United States (MNN) — Sometimes our decisions leave us guilt-ridden, even if we did nothing wrong. For veterans, this is all too common. When soldiers leave active duty, they are often followed by manifestations of PTSD including depression and guilt. Warriors Set Free, a division of Set Free Ministries wants to get veterans connected to the help they need.
Kevin Kruk was serving in Afghanistan when a seemingly insignificant decision changed his life forever. He and his roommate decided to eat lunch in their room rather than heading to the food hall.
“There was an incoming mortar shell that hit the dining facility, and where it hit was where we would have been sitting. And, as a result, an army specialist died instantly. He was sitting exactly where we would have been if we would have gone to chow,” Kruk says.
As Kruk learned more about the soldier who died, the guilt grew. The man was younger than him and had a family.
Soon, Kruk began having nightmares and as a result was losing sleep. By the time he returned to the United States later that year, he had sunk deep into depression. A few months after returning, he tried to commit suicide.
“It’s not God’s plan for my life,” Kruk says, referring to suicide. “I needed to do something, I needed to get some help because I couldn’t deal with it on my own.”
He had already tried several avenues to get help, including traditional counseling and self-help books. Nothing helped, so he decided to try one more thing. He contacted Steve Prince of Set Free Ministries.
Prince is a veteran himself and understands the common thinking patterns that accompany these nightmares. He explains that many veterans who’ve witnessed a traumatic event constantly replay it in their heads.
“They go out of their way to assume responsibility for something that went wrong, even though it’s not their fault. And so we help them talk through that; and if they made a mistake, there’s forgiveness for that. If someone else made a mistake, they need to give forgiveness for that. But it’s processing the event instead of just holding on to the secret by yourself,” says Prince.
He met with Kruk and let him talk about the nightmares that had taken over his life. They prayed for the nightmares to stop and for God to protect Kruk while he slept.
Kruk says that night, the nightmares stopped. A month later, they had a counseling session where he learned valuable tools involving Scripture and prayer. And now, Kruk will be counseling other veterans as part of Warriors Set Free.
Kruks’s story before Warriors Set Free is not an unusual one. That’s why Steve Prince of Warriors Set Free is so passionate about what he does.
“When Kevin connected with Set Free, I had been praying and doing everything I [could] to connect with more and more veterans,” Prince says, explaining the frustration of hearing about all the people who could benefit from Warriors Set Free but who won’t ask for help.
“Asking for help takes strength,” Prince explains. Some veterans don’t want to burden their families with their problems, for instance.
“We think we’re protecting our family by not sharing the dark stuff with them. Well, we can share it with other veterans,” Prince says.
This is significant because unlike traditional counseling, Warriors Set Free offers veterans a safe place to talk with someone who understands their story personally. And more than that, they learn how to give their burdens to God.
“In order to share deep, dark things with other people you have to trust them, and so we have a high level of confidentiality and trust,” Prince says.
Through Warriors Set Free, Kruk was able to accept the fact that what happened in the dining hall was not his fault and that he could have done nothing about it. He says he might never know why it happened that way, but one reason is so that he can now help other veterans.
Prince says, “It’s just multiplication and helping veterans help veterans. It’s not me, it’s not the process, but it’s Scripture put to work as tools that we know how to use and then God works in our hearts and fixes problems.”
Even if they’re not a Christian, Warriors Set Free is a good option for veterans to learn how to fight depression and other fallout from serving in the military.
While it is run out of West Michigan, there is a need for resources like Warriors Set Free everywhere.
Prince offers some options. You can start with Neil Anderson’s Bondage Breaker, which is the basis for Set Free Ministries.
You can also e-mail Prince at [email protected] to discuss what long-distance options exist.
Learn more about Set Free Ministries and how you could get involved here.