Post-Traumatic Growth – PTG

By David K. Devaney SgtMaj USMC Retired

Throughout modern warfare there has been a stigma attached to weeping; especially for warriors. Tears equal weakness to some people; usually out of pure ignorance. Many warriors will tell you that they know their fellow warriors better than their own siblings; which is usually true. For instance, infantrymen live and work in close quarters under adverse and extremely austere conditions and these warriors who live through misery together become closer by virtue of their shared experiences. They are our brothers and sister too; therefore, they deserve our tears.

Burying the memory – trying not to think about it.

Ave Atque Vale-Hail and Farewell. (Gaius Valerius Catullus 85 BC-54 BC)

Some warriors falsely believe they can just bury a memory; not going to happen my friends. You cannot “NOT” think about something. What are you wearing right now on your waist? Say a belt. Before I mentioned it, you almost surely did not even think about your belt. Now, try not to think about it will become difficult. In fact, this silly belt reference may remain with you for a very long time. I say, “think about it.” For many warriors this may assist them in healing.

Warrior at a gravesite.

So, what do you do if you are one of those who will visit a cemetery or a memorial somewhere, and you see a weeping veteran at a gravesite. I say, nothing. Weeping for our friends is a form of therapy. If fact, it would be best if that vet just weep until the weeping is done; cried out as you might say for a child. Now, if the vet is walking away and seems fine, I would ask him or her whom they were remembering. If they will engage you, get them to tell a story or two about theirs friend or loved one. It is therapeutic for each party. The same goes for vets wear KIA bracelets; ask about their fallen friend.

Our friends are not forgotten until we forget them. How dare we forget?

Finally, we are NOT allowed to weep about battle. Does a firefighter weep about fire? Does a pilot weep about flight? No, we may weep for the fallen BUT then why must then move on.

Our mission, is to honor out fallen friends.

Be the best human being possible. They gave their lives so we could enjoy ours. DO NOT waste it. Be the best husband, wife, father, mother, son, friend, worker, etc you can be. That is honoring our friends.




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Through many countries and over many seas
I have come, Brother, to these melancholy rites,
to show this final honour to the dead,
and speak (to what purpose?) to your silent ashes,
since now fate takes you, even you, from me.
Oh, Brother, ripped away from me so cruelly,
now at least take these last offerings, blessed
by the tradition of our parents, gifts to the dead.
Accept, by custom, what a brother’s tears drown,
and, for eternity, Brother, ‘Hail and Farewell’.

Gaius Valerius Catullus

Catullus 101 is an elegiac poem written by the Roman poet Gaius Valerius Catullus. It is addressed to Catullus’s dead brother or, strictly speaking, to the “mute ashes” which are the only remaining evidence of his brother’s body.

The tone is grief-stricken and tender, with Catullus trying to give the best gift he had to bestow (a poem) on his brother, who was taken prematurely. The last words, “Hail and Farewell” (in Latin, ave atque vale), are among Catullus’ most famous; an alternative modern translation might be “I salute you…and goodbye”.



About The Author

David K. Devaney SgtMaj USMC Retired 2009 City of Hit Iraq with PTTDavid was born in Geneva New York and graduated from Geneva High School in 1980. He joined the Marine Corps on a guaranteed Infantry contract in April of 1983. After graduating boot camp he was stationed in Hawaii with 3rdBattalion 3rd Marines (3/3). While assigned to 3/3 he held billets as a rifleman, fire team leader, and squad leader. During 1986 Corporal (Cpl) Devaney was selected as a member of Surveillance and Target Acquisition (STA) Platoon, 3rd Battalion 3rd Marine. Upon graduation of Scout Sniper School he was assigned to the Scout Sniper Section of 3/3 STA Platoon. During his second deployment as a Scout Sniper with 3/3 he was promoted to Sergeant (Sgt). After a tour on the drill field from 1989-1991 Sgt Devaney returned to STA 3/3 were he deployed two more times. During 1994 Sgt Devaney was selected to the rank of Staff Sergeant (SSgt) and ordered to III Marine Expeditionary Force (III MEF), Special Operation Training Group (SOTG); while at SOTG SSgt Devaney was assigned as a Reconnaissance and Surveillance (R&S) and Urban Sniper Instructor and Chief Instructor. At the time III MEF SOTG Instructors were members of Joint Task Force 510 (JTF 510 CT); a Counter Terrorism Task Force. In 1998 he deployed to Operation Desert Fox with Battalion Landing Team (BLT) 2/4 and was attached to Operational Detachment Alpha (ODA) 572/594 as a sniper. SSgt Devaney deployed again, during 2000, with ODA 135/136/132 to Malaysia as member of JTF 510, working with the Malaysian National Police. After leaving SOTG Gunnery Sergeant (GySgt) Devaney was assigned to Company A 1st Battalion 7th Marine, and spent much of his time training the Scout Snipers of 1/7. Just before the invasion of Iraq, in 2003, he was selected to the rank of First Sergeant (1stSgt) and led 270 Marines, sailors, and soldiers during combat – receiving a Bronze Star Medal for destroying the enemy and their will to fight. During 2004 1st Sgt Devaney was ordered to duty as the Inspector Instructor Staff 1st Sgt for 2nd Beach and Terminal Operations Company, Savannah, Georgia. During 2007 he was selected to the rank of Sergeant Major (SgtMaj) and received orders to Electronic Warfare Squadron 4 (VMAQ-4) stationed at Cherry Point, NC. There he trained a CADRE which in turn trained a massive Quick Reaction Force in combat operations. After two more deployments to Iraq SgtMaj Devaney received orders to Weapons Training Battalion, Quantico, VA. SgtMaj Devaney retired from the Marine Corps on 31 December 20013. He now works as an adjunct combat instructor at the “Crucible’’ in Fredericksburg, VA. David is also on the Board of Directors of the Marine Corps Scout Sniper Association. David’s published work: Books Devaney, D.K. (2007). Surviving combat: Mentally and physically (3rd edition). 29 Palms, CA: USMC. Devaney, D.K. (2015). They Were Heroes: A Sergeant Major’s Tribute to Combat Marines of Iraq and Afghanistan. Annapolis, Maryland: Naval Institute Press. Articles Devaney, D.K. (2011) Enough Talk of Suicide, Already! Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2011) Can PTSD Be Prevented Through Education? Proceedings Magazine. Devaney, D.K. (2012) PTSD Is Not Cancer. The Marine Corps Gazette. Devaney, D.K. (2012) Women in Combat Arms Units. The Marine Corps Gazette.

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