Americans are endless fascinated by Australian culture; we love Australian food, people, port visits, culture and music. Any Australian who plays the didgeridoo, runs ultra marathons, fought in the Rhodesian Bush war and who has dedicated his life to helping other service members with the credentials to back it up is an Australian you need to get to know.
Barry is able to take the deep truths that he has learned through years of study as a Clinical Psychologist and present them in such a way which is both inspirational and instructional to his military audience.
I was lucky enough to have the opportunity to get to know Barry Zworestine through his book “Which Way is your Claymore Facing?” It is a free download on his website and is chock full of practical advice both for those currently in the military and for those getting ready to transition. If you have not yet read the book I highly recommend you download it from his website.
Questions about the book:
- What is the back story behind “Which way is your Warrior Facing”? And why did you decide to write a transition book? – for many years I was providing support at no cost to Veterans around the world from my own War (The Rhodesian Bush War) in 1976/7. I have always had a strong drive and belief around having a service component to my work as a Psychologist with the Veteran organization here in Australia. I soon realized that I was simply not going to meet the needs of individuals requiring support. My vision was to create a practical resource. Over the years I began to combine my Operational experience and language into my support with Veterans. I could see that using terms like “pull through”, “Ambush”, “OP”, “trip flare”, “claymore”, “stoppage” etc. made sense to veterans and that they were more willing to engage and that the conversations we were having made sense to them. I could see that in addressing who they were and are, allowed them to see the value of their lessons learnt in the military and to transfer these lessons into Civilian life.
Eventually I published my first book “Which Way is your Claymore Facing-an operational Manual for Veterans adjusting to civilian life”. This comprised using operational language to teach an understanding of trauma and the brain as well as practical tools, strategies and lessons (no psych babble) that could immediately impact on the challenges being faced. I choose to write a book that was compact, small and could be carried in your back pocket or pack. It was a book that in its simplicity and in drawing on operational territory would make complete sense and have meaning to all.
Around a year later, I realised in working with Veterans and current serving that the core issue and challenges being discussed and faced were around the complexities of navigating and operating in Civilian territory. At that point I decided to write my second book “Which Way is your Warrior facing-an operational manual for current serving and veterans transitioning into civilian life”. I used the word “warrior” rather than “claymore” to move beyond the focus of operational based issues with the potential to be destructive both to oneself and others, to a more positive approach around moving forward constructively, embracing the Warrior and identifying the parameters and complexities of Civilian territory and learning to effectively operate in this new territory. At the same time, I was not wanting there to be any cost to this resource, so in order to make it freely available I created a PDF freely downloadable from my website. I include the first book in this as well as around 70 visuals, to create a more dynamic and varied book. I also combined over 250 short bites of “wisdom” that I had written over several years which could be both inspirational and instructional. In conclusion-I see the complexities of transitioning as what I call “the new operational front”. There are layers of challenges around loss of Tribe, mates, belonging, identity, purpose, capability, meaning etc that can significantly impact on a meaningful and successful transitioning.
- What experience caused you to see a need for your books on Military Transition?-I had been seeing numerous individuals from Veterans to Special Force individuals-highly capable individuals-who were struggling with not just transitioning issues but feeling abandoned by their military organisation and struggling to find recognition and a place for themselves in Civilian life. I felt that these issues were not being identified as clearly as the should be and from this experience I choose to try and find a way to contribute to creating something, a resource, that could be supportive.
- The last 20 pages or so of your book is bite sized philosophy for the warrior. Where did this philosophy develop?- over the years I had created visuals with inspirational/insightful sayings as well as submitting brief comments on core issues to various social media sites. I had drawn on my experience of being in the military, life challenges, and ultra-marathon running to inform thoughts and lessons that could also help others entering the territory. I had been collecting these with the goal being to have a small book of inspirational “wisdom” for Warriors. When writing my second book, I saw the value in including these several hundred “bite sized pieces of Wisdom” at the end of the book. My vision was to create a resource of many possibilities that veterans and current serving could dip into as needed. I often joke with my wife that when there are times that I feel as if I have my back to the wall, that reading what I wrote inspires me and helps me become unstuck.
Questions about you and your professional development:
- Why is reading important for our Military and/or the Nation?-there are many books out there now both autobiographical and inspirational where competent Warriors share their pain, wisdom, vulnerabilities and lessons. Through being exposed to these stories we in turn are invited to self-reflect and self-accept which in turn can facilitate healing and learning. I tend to read books from Warriors who have entered the Territory rather than professionals who come from a more academic perspective. A Veteran is a complex human being that is often difficult to understand for Civilians, partners and families. Books written by Veterans and read by civilians can allow others to have insight into what the Veteran will often not speak about. For example, in Book 1 I wrote “The Letter” which a veteran can hand to his partner and family as a beginning of a bridge to understanding.
- Writing a book is tough, were there any surprises as you set out on that journey? I was surprised at just how challenging and frustrating it was to write. I did not feel that I had a lot to say. There were years when I would begin and then pull back in frustration. What pushed me to put everything together that I had written into book one, was reading Admiral McRaven’s book “Make your Bed”. The simplicity yet profound truth in the book from someone who had “the Wisdom” gave me the inspiration to put my head down and complete book one. It’s been a humbling and profound experience to create something born out of my life journeys and the incredible Warriors that I have sat with over 16 years who have changed my life as much as I have changed theirs. To create something born solely out of service, not profit, and that has changed and saved lives has been a moving and deeply satisfying experience. I am currently driven to drive what I have written forward into veteran and military communities and organizations.
I was born in Southern Rhodesia (in what is now Zimbabwe) in 1953. After a fairly uneventful schooling in which I focused more on sports than on academics, I went to university in South Africa, where I spent several years training in the field of education.
In 1976 I returned to Rhodesia to comply with national service requirements and was involved in the Rhodesian Bush War. On leaving the war in 1977, I spent a number of years living and working in South Africa before emigrating to Australia, where I lived for several years before settling in England for a brief period of time. After unsuccessfully attempting to mountain bike from Great Britain to Israel in 1984, I flew there instead and spent four years developing the British Council English Language Centre. While in Israel I developed a passion for marathon running, which then extended to ultra marathon running after I returned to South Africa to qualify as a clinical psychologist.
I returned to Australia in 2000, where I have remained ever since. In 2002, given my military experience and psychological qualifications, I was accepted as a contractor with a veteran organization; I still continue with this work today. I also continue to run short distances and am passionate about music. I play the African drum, American Indian flute and the Australian didgeridoo.
In my most recent book “Which Way is your Warrior facing” I dress the complex nature of transitioning to Civilian territory. I have also combined Book One “Which Way is Your Claymore Facing” and set the book up as a free PDF download from my website. I have encapsulated many years of conversations and learning with the extraordinary men and women I have sat with in my practice over the years, from regular to special forces soldiers. I hope that some of what I have written will support you and others around you on your journey towards healing. As I have noted, this is not a researched and academic text, and as such it may very well have its failings and limitations. Instead, this book is based on years of conversations with veterans and their partners and children. It is based on my experiences and challenges as a veteran and a man. It embodies years of exposure to neuroscience principles and brain- and body-based wisdom. I have tried to express this in simple, accessible writing and to draw on military operational terms to explain relevant concepts and lessons. In have also drawn on my own life experience while navigating my way through a variety of life challenges.
Berry Can be contacted at:
My website: https://www.barryzworestine.