Serving with Honor – Chapter 6: Bounce Back

Chapter 6 of Col Ellis’s book focused on resilience, the bounce back. Anyone who has ever dealt with a chronically stressful situation such as a sick family member or a serious physical injury knows that at one point, this is just how life is. You set new expectations of reality and somehow, most learn to find the positive in each day. It is very hard to comprehend years of captivity alone, yet when you add in the torture and other suffering these men suffered, it is unfathomable. Yet somehow, they not only survived, but in many cases, thrived in the face of this adversity. Col Ellis focused on two themes with his examples of two different groups. He discussed how he and his fellow POWs maintained their mental and even physical capabilities through humor, hope and faith. He talked about their sense of duty and purpose but expanded upon this idea when he talked about the families back home that began national POW/MIA initiatives. After years of being without hope, a group of wives of the POWs worked together with other family members to start the National League of POW/MIA families. They worked to put national and political focus on the issues and made service to the families a priority. This helped them cope and heal as well.

Two other issues came to light for me in the reading. First, Col Ellis routinely mentions, throughout the book, examples where things may have been bad for him, but were so much worse for others. Many times we are aware of what others are dealing with, but often we are not. None of us are in a place to judge others and as is often said, if we were all to throw our troubles in a pile and choose other ones – we would almost always take our own back. We have learned to deal with them and we have learned to find the blessings that we do have. Second, I think he gave a great example to show that sometimes part of being resilient is realizing we have a right to feel burdened and even overwhelmed. And, equally important, sometimes part of the bouncing back is getting the help we need. The Sybil Stockdale example highlighted a completely different situation that being imprisoned in a POW camp, but a situation from which she needed to find her own resilience.

As with the rest of the book, he provides numerous examples including those above and in a business setting. This allows a better understanding and the ability to internalize the information.

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