Great Book about Healing by Returning to the Land of War to Find Peace

John Wesley Fisher, DC, asked if I would review and write an endorsement for his new book, Dak To Rx: A Travelogue – A Veteran Returns to the Land of His Nightmares. John is a Vietnam veteran and the Founding Director of CORE (Community Reconciliation)Viet Nam. Dak To is the name of a town in Vietnam that John had been in during the Vietnam War. Returning to engage with the land and the people, now from a state of peace, rather than war, leads to healing and the formation of many friendships. One Vietnamese veteran tells John, “Now all survivors are the same…we didn’t kill each other, so now we can be friends and teach the world about peace together.” Here is my endorsement of the book:

Dak To RX is just what the doctor ordered for healing PTSD and coming home from war to peace. John Wesley Fisher is a man of many places and roles: seeker, chiropractor, surfer, traveler, and Vietnam Veteran.

Dak To RX is a journal of his journeys throughout Vietnam in 2011-2012 where he finds compassion, acceptance, peace, and healing from the people he meets and the places where he walks up on the land. His nightmare becomes a dream of peace and healing.

Fisher notes that it is “a sacred time being on the road,” and his journey is a sacred journey of healing. He meets many Veterans (both former allies and enemies) and survivors of the American War in Vietnam along the way. What he learns from one former enemy is, “Now all survivors are the same…we didn’t kill each other, so now we can be friends and teach the world about peace together.”

David R. Kopacz, MD

Psychiatrist, Seattle VA
National VA Education Champion – Office of Patient Centered Care & Cultural Transformation
Assistant Professor, University of Washington

Memorial Day Wishes of Peace for those on all sides of the Vietnam War – Bánh Xe Y Học: Hành Trình

On Memorial Day we remember those whom we have lost. Official reports of loss of US soldiers in the Vietnam War is 58,000+. A 2008 British Medical Journal study estimates 3.8 million total deaths during the Vietnam War (called the Resistance War Against America in Vietnam). The suffering of war continues long after the war ends with PTSD, Moral Injury, Agent Orange exposure, and even suicide. Controversy exists over the number of US Vietnam veterans who have committed suicide since returning home, with estimates from 9,000 (in a 1990 study) to over 50,000 reported in various places. As a psychiatrist who works daily with veterans, I see the long-lasting after effects of war. Brain science has been pushing back the age of full development for the human brain, with 25 years of age being considered brain maturity. Wars typically are fought by the young and after every war we have a generation of veterans whose developing brains have been shaped by war and the imprint of death. The casualties of war are the walking wounded as well as the deceased, and many of the wounds are not visible.

I just received a box of books from Vietnam, the Vietnamese translation of Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD (Bánh Xe Y Học: Hành Trình). It is really amazing to hold these books from Vietnam in my hands and compare them side by side. I work with so many veterans at the VA who served in Vietnam and to have the words of peace that Joseph Rael (Beautiful Painted Arrow) and I have put together into this book translated into Vietnamese feels very important.

The work of peace is a continual work, like tending a garden. To receive a box of books from Vietnam about bringing peace to veterans is like getting a big packet of seeds to replant what has been injured by war. For Joseph, language is very important, not just in conveying meaning, but in creating spiritual realities. To have the healing properties of the medicine wheel translated into Vietnamese brings our two lands and peoples closer together in peace. Translators Huỳnh ngọc trụ & Lê Thục Uyên Phương have worked to bring American English and Vietnamese into resonance with each other. In his book, House of Shattering Light, Joseph wrote about how the war gods were first created out of the fear that people had, but that later they came home to peace and became peace gods. In Walking the Medicine Wheel: Healing Trauma & PTSD, the title of chapter 14 is “Return to the Held-back Place of Goodness, which translates into Vietnamese as, “Trở Về Nơi Tốt Lành,” Return to Good Place.” Peace is this Good Place and Joseph tells us that we all have it within our hearts, we can forget about it, we can loose touch with it, but is always there. Our jobs as healers – both those working as healers for others, and those of us who are seeking to heal ourselves – is to find our way back home to this place of goodness, this place of peace. We are all wounded in one way or another, and yet we all have a source of goodness and healing within us – we are the medicine that we are seeking!