Moving Deeper into the Combat Experience

europe genealogy writing wwii Sep 14, 2018

I’ve spent more than 20 years in the fields of genealogy/family history and military history with a focus the last decade on World War I and World War II. I taught myself a lot where genealogy was concerned, and attended classes and conferences. I participated in the community’s professional genealogy education. Throughout everything I studied or read, the focus was on names, dates, places, sometimes historical context, but never on exploring the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual side of family.

When I began researching in-depth both world wars, which led me to teach and write books on how to research any branch, there was no one to teach me what to do. No one in the country had written educational materials. Yes there were two very outdated books on barely researching Army service, but beyond that nothing existed. The few people who were starting to lecture on this were not going beyond the basics of “all the records burned and here are some online resources.” They skimmed the surface of what was available. Most still do. A decade ago there were military researchers and genealogy researchers who would pull records for you. A few would also help you understand what you were looking at. And again, I have noticed that no one is paying attention to the physical, mental, emotional, or spiritual side of service member’s experiences.

Why are researchers not looking at the entire experience? A holistic approach? Witnessing the changes that take place in the lives of my clients who choose this is amazing. I have observed that both the genealogy and military communities tend to shy away from this because it is too “crazy”, “out there”, “spiritual”, or “woo-woo”. It’s not acceptable to talk about such things or admit we converse with the dead or can heal. But what if it is acceptable and people stopped being so afraid to be who they really are and show this side of themselves with their clients?
Exploring all of these aspects of a service member’s experience has been part of the work I do for many years. It began with research into my own family stories and those who died, and the few who returned changed, from World War I or World War II. Knowing their experiences affected the entire family and trickled down through our DNA, finding answers to questions, disinterring family secrets, and understanding who my military family members were and who I am has been an ongoing journey for me. I’ve done a tremendous amount of writing both in books I’ve published and my own journals in an attempt to sort it all out. We don’t often consider the things that trigger us or upset us are actually not ours. We are just conditioned or have it in our DNA that this is “normal” when in reality, we can find answers, heal and release it. Then we are no longer at the effect of the trigger.

In the last couple of years, the people who ask to work with me on military projects are looking for the basic answers of course. This is why people start research – they have unanswered questions or family stories that do not make sense. Yet these last two years specifically, have brought a new kind of client my way, mixed in with those who just want answers. People are showing up who require not only an understanding of what the combat situation was for their family member, but also the effects of the emotional, spiritual, mental, and physical experiences. Through the writing and teaching I have done, I offer a depth that is not found elsewhere. This calls to some people seeking that, which has caused a shift in which potential clients choose to work with me.

In some cases, the clients do not intend to explore these areas, but through the research process and discussion of what was discovered, different emotions and questions rise. It is my job to help clients understand on the different levels, what the information means and how it affects them today.

I have had clients who have a deep need to understand their father’s (or other family member’s) role in the war. What was his specific mission? Why was he stationed where he was? What affect did he in his one role out of millions, play to help win the war? What caused his alcoholism, PTSD, anger, rage, the physical/emotional/mental abuse he put on his family? Why did he leave his family?

Perhaps the most important questions then rise – Who was my father (or other family member) REALLY? Who am I now that I know this? How does this knowledge and understanding change me?

Using the research skills I have, my empath and medium capabilities, with many other capacities and gifts I have, clients leave the project with answers. Issues cleared and put to rest. A better understanding of who their family member was and who they are. Even clients who are not specifically looking for this and may not be aware it is happening, they too are affected by the project outcome.

Many clients go on to process the information in their own way- creating art, writing a book or memoir, simply journaling for themselves, writing or playing music, and a multitude of other things we use to process and cope with our own things. One client (named with her permission), artist and World War II historian, Erin Faith Allen, has dedicated much of her life to studying and understanding war, trauma, what causes people to choose what they choose. Learn more about Erin, her amazing artwork, and her new book “The In Between”.

Have you been searching for a researcher who can take you beyond names, dates, and places? Would you like to find answers to your family’s questions and explore not only their military experience but other levels? Contact me today to discuss research project options, timelines, costs, and outcomes.

© 2018 World War II Research and Writing Center

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