Sunday, April 20, 2014

Avalon Chronicles #28: "Balm of Gilead"

Avalon Chronicles #28: "Balm of Gilead"
by Allen Clark

     Resurrection Day 2014 is a very propitious day to consider the topic of healing. Two or so weeks ago I received a message from Donald R. Moeller, an Oral and Maxillofacial Surgeon, who lives in Columbus, Ga. Dr. Moeller is a D.D.S., and  M.D., also with an MA in Biological Sciences. He had deployed as a Medical Corpsman to Vietnam and as a surgeon in his specialty to Desert Storm. He wrote, "I am a Vietnam and Desert Storm veteran who is treating veterans with PTSD and Traumatic Brain Injury" by means of what in my (Allen's) non-medical description is a mouthpiece worn at night to stop teeth-grinding and therefore helps alleviate headaches, nightmares, and sleep disruptions. Dr. Moeller sent me a paper that was published in the "Journal of Special Operations Medicine" describing his research and success with over 200 patients whom he has treated without charge. He said, "Time to add a spiritual dimension to this treatment. These guys and gals are still depressed even when their nightmares and headaches and sleep disruptions are gone....I am looking for Christian/Biblical methodologies which are proving successful....Got any thoughts on this or suggestions?"
     I was immensely intrigued with what he was accomplishing with my fellow war veterans, curious as to how he found out about me, and most anxious to be in touch with him. I was not sure how to respond, but knew that the best way was to pray and receive guidance from God as how to proceed. Linda began a prayer and as she prayed, the word "balm" came to my mind. We began to discuss the topic and she said we place casts for broken bones, medicine for infection, and there was to be a balm for the spiritual healing of the soul. I looked up balm in my Webster's dictionary and found, "to soothe, to mitigate, to assuage" which led  "to ease or lessen pain or grief or tumult, to soften in harshness or severity." In my personal lay ministry I have spoken to many troops and veterans about not just coping with our combat operating stressors, but as did I in the 1970s, come to a level of my Christian faith that I could heal with the major symptoms of my PTSD.
     Linda's musical background led her to the Black-American spiritual titled "There is a Balm in Gilead." The words of this are, "There is a balm in Gilead, To make the wounded whole; There is a balm in Gilead, To heal the sin-sick soul." I commented that those of us with PTSD are not necessarily sinful, but we definitely are sick in our souls. Further research led us to find out about the geographical Gilead, which is located east of the Jordan River. In the Hebrew Old Testament Gilead was a place of refuge for Jacob (Genesis 31:21-55); the nation of Israel (I Samuel 13:7); and even King David (2Samuel 17:22).
     I was ready to talk to Dr. Moeller. Initially I was most curious as to how Dr. Moeller found me. In a fashion highly complimentary he said he did a search of hundreds of web sites and decided to contact me after coming across mine. Dr. Moeller referred me to a book titled War and the Soul by Edward Tick, Ph.D. I am not all the way through the book, but its basic thesis is that war causes "soul damage." This, of course, is the negative effect to our mind, emotions, and our will due to the traumas of combat. Damage to our soul ultimately is a spiritual issue. In my own healing process, the damage to my soul after my double leg amputation from Vietnam shrapnel wounds, my PTSD (whose term there is an effort to change to PTSI for injury), fourteen weeks in a closed psychiatric ward, and six years of psychiatrists and antidepressants, was solely due to my spiritual healing process by which I got the big picture about Jesus truly being the Son of God, Who died on a cross two thousand years ago, for me to have eternal life. At a church service I teared as I looked at the American flag and realized I needed to move my identity from that of a loyal and patriotic American soldier to add the dimension of an added and much more consequential identity as a Christian. Once I accomplished that spiritual maturation, I began a walk of faith which has served me in excellent stead to be "healed" from all the major issues I suffered in my damaged soul after Vietnam.
     I asked Dr. Moeller about permission to describe what he does without charge to treat our troubled war veterans with his dental procedure and asked permission also to tell about how we came in contact and also mention his contact information. I said several hundred people read my Avalon Chronicles and he may have several new patients. He had told me previously that patients even outside his Fort Benning area come at their own expense in to Columbus and he fits them with his oral device. His reply, "Send all the patients you want. That is why I am on this earth." I have often wondered how my life would have differed had I not returned from Vietnam with my severe wounds. For sure I would not be attempting to help my fellow war veterans heal their soul damage by introducing them to the only long-term balm they can have to heal them which is the ultimate spiritual refuge, the healing power of Jesus. Perhaps, also, that is why I was able to remain on this earth. I published last year a tract which is my  approach to the healing of PTSD(I) by Christian methodology. Anyone desiring a copy may message me at email above. May God bless and keep you.

Dr Moeller may be contacted at

Tuesday, April 1, 2014

Avalon Chronicles #27: "Valor in Vietnam"

Avalon Chronicles #27: "Valor in Vietnam"
     by Allen B. Clark

     In 1979 I became the special assistant for administration to newly-elected Texas Governor Bill Clements and moved with my family to Austin from Dallas. During my thirty month time in that very satisfying and uplifting position I met people from all over the state. One of the people I met was Robert Floyd, who represented the legislative interests of an organization. In those early years after the Vietnam War unless we met someone in a veteran setting, we did not necessarily realize we shared a mutual history as fellow Vietnam veterans. I do not recall whether I knew then that Robert had served in Vietnam with the 101st Airborne Division.
     Fast forward to a few years ago on a cruise to Alaska on a Pastor Chuck Swindoll-led trip on which I became acquainted with an Austinite, Michael Wright, with whom I developed an instant affinity, mostly because we shared the Vietnam experience. He spoke about a committee on which he served titled the Texas Capitol Vietnam Veterans Monument Committee, chaired by the same Robert Floyd, who had been off my radar screen for thirty or so years. Robert and I became reacquainted and I learned of the plans which had been ongoing since 2005 to build and place on the Texas Capitol grounds a monument to all Texans who served in Vietnam with special tribute to the 3,417 fallen Texas heroes who did not return with us. There are many war "memorials" to our Killed In Action (KIAs), but this was conceived as a "monument" to us all.
     Several days before the actual March 29, 2014 unveiling of the monument on the Capitol grounds in Austin, Robert, who had been in attendance in July 2012 in Dallas with his son-in-law Troy Ferguson, a West Pointer class of 1995, at the inaugural book signing of my book Valor in Vietnam Chronicles of Honor, Courage, and Sacrifice sent me a note indicating he was to be including in his dedication remarks the term "Valor in Vietnam" as indicative of  what we Vietnam veterans reflected by our service in the war.
     The morning of March 29, 2014 dawned with a brilliantly clear and cloudless blue sky, a perfect day for the monument ceremony on the northeast grounds of the Capitol. The program described it thusly, "Above a 'sunset red' granite pediment a series of large bas-relief panels capture scenes depicting the men and women of Texas who served in the U.S. Armed Forces in Vietnam. Poised above the panels, five 'Dawn Patrol' figures represent the service and sacrifice of Texas combat infantry troops."
     Seated just down the sidewalk from the center of the ceremony, we were serenaded by the Texas Children's Choir and the 36th Infantry Division Band. 4000 audience members packed seats and stands. Before the ceremony I stood and gazed around the audience and felt a great sense of pride to be amongst the men and women who had gone off to that controversial war with me. I scanned across the faces of the ones who truly reflected "Valor in Vietnam," a phrase in fact later included in Floyd's remarks, those who did    not obtain deferments or skip off to Mexico or Canada or Scandinavia.
     There were many poignant moments, but my tears gushed forth freely twice, once as I pulled Linda close to me when the blue covering fell away to reveal the breathtaking monument in all its glory and again when the choir sang "Mansions of the Lord," the theme song of the movie "We Were Soldiers." Joe Galloway, who was the war correspondent actually in the November 1965  Battle of the Ia Drang Valley, depicted in the movie, delivered most eloquent and heartfelt remarks. I believe it was Robert Floyd who attributed to Galloway that, "Vietnam veterans were not the 'Greatest Generation', but were the greatest of our generation." My belief in that sentiment was certainly enhanced after the day's experiences. Two of my West Point class of 1963 Texans were KIA in our war, Ralph Walker and Burt McCord, both of whose daughters I am acquainted.. Burt was singled out specifically by Floyd because they were both from Brady, Texas. A set of personalized dog tags for each of the Texas KIA is entombed in the monument, having been personally stamped by Marine Don Dorsey, another Vietnam veteran from the long-past Austin days.
     Eddie McCord Cargile, Burt's widow, attended with Gene Cargile, another classmate. Lieutenant Governor David Dewhurst delivered very moving remarks from his heart and afterwards we passed and he quietly said to me, "Thank you for all you do." Governor Rick Perry paused on his departure and hugged Linda.
     Robert Floyd brought to that 2012 book signing as I mentioned his son-in-law Troy Ferguson. Troy has two sons, Caleb and Daniel. When the ceremony was over, I spoke to Troy, waved down the row to Kimberly, his wife and Robert and Sherry Floyd's daughter, touched the heads of both sons and asked them how they were. Daniel proclaimed only one word, "Awesome!" That one word said it all for me to describe the day. It was AWESOME!
     Our Lord grants us great gifts in life. Many are what I term "closures" with people or happenings, full circle coming around experiences. This day was that with Robert Floyd amongst my fellow participants from that long ago, harsh and cruel war in that far-off land. The memories dim, but the experience was uplifted magnificently that day in the shared surroundings of my fellow "Greatest of Our Generation" Texans.

(A monument mobile tour may be found at