disciplined routine in which to work and live. It is an exceptionally simple and still elegant idea that has had immediate effect on the lives of recent vets and even veterans from the Gulf and Vietnam Wars.

I had first heard of The Mission Continues on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart. (Say what you like about Stewart’s politics. But you will find no one in the world more committed to welfare of our returning US Military Personnel.) Mr. Greitens’ message was very simple – Don’t treat us like victims. Certainly, people are suffering with the physical and mental injuries from war. But these are highly disciplined men and women. Give them purpose while giving them access to the mental and physical care they need, and they will pick each other up.

All of this was a great reminder for me, as a healer, to never forget my purpose as a healer. My Mission Statement is “To empower people through spoken word, therapeutic touch, and acupuncture to heal themselves.” Or to quote the proverb, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach him how to fish and he will eat forever.”

I always need to be mindful of how I view the person lying on my treatment table. If I see him/her as a victim, then I am judging the person, placing myself somewhere above him/her. I then feel that I somehow know better than him/her; that his/her way of living is less than mine , ergo I must fix him/her. How arrogant is that? How completely self-centered, narcissistic, and ultimately counter-productive to that person’s self-growth and healing.

The best way for my son to learn anything is to learn it himself. I can provide structure to the learning, maybe a gentle nudge in a direction, or a safety net should he fall. But if I want him to truly get something, it is better that I stay out of his way.

It’s the same with the treatment room. I provide structure, maybe the occasional nudge, and a net. The rest is up to you. Sure, it’s a challenge. And you will benefit from it more quickly and more profoundly from it!