Friday, March 09, 2012

Navy Chaplain Recalls Journey in Latest Real Warriors Campaign Video Profile

“You can’t go back to what you were … you have to adapt to what you are.”

—Lt. Cmdr. Steve Dundas
U.S. Navy chaplain

With 30 years in the military, the last 12 with the Navy, Lt. Cmdr. Steve Dundas thought he was sufficiently familiar with and steeled against the impacts of war. A deployment to Anbar province, Iraq, where he supported service members stationed in remote areas, changed his mind: literally.

As a trauma department chaplain, Dundas had seen death. He had studied post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) and ministered to Marines diagnosed with it. But on this mission, he experienced the full impact of what Marines were exposed to—sights, sounds, smells and sheer exhaustion; traveling through some of the most hostile and inhospitable areas in Iraq; and coming under attack, the constant awareness that chaplains were a favorite target of al Qaeda.

When he returned home he felt disconnected from the life he knew. He questioned his faith. Constantly angry, depressed and on-edge, Dundas felt at-odds with his life and his spiritual calling.

A medical officer recognized his PTSD symptoms. With help from a therapist, Dundas started a journey of self-discovery, processing his combat exposure, spiritual crisis and life experiences through writing.

Dundas returned to his profession with new perspectives and a heightened awareness that for some who seek his help, seeking psychological health care may be the best advice he can give.

In this new Real Warriors Campaign video profile, Dundas delivers a clear message of hope and understanding to service members coping with psychological health concerns: while life may have changed for them, they can find a path forward by reaching out for help.

“It’s not something where we’re going to be better overnight [from seeking help] but it will be … a step on the way to healing … a step on the way to integrating those [combat] experiences with our daily life now,” said Dundas.

Real Warriors video profiles stand as testimony to the strength shown by service members who’ve reached out for psychological health care and support. View all of the videos and find information and resources at