What I think is what I say. What I say is what I do. What I do is who I become. I AM TRANSFORMED!
Every week you can hear this mantra being repeated loudly over and over by the students in our classes. One of the first things the students learn that attend the KPM Leadership Academy is that change doesn't happen by chance it happens by choice. Many of our students have extreme negative obstacles from the past that they are working through. However, in the program, they have committed to diligently work to move forward in their lives allowing their dreams to become more of a reality than their past. They are learning that it takes awareness of what they think and what they say to change their behavior. It will take intention and discipline to put their newfound knowledge into action. This type of action will be required to gain the traction that is needed to design a new future for themselves.
I want to take you on a journey today. I want you to imagine signing up to be part of an elite group (The United States Armed Forces). Putting on a uniform and knowing that just your presence in a room brings a level of respect and admiration. Committing to fight for your country and being willing to do whatever it takes to make sure that others are safe and free. Even putting yourself in harm's way for others' safety, political freedom and love of country.
Now, imagine waking up in a foreign land, in hostile territory, extreme inclement weather, and such intense circumstances that every day is a fight to survive. You are given small rations of food and water not knowing what tomorrow will bring. Sleepless nights constantly on guard and in fear that if you closed your eyes your camp could be attacked, bombed, or secretly invaded. Can you imagine not knowing who your enemy is, who you can trust, and being suspicious of everyone?
Now you have served your time and have returned home to try and pick up your life possibly where you left off. But unbeknownst to others you have returned with battle scars on the inside that can't be seen. Scars on the inside that only you can see, hear and relive over and over. But the hardest part is that your scars are not physically debilitating. No one knows how to treat your wounds, including you. There are no bandages or ointments that can heal these wounds.
Now think of living day to day not being even able to put into words or express to anyone what you see when you close your eyes because it's just too painful. Not being able to sleep because of the nightmares that you relive of the traumatic experiences you encountered. Not being able to talk to anyone because they might perceive you to be weak or even crazy. Loss of job after job because you can't adapt because you have only known the structure of war and the daily survival of living a life as a warrior.
This is why over 20 veterans a day are taking their own lives. Indoctrinated in the ways of war and only knowing the military's (MO) method of operation they see no way out. It is heartbreaking but in many cases, the result, unfortunately, is drug or alcohol addiction, anger, depression, incarceration, or sadly a life lost by suicide.
The medical diagnosis for this trauma and disorder is known as PTSD or Post Traumatic Stress Disorder. Over 50% of the veteran men and women population that we reach in the prisons have been diagnosed with this disorder. Regretfully, there are little to no programs or effective therapy offered that addresses this much-needed topic.
There is already so much shame that comes from being an incarcerated veteran. Going from one who was once respected and honored while serving our country to becoming an inmate locked behind bars. They feel as if they are forgotten like a (POW) prisoner of war. Many of the veteran offenders have shared their resistance in the past to even identify themselves as a veteran in the prison due to the embarrassment that they feel now serving time for a crime they committed. There is no excuse for the wrong that was committed, however, there is a level of understanding of the lack of support and mental anguish that led many to the poor decision and criminal behavior.
We believe that we serve a God of second chances. So what is God's Method of Operation? God's method of operation is simple yet so profound. Early one morning I was just waking up and I was laying in my bed just spending a few moments praying, thinking, and mainly just listening. When suddenly, out of the blue I began to envision the letters "PTSD". Immediately after that, I heard on the inside, "if you want to be healed from "Post Traumatic Stress Disorder" this is the cure...... "Positive Talk Spoken Daily!" (PTSD)
Immediately, I knew that this was the answer for so many who are suffering silently and have been struggling for years with feelings of hopeless with no help or answers. We have been asking the Lord for the answer and this was it! Give them a tool and teach them to speak positively over their lives DAILY! Like tending a garden, this simple act will plant new seeds of life in their spirit that will bring healing and restoration as it chokes out the negative thoughts of the past. This simple but profound act will help begin the much-needed journey to freedom and healing.
So, this is our plan! This year we will begin working on a new project that will address PTSD from God's perspective. We are involving the veteran students in this by getting them to participate in writing entries that will help change themselves and their fellow comrades. The format will be like a daily devotional designed to remind them of their new identity in Christ. Each page will address an I AM Statement, I CAN Positive Declaration, and an I WILL Action Step! Each entry will also include a scripture to lay a biblical foundation along with the veterans name and the branch of service.
This resource will be free to all inmates and will provide pages filled with "Positive Talk they can Speak Daily." This will assist them in reprogramming their thoughts with their new identity in Christ. It will take them from where they are to where they want to be in their lives. They will become confident in what God says about them and understand how much they are valued and loved.
What we have explained to you is "why" the KPM Leadership Academy reaching incarcerated veterans exists. We have a passion for giving justice-involved veterans their dignity, honor and wings to fly again. We want to see their lives reformed so they can fulfill their God-given destiny as productive citizens once again.
They fought for us now we fight for them!