An injured soldier having had a Near Death Experience (NDE) awakens in the hospital traumatized, in pain and often confused and very emotional about an experience they do not understand. They recall vivid memories of their life-changing event and need answers to their many questions, seeking comfort and support. When their questions go unanswered or are casually dismissed, it leaves an indelible impression on them to not discuss their NDE further, leaving them in an emotional limbo. They become fearful that they will not be believed, or that they will be rejected, ridiculed, mischaracterized as “mental” or being misdiagnosed as psychotic and treated with unwarranted drug therapies, producing serious side effects. In addition, they worry that if they discuss their NDE, they may lose their security clearance and benefits.
Wounded soldiers, feeling vulnerable, place their trust in the medical staff to care, comfort and support their needs, including looking for answers to questions about their life-altering NDE. Unfortunately, more times than not, their NDE account is casually dismissed or trivialized by the very medical personnel sworn to heal them. Instead, they are given sedatives and other drugs, to help cope with any perceived stress associated with their “so-called” NDE.
The first line of defense to assist patients who have had an NDE should take place at their bedside, while in the hospital, by medical personnel or clergy trained to deal with patients who have experienced an NDE. But that is just not the case, producing a patient “gap of care.” Since NDEs are not typically accepted as a “real” event among the medical community and some clergy, soldier’s NDE accounts are dismissed as non-factual; an illusion produced by post-traumatic stress, or perhaps a lack of oxygen etc. The denial of the NDE being a “real” event leads to this “gap of care.” This lack of validation of the NDE account can have a damaging impact on the soldier’s psyche, causing them to lose confidence in expressing their NDE. They are left on their own to “work it out” and often revert to conditioned responses taught during combat training, suppressing their feelings deep inside, which complicates their PTSD.
The impact of this crucial “gap of care” should not be marginalized. It is not merely a missed opportunity to help resolve concerns the soldier may have about their NDE. The “gap of care“ is traumatizing, exacerbating the already devastating, life changing injuries sustained, including PTSD, and magnifies feelings of confusion, fear, isolation and hopeless despair, with little to no way out.
Dr. Corcoran urges all to watch IANDS’ latest NDE video DVD, Understanding Veterans' Near-Death Experiences, produced by Roberta Moore of Blue Marble Films. Viewers will learn that there is a simple, viable and effective remedy to close the “gap of care” for our injured soldiers, who have experienced an NDE, by providing confidential, timely, non-judgmental comfort and support at their bedside.
NDEs are a real experience to the soldier and must be validated as such.