“Solder’s Heart,” PTSD, and Post Traumatic Growth in the Warrior Class

A colleague of mine at the university, Will Elenchin, just published a new book on how to deal with post-traumatic stress disorder. Will teaches in St. Bonaventure’s sociology department, so I don’t see him all that often, but he’s an exceptionally nice guy—one of those folks you’re glad you know. I sent him a quick note of congratulations. “What a great idea for a book,” I told him, “and what a great service it’ll provide.”

“Thanks, Chris,” he replied. “And an obvious connection to your own writing.”

Will mentioned the traumas Civil War soldiers had to deal with but without an infrastructure to help them deal with it. “The term ‘Soldier’s heart’ during the Civil War was a precursor to shell shock from WWI, battle fatigue of WW2, and finally PTSD,” he pointed out.

With that specific connection in mind, I thought it might be of interest to some of ECW’s readers to learn more about Will’s book, PTSD & Post Traumatic Growth in the Warrior Class: A Tactical Primer for Students and Practitioners in Military, Police, and Medicine. The book is a practical guide for modern audiences, not a Civil War book. But knowing how complicated trauma was for Civil War soldiers and how that field of study has come into better focus in the last few years, Will’s book could offer some insights for readers that might help them better understand that aspect of the Civil War veteran experience.

“That whole topic area is just fascinating,” Will said. “Early forms of anesthesia, such as ether and chloroform, were used. They did help ease the pain but are a far cry from what we experience today in the OR. As you know, the physical and emotional wounds inflicted were just brutal.”

There’s a poignant story behind Will’s book, too, which I’ll let St. Bonaventure University’s press release share (along with details on the book):


A few years ago, Dr. Will Elenchin, associate professor of sociology and criminology at St. Bonaventure University, was granted a sabbatical leave from teaching to work on his fourth book on behavioral health, this one dealing with post-traumatic stress disorder in high-stress professions.

The project took an unexpected big turn less than a year later when Elenchin’s son, Zac, a U.S. Army combat medic serving a deployment in Afghanistan, experienced PTSD after responding to a mass casualty event. 

Zac Elenchin has since made healthy strides toward recovery, and father and son now share authorship on their just-released new book: “PTSD & Post Traumatic Growth in the Warrior Class: A Tactical Primer for Students and Practitioners in Military, Police, and Medicine.”

The book is a manual for understanding the trauma often experienced by members of what the Elenchins refer to as the “warrior class,” students and practitioners who work in high-stress fields such as the military, police, and medical professions.

“The first goal of this text is to help you understand how high-impact events can lead to trauma,” Will Elenchin said. “Trauma is complex in that it can both suddenly and subtly drain the physical, emotional, mental, and spiritual resources that we possess but may take for granted. Zac’s story is about the proverbial overachiever being knocked off his horse by unexpected negative events that often impact soldiers, police, and medical folks in the course of their duties. Our goal is to help you take protective steps to avoid common pitfalls.”

The book’s second focus is on the less familiar concept of post-traumatic growth (PTG), the idea that suffering can lead to resiliency and personal improvement.

“This may sound almost blasphemous to some, yet suffering, while not desirable, often leads to advancement in some areas of our lives. Once you recognize that, you’ll be empowered with a perspective that helps to transform your attitudes and actions in ways that are beneficial to yourself and those around you,” Will Elenchin said.

Using Zac’s story of suffering, treatment, resiliency and growth as a backdrop, the book defines PTSD and identifies at-risk groups and individuals; addresses treatment; and concludes with tactical tips for those susceptible to PTSD to achieve resiliency and growth.

The manual is not meant to replace counseling, medical intervention, support groups, or guidance by clergy, Will Elenchin said. “What this book does offer is an overview of PTSD and PTG by someone who’s been there and who can share with you tips to help avoid or at least lessen the impact of trauma as well as ideas on ways to come out stronger on the other side.” 

The book includes a forward by Dr. Gregory Privitera, professor of psychology at St. Bonaventure and a U.S. Marine Corps veteran. “The authors provide an invaluable tactical primer to help the warrior class and practitioners alike not only make better decisions about mental health, but also, by extension, to lead happier, healthier, and more fulfilling lives,” Privitera writes.

Published by Kendall Hunt Publishing, the book is available now in digital format and a hard copy edition will be available soon. Interested readers may go to https://he.kendallhunt.com/ and enter this ISBN in the search box: 9798765762370.

Prior to teaching, Will Elenchin served as an Army Military Police officer, fraud investigator, and behavioral health therapist. His three other books are Hidden Courage: Reconnecting Faith and Character with Mental Wellness, Happy Without the Meal: Reflections from Catholic Faith and Reason, and Rethinking Stress in an Age of Ease: A Field Manual for Students of all Ages.

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