|"Checkmate" To PTSD
by MaryTherese Griffin, U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition
to war on a battlefield could be compared to a game of chess.
Strategic moves are needed to advance and conquer. Staff Sgt.
Patrick Barrington was no pawn in this chess game called life. The
now retired M1 Armor Crewman and his team operated armored equipment
and fired weapons to destroy enemy positions.
images…Injuries…Post-traumatic stress…Heavy stuff.
was medically transported to the Warrior Transition Battalion at
Fort Sam Houston, Texas from Saudi Arabia in 2013 because his
superiors thought he had severe PTSD and paranoia while also
suffering from shoulder and back injuries.
Placing the right
soldier for the right reason at this WTB would be just as great as a
move on the chess board. However, bringing in an actual chess board
would wind up being a brilliant move.
The game of chess was
introduced to Barrington as therapy by his site coordinator Brad
Bowen and he says it’s the best gift anyone has ever given to him.
Chess started out as a hobby for Barrington, but it soon evolved
into more. The game revolves around numbers, and this armored
crewman had an affinity for math. He’s gotten quite good since he
began playing with his official chess ranking hovering around 1300.
But even better than that, he is encouraging others to play chess
and stay out of trouble.
“I have been able to introduce
chess to hundreds of teenagers at Camp Minden, the school where I
teach. This game gives the kids something to do that could possibly
distract them from getting involved in drugs and alcohol. I tell
them instead of going to the club at night; find a chess club,”
Barrington said. “Chess is an underappreciated game in the United
States. Most Americans want entertainment that centers around their
emotions, while chess is all logic. I encourage them to embrace the
In his 2016 book TRIBE, Bestselling author Sebastian
Junger makes it clear that, “Perhaps most important when dealing
with PTSD is that Veterans need to feel that they are just as
necessary and productive back in society as they were on the
battlefield.” The Warrior Care and Transition Program is designed to
do just that. It provides Career Education and Readiness tools,
Clinical assistance and Adaptive Reconditioning to support and help
each Soldier advance toward their future be it returning to duty or
transitioning out of the Army.
Now you do not' need to be a
math wizard to be great at chess, even though the game is
mathematical. Chess legend Bobby Fisher did not finish high school
and he obtained a ranking of 2770 on top of a world championship.
Barrington’s championship is in handling his PTSD by
reconditioning his energy from brawn to brain. He now teaches adult
education at Camp Minden La. for troubled youths, mostly high school
algebra and social studies. “A lot of people I introduce the game
to, especially teenagers, make the mistake of treating it like
boxing or football. They believe they can win at it with heart and I
have to explain to them that their emotions are irrelevant, you will
have to play this game with your brain.”
by aryTherese Griffin, U.S. Army Warrior Care and Transition
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