A Soldier Finds His Heart

Part One Jake Kubetz' Story Before Deployment.

Part Two Jake Kubetz' Story During Deployment

Part Three Jake Kubetz' Story After Deployment

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Part One Jake Kubetz' Story Before Deployment.

Jake Kubetz is one of the lucky ones. He got to receive training from Fyera! before his deployment to Iraq.

Never a "warrior" type, the closest thing to being in a war zone that Jake had experienced was writing his state bar exams or taking things a little too seriously on the squash court. Fresh out of law school, the only way his law firm would allow him to moonlight to make a little extra money was by joining the army reserves. He did that, perceiving it to be a source of extra cash and nothing more. That was a misperception.

When I met Jake, it was because he had received notice that he was about to be deployed to Iraq. The emotional panic, combined with a violent reaction to the vaccines he had been given for Anthrax and other germ warfare, led his desperate aunt and mother to me to provide stress management counseling.

In Jake's words:

"I joined the New York National guard after graduating from law school. I was hopeful that my 8 year tour of duty would all be stateside. My recruiter promised me that JAG lawyers are never deployed unless they volunteer for somewhere exotic and fun like Italy or Germany. Moreover the division that I was assigned, the 42nd Infantry Division, had not been deployed since WW II. Imagine my shock then, when less than six months after joining, I was notified that I was being deployed to Iraq. It was a nightmare. I went into a deep depression, a dark hole that I saw no way out of. The things I used to enjoy were meaningless. I could no longer enjoy my family or friends or girlfriend- I would just sit there counting the minutes until I was to be taken away from them.

My training prior to deployment was held at Fort Drum, where the upstate New York winter weather and the local population matched the name- dol-drum. It was then that the depression really took over. A Boston Red Sox fan my whole life, I was so depressed at Fort Drum that I slept right through their World Series win. I spent my waking moments in deep despair and worried about the Anthrax shots we were being given, worried about getting claustrophobic and freaking out on the military flight to Iraq, worried about not sleeping which would keep me awake, worried about having no way to call my Mom or girlfriend, worried about dying overseas. My whole life was turned upside down. It was then that my aunt turned me on to my HeartMath coach." When we first spoke, Jake's mind and emotions were racing. "Saying goodbye to my family and girlfriend for more than a year, if not forever...Claustrophobia in the airplane on the way to Iraq... Permanent nerve and brain damage from anthrax vaccines or Middle Eastern mystery illnesses... Phobia of more needles and more vaccines..."

Jake's greatest fear was not physical death, but the sight of fellow soldiers coming back from Iraq as emotional basket cases and emotionally empty shells. He was terrified he would lose himself the same way, especially in the environment of the barracks where the collective of soldiers preparing to leave created a cloud of forlorn fear all around him. He had insomnia with worry, which was beginning to affect his performance and create in him the very things he was afraid of. He had no idea that he himself had power over his own emotional world. That's where HeartMath coaching came in.

I asked Jake to remember his last near car accident and he experienced a rush of adrenalin. Then I asked him to feel his arms around his girlfriend and he felt the peace that brought, while nothing had really changed in the room around him. He was thrilled to discover in this exercise that his focus was in fact the source of his emotional experience, not his circumstances. The first thing that we did in our coaching was to help Jake shift his focus through the heart from fear into intention. Translating fear of going insane into an intention to hold his emotional center and be of service to others gave him instant forward motion and power. Just like driving, if you look at what you want to avoid you end up crashing right into it. Look where you want to go. Heart tools helped Jake to do that.

A big breakthrough came in a conversation we had in which I said, "Would you break up with your girlfriend for no reason at all given that she is one of the aspects of your life you most value right now?" "Of course not!"he laughed at me. "Then why would you choose to break up with your own sense of peace and effectiveness to marry fear instead?"

Jake began to get new perceptions of his circumstances, as his focus shifted with Freeze Frame to remaining calm, effective, and of service and support to his family and fellow soldiers. Very social by nature, Jake always dealt with stress by talking it out with his family and his girlfriend. Instant messaging and e-mail were his close companions. In Iraq, none of those things would be available and this he had perceived to be a kind of torture. With coaching, he started to reframe that perception and see that this situation could be an advantage, inviting him to find a deeper resource inside himself to meet his challenges, an inner security that would enhance rather than take away from his outer relationships. Freeze Frame, Cut-Thru, and attitudinal breathing gave him "instant messaging"from his heart to rely on.

Learning about the science of entrainment inspired Jake with the knowledge that he could be a standing wave of coherent impact on the soldiers he was being deployed with, rather than a victim of their contagious chaos. The HeartMath research on how appreciation boosts immune function also gave him a sense of practical security that there could be a link between his emotional management and his ability to stay healthy while overseas, as well as make better decisions to insure his safety and that of his team.

"The HeartMath tools have truly made a difference in my life and the lives around me. Two months ago when I was scheduled to deploy to Iraq, I did not have my two most important assets, my heart and spirit. Thanks to the tools that you have provided me, when I deploy tomorrow, I have both my heart and spirit back and I will be able to help those around me. I would love for the world to know that, thanks to HeartMath, there is at least one person in the army who is radiating appreciation and doing his best to take care of those around him."

As a HeartMath One-on-One Provider, I am so fortunate that I get to spend my days radiating compassion and appreciation as my profession. It is impossible to fall into my own stress or self pity pouts when I watch my clients bravely facing their challenges with the tools I have given them. Working with Jake allowed me to savor a unique flavor of that, as I had come to HeartMath myself due to post traumatic stress from living in a war zone. While the HeartMath tools were the turn-key that helped me to heal, I regretted not having them to prevent my trauma in the first place. How different my experience as an aid worker to street children would have been with the help of the tools! Jake gave me the opportunity to provide him with what I wished I had known, and to come full circle on my own HeartMath journey.

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Part Two Jake Kubetz' Story During Deployment.

"I was so lucky to be exposed to these tools, right at the most stressful time of my life. Right away, the tools gave me a game plan and a strategy to deal with stress. My biggest fear before leaving was that I would lose it while I was away. We all saw guys who came back blotto from the emotional stress. The military was preparing us, training us for convoys and chemical attacks but they were not giving us resources or strategies to deal with the ambush of our emotional stress and the attack of our worry. That’s what HeartMath gave me, and it was the most important preparation of all."

"From the very beginning, my HeartMath coach showed me that I did not have to be a victim of the stress around me, and that my emotions and “freak out” were not the enemy. With practical tools and hard core science, she empowered me to see what post traumatic stress was, and how I could avoid coming back with it. Over and over again before I left, I used the Quick Coherence tool, focusing my attention on the area around my heart and breathing in the feel great feeling I get when I am skiing- the feeling of the cold and windy air on my face- the freedom of flying down the hill. That would help me calm down, and see more clearly how to respond to the situations I was facing. Knowing that I had control over whether I would “lose it” or not lifted my depression, and gave me a sense of power in a situation which I never expected to be in."

Once deployed, I did not have to wait long to rely on that muscle I had developed with my HeartMath coach. I was terrified as we boarded the flight in the middle of the night to take the plane to Iraq. As we boarded the plane, the winter air blew hard against my cheeks, and reminded me of the same feeling I get when I am skiing. All the HeartMath preparation worked. I got on the plane no problem, without a panic attack, sending care to my family and the buddies I was with, instead of focusing on my stress. Once we arrived, there were new situations and new stressors to deal with minute by minute. We arrived in Iraq having been up all night, and had to take another flight into the central zone of the country, and then a helicopter to the base where I was to be interviewed by high ranking officers to see if I was of a caliber to work with them. A lot was at stake. I was exhausted, scared, unshaven, overwhelmed. I dropped into my heart, and started skiing down the slope of the “audition” for superior officers when a mortar attack hit! My first day, and already they were that close, trying to kill us! Here I was, trying to get the position I wanted, and all the officers were watching how I responded. Someone was trying to kill me, and at the same time, I had to put my best foot forward- talk about a stressful job interview! On no sleep and under attack, trying to sell myself at the same time, there was only one place to go: I shifted to my heart. I did Quick Coherence and handled the situation with calm and poise. I got in touch with the knowing that I could handle it, and keep my cool.

After the mortar attack/job interview, I went back to my barrack and I thought, “Oh Boy, I am in way over my head here.” Before I knew it my mind was running away with itself- “If they are this close on the first day, surely they will kill me within the year!” But I did not let the despair take me. I immediately plugged in my HeartMath Freeze Framer, which was a close companion to me the whole time I was away. With the Freeze Framer, I was able to shift back to an inner confidence that I had a plan to deal with the situation, maybe not perfectly, but good enough. Working with the Freeze Framer, I got in touch with the knowing that I could handle this situation, and keep my cool. I cannot imagine how I would have managed that first day without HeartMath. With HeartMath, that first day became an anchor that even now tethers me to an internal confidence in what I am capable of, one that I can fall back on when I need to access inner strength.

I ended up passing the audition and getting the position I wanted. I was working with high ranking officers and helicopter pilots, supporting them to understand the legal rules of engagement -when and how to attack, how to respond in certain situations- what to do. I used HeartMath constantly to deal with that. And I used the tools to boost the morale of the guys around me, too- especially with the power of appreciation. We would all get together, and talk in detail about what we appreciated at home, about whom we would see and intricate details about the favorite meals we would have when we got back. It kept us going.

Stress can take some surprising turns in a war. Right before I was released to come home, my commanding officer, a 30 year old guy with a wife and two kids, was killed by our supply sergeant because the commanding officer had been investigating his black market dealings. It was devastating for a lot of us. I used my HeartMath tools to deal with my grief, and sent heart to his wife and kids as well.

I wish everyone had been as prepared as I was to deal with the stress that we were under. Thanks to HeartMath, I made it back in good spirits; it was the best weapon I had over there, and the only one I brought back with me and continue to use.

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Part Three Jake Kubetz' Story After Deployment.

You would think that after all that, getting home would be easy. But getting home after my 10 month tour of duty had its own stressors. The heart tools helped me to readjust to life in the States and the culture shock that brought in all kinds of ways. Reconnecting with my family and girlfriend, everyone wanted me to make special time for them. It was stressful to make sure everyone could feel my love for them, and at the same time take the time I needed to readjust to being back here. HeartMath helped me communicate my care to them, without getting overwhelmed by their demands and saying things out of overwhelm that I would regret later.

My first day back at court, I used Quick Coherence® and sailed through what felt like foreign and unfamiliar territory. Having practiced HeartMath on a real battlefield, now I use it in the courtroom all the time. Just recently I had to do a deposition with victims and witnesses of an ugly sex crime. As I approached the court room, I could feel the stress creeping in. I did Quick Coherence and it helped me line up with my care for the people, which made it easy. HeartMath helps me focus on what I really need to focus on, bringing perspective to my life that also empowers me to let go of what doesn’t matter.

I live in the Hamptons of Long Island, which I think of sometimes as the epicenter of narcissism. It was definitely a culture shock to come back from ambushes and mortar attacks, and listen to people whose greatest stressors are competing for who has the best landscaping. HeartMath helps me not to judge others for their experience, but also to excuse myself from interactions that I do not want to be a part of. For example, since my return, everyone seems to want to talk to me about the war and give me their unique view, their unique opinion, about the whole thing. From my vantage point, I did what I had to do there to stay in integrity with myself, and all I want now is for all my friends to come home alive- for everyone to come home intact. This is another place that I use the HeartMath tools- in sending heart to the soldiers who are still there. While I was there, my mother and I had a mantra, “I am going over so someone else can come home.” I know that the only reason I got to come home is because some other guy took my place, so I send him heart and appreciation a lot. Unfortunately, not everyone does get to come home. That is one place where HeartMath tools really come in handy. I am able to send heart to the guys who go down, and especially to their families, instead of just sit idly by feeling like I cannot do anything.

The life experiences I’ve had over the last two years, when met with HeartMath tools, have left me with a lot more appreciation for the little things in life. My life is a lot simpler now. I appreciate just getting to go to work, just being with my family and my girlfriend, growing a garden in my backyard with herbs and tomatoes and soy beans, and walking my dog on the beach. The heart empowers me to appreciate these little things- which are really the important things- so much more, and to let go of what just doesn’t matter.

I wish everyone in Iraq had been as prepared as I was to deal with the stress that we were under. Thanks to HeartMath, I made it back in good spirits. HeartMath was the best weapon I had over there, and the only one I brought back with me and continue to use.

Other people deal with extremely stressful situations in their lives. I am not special. I just had the HeartMath game plan for dealing with the stress. And everyone else would be better off if they did too.

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HeartMath is a registered trademark of the Institute of HeartMath. emWave, personal stress reliever and Freeze-Framer are registered trademarks of Quantum Intech, Inc. Quick Coherence is a registered trademark of Doc Childre. Fyera is a trademark of Sheva Carr.