Wednesday, November 18, 2009
I delayed Patriots and Heroes to brag on catching my criminal, but now back to business. This week's hero is a Marine, but I will not hold that against him. Sergeant Jeremiah Workman was born on August 26, 1983 in Marion Ohio. Sgt. Workman enlisted in The Corps prior to graduating high school, and became a mortarman. Workman fought in The Second Battle of Fallujah (Operation Phantom Fury), where his battery bombarded many an insurgent. After the battle, Sgt. Workman's platoon patrolled the streets as part of the security force subduing the city. During a patrol, a squad commanded by his friend, Sgt. Jarrett Kraft, was ambushed by insurgents. Sgt. Workman performed many acts of bravery during this encounter, and the citation for his Navy Cross can be found here. These actions make the Sergeant both Hero and Patriot in my view, but there is more to his story.
Sgt. Workman has somewhat of an "aww shucks" attitude about his brave actions that day, something that is much more common in television and movies than in real life. Sgt. Workman openly admits to being frightened, having to will himself into combat, PTSD, shedding tears, depression and the weakness of using alcohol to deal with his problems. All of these things violate the cult of manhood in general, and the attitude that the general public expects of a United States Marine in particular. His openness about these issues raises him immeasurably in my esteem, as it should in yours. Sergeant Workman shines the light on PTSD, drags it out into the light and strangles it with both hands. He aides others in their efforts to deal with this often debilitating disorder, and is brave enough to be candid about his own struggles with this disorder and the effects it has had on his family. Many featured in "American Patriot/Hero of the Week" are good, brave men, but I can not think of anyone else I have featured quite as brave as Sgt. Workman.
It is often far easier to be brave under fire, when all you have to do is look out for yourself and your mates, and all you risk is death. A more difficult task, is to openly, and publicly, face your demons when you do not have to, and risk stigmatization and humiliation which is often worse than death. This is especially true for men. We are expected to be brave and to deal with the worst life can throw out with noting more than a witty quip, and this holds doubly true for one as "tough" as we expect a Marine to be. Sgt. Workman rejects this image that society has forced upon his brothers, and tells the sufferers of this most "unmanly" of disorders to get help. In his recent book "Shadow of the Sword" Sgt. workman exhorts us all, "We need to reframe the debate, change the perception of PTSD in the country at large, and find ways to show the real consequences of combat in Hollywood epics. Until that happens, there will be plenty of good men and women who live in despair, unwilling to reach out and admit they can't battle this demon on their own. The stereotype and the stigma associated with PTSD must be destroyed. There are lives at stake."