in: Advice, Character, Podcast

• Last updated: September 28, 2021

Podcast #151: The Way of the Stoic Warrior

We’ve touched on Stoic philosophy a few times on the site. It’s certainly an appealing philosophy in uncertain and constantly changing times. Instead of letting circumstances control your emotions, Stoicism requires that you control your emotions — regardless of the circumstances. Soldiers in combat face perhaps the most extreme example of uncertain and fluid environments. A quiet morning driving down a road can suddenly turn into chaos as a vehicle hits an IED. Brain damage, a lost limb, and a fallen comrade are often the result. While we’ve made great strides in helping our soldiers with cutting edge training in resilience, could the ancient philosophy of Stoicism perhaps offer an additional tool in helping them navigate trials and setbacks? My guest on the podcast explored this question in her book Stoic WarriorsNancy Sherman is a professor of philosophy at Georgetown University and has served as the distinguished chair of ethics at the U.S. Naval Academy. In today’s podcast we discuss Stoicism and the military mind as well as insights from her latest book Afterwar about the moral wounds soldiers face.

Show Highlights

  • A brief rundown of Stoic philosophy
  • How a Vietnam POW used Stoicism to make it through seven yeas of imprisonment
  • How Stoicism can help soldiers with physical injuries or PTSD
  • The downsides of Stoicism
  • The role of anger in the warrior ethos throughout Western history and how the Stoics motivated themselves to fight when uncontrolled anger was looked down upon
  • Stoicism’s approach to grieving
  • What are “moral wounds?”
  • And much more!

Stoic warriors, book covery by nancy sherman.
If you’re looking for an introduction to Stoicism, I highly recommend Stoic WarriorsIt offers one of the best synopses of Stoic philosophy I’ve come across. What’s more, Sherman’s practical applications to military life were enlightening. Even if you’re not in the service, you’ll likely gleam some ideas on how Stoicism can help you navigate life’s troubled waters, as well as insights into where Stoicism falls short in helping you live a good life.


Brett McKay: Brett McKay here, welcoming you to another edition of The Art of Manliness podcast. We’ve talked about stoicism on this site. It’s a philosophy born in Ancient Greece, really embraced by the Ancient Romans, particularly high class Romans. Seneca, even Emperors like Marcus Aurelius, who was one of the most famous stoic philosophers with his meditations.

My guest today wrote a book talking about how the philosophy of stoicism can help soldiers, men and women, who are fighting in our wars, face the challenges that come with that profession. Her name is Nancy Sherman. She is a Professor of Philosophy at Georgetown University. She has served as the Chairwoman of Ethics at the U.S. Naval Academy. In her book Stoic Warriors she takes a look at how different facets of stoic philosophy can help soldiers navigate things like losing a partner, losing a comrade, losing an arm, dealing with PTSD. We talked some about that.

We also discuss her most recent book After War, Healing the Moral Wounds of our Soldiers. We discuss how not only war can traumatize someone mentally, emotionally and physically, but also morally and what soldiers can do to heal those moral wounds, what the military is doing to do that, what civilians can do to help the men and women who are fighting for them. A really fascinating discussion. I think you’re going to get a lot out of it. Even if you’re not a soldier, the Stoic principals that we talk about can definitely help your own life. Without further ado, Nancy Sherman, Stoic Warriors and After War. Nancy Sherman, welcome to the show.

Nancy Sherman: My pleasure.

Brett McKay: You’ve written several books. We’re going to talk about a few of them today. One of your books that I really enjoyed was Stoic Warriors. You look at stoic philosophy and how it can inform the military, or how the military prepares soldiers for war, but then also deal with the aftermath of war. Before we get into the details about Stoicisms connection to the military, I would love for you to give us just a brief summary of what Stoicism is. I think you did such a great job of it in Stoic Warriors.

Nancy Sherman: Well Stoicism is an ancient philosophy that the Ancient Greeks after Aristotle and the Romans embraced. It’s in the tradition of ancient philosophy of being concerned about the good life and flourishing. They take issue, especially the Romans like Seneca and Marcus Aurelius and Epictetus, they take issue with the idea that happiness should include exposure to luck, good and bad. They develop their philosophy of self sufficiency and self reliance, essentially, well before Emerson. The idea is that your virtue alone should be sufficient for happiness. It’s actually a Socratic position from way back.

That’s the idea, that cultivating your strengths, and intellectual and endurance are a matter of enormous self discipline and that you can be in a certain way, invincible, too strong, but protected from the outside world infringing on your projects.

Brett McKay: It’s basically not letting the world, or the chaos, the things that are in flux, disrupt you emotionally, mentally, it’s not even an issue?

Nancy Sherman: That’s right. The emotional part of not being disrupted is critical. They think that the emotions are disturbances, almost pathologies, if you like. The idea some ways that emotions, the normal, ordinary ones of fear and of even love and anger, are ways that you are attached to the world and want the objects of those emotions, so they leave you open to disappointment and to the inability to avert or go for the objects of the emotions, in the case of fear, adequately avert the risk. In the case of desire, sort of get what you’re going for. It’s very attachment free in a way. Not Buddhist, it’s not about quite meditation and getting rid of the self, the self is very important, but it should be your reason has dominion in this world.

Brett McKay: I guess they’d say a lot of the emotions are based on perception. You can change how you view and invent. It’s not the thing itself, like your child dying. That’s not the thing that is actually disturbing, it’s just your perception, how you approach it is what causes the disturbance within you.

Nancy Sherman: That’s right. They have this view that emotions are ascents to impressions. That’s the way they put it. And ascents to ways that you’re being perceived upon, let’s say, as you’re saying. You can say yes or no to those ascents. You might be affected by it just sort of subliminally almost. There’s a great example they give: You’re on a ship and you’re supposed to be a great sage doctor, but yet you start turning green. So someone turns to you and says, “I notice you profess to be a sage, but you’re getting very seasick and scared.” The response that a Stoic will allow, “Well yes, but that’s just a pre-emotion or a proto-emotion, it’s kind of a physiological response and it’s momentary.” The true Stoic won’t indulge it. I can sort of say no to it without it taking hold and without it really fully coming to fruition.

That in a sense tracks where we are in terms of our understanding of psychology. Kahneman, for example, the great Noble prize winning psychologist, has the notion, and many do, that we have two tracks of sensory emotions. Those that are sort of fast tracked and go without much brain circuitry and very immediately response, and those that are more mediated. The Stoics had that notion early on and they think that maybe some are a kind of arousal that you can’t control, but you won’t be impugned for having them and in the long term you could maybe control those even better than you do right now.

Brett McKay: It also seemed they were very, sort of foretold cognitive behavioral therapy.

Nancy Sherman: To some degree, yeah.

Brett McKay: To some degree.

Nancy Sherman: That’s right. They view the emotions as not just impressions but the part of your brain that’s doing it in this sense … well put it differently, you are just reason. They are monolithic in that regard, so you should be able to control emotions in so far as they are a sense for the sense that are governed by reason and so even your perceptual capacity should be under the control of reason. A lot of talking, and a lot of asaution and persuasion, should be able to change your state, what you eventually ascent, or do not give ascent to.

Brett McKay: I think there’s this popular conception of Stoics as not having any emotion whatsoever, or not enjoying life. To be a Stoic sage you have to go off into a cave and cloister yourself off. A lot of the famous Stoic thinkers, like Marcus Aurelius, he was an Emperor and lived a pretty good life. Seneca, he was the tutor to Nero and he enjoyed things, he enjoyed life, probably wore nice clothes, ate good food. How does Stoicism allow for us to enjoy the good things in life? Is this where the whole things in different come into play?

Nancy Sherman: Popular Stoicism, first of all, is the kind of notion, suck it up and truck on. If you’re in the military or you profess a kind of popular Stoic mentality, you are just sort of sucking it up and moving on. The Stoics were somewhat mixed about this. The Roman Stoics were, in embracing Stoicism, embracing a very widespread popular view out there. As you say, it was the Court’s philosophy. Seneca was the tutor to Nero and Marcus Aurelius was the Emperor who wrote the Meditations which he himself, at night after, during the day a huge golden statue of himself would be wheeled out and then wheeled back. He doesn’t look like too much of an ascetic when he’s leading massive legions of troops and has gold statues on his behalf.

That said, he is very much trying to distance himself from those things with which he doesn’t have full control. So Epictetus, who was once a slave but then goes on to teach philosophy in the time of Nero we’ll say, “Of those things that you cannot control, say that they’re indifferent to.” Indifference doesn’t mean, as you were sort of saying before, it doesn’t mean you don’t feel anything. It means that you’re not attached or desirous fully of the objects of your interests and that you can have them or not have them. In that regard they’re indifferent, not you don’t have an attitude of indifference. They’re not constitutive of happiness. That’s what critical. They do not add one iota to your happiness if you have things that you desire through the emotions, nor do they detract if you get the things that you don’t want. Having them is better than not having them, but they don’t add to the things that called happiness, flourishing, thriving.

Brett McKay: You can have lots of money for a moment, but if you lose it then next day it’s like, “Nah, it’s no big deal.”

Nancy Sherman: Yeah. You kind of develop this notion that if my kid dies and I lose the things to which I am really attached, then I have to realize that they really weren’t a part of true, genuine, happiness. There’s going to be cognidissidence for most of us, because you don’t get to be a sage, ever, for most of us. You’ll still hold on to worldly goods. By that I don’t just mean material goods, I mean the goods that many of us hold on to, love of our children whom we prize, spouses and partners whom we adore, and whose loss would be to rip something precious out of our souls and psyches.

They still think that if you got to the highest point of perfection you would somehow realize and embrace the idea that you’re goodness, if you had developed virtue, was sufficient for your flourishing.

Brett McKay: Let’s get to this connection to the military. You are a professor of ethics, how did you get interested in seeing how Stoicism could inform military life?

Nancy Sherman: I was at the Naval Academy in the mid-90s in the wake of a cheating scandal. I was asked to design a brigade wide ethics course, which I had taught ethics for years, so that wasn’t a novel task you might say. On the other hand I had to talk to military folks and not just midshipmen, but officers. I did this stuff I always do, Aristotle, Plato and some contemporary readings. When I got to Stoicism early in the course, everyone resonated with it. In part they resonated with it because one of their own, that is Admiral Stockdale, Jim Stockdale, had embraced Stoicism wholeheartedly. He was a graduate student way back at Stanford and kind of wandered into the Philosophy department and someone handed him a text of Epictetus, the little handbook. He sort of said, “What do I need that for? A martini-drinking aviator who plays golf, what do we need that for?” So he put it aside.

Then he found himself on the Ticonderoga on his way to Saigon and he started reading it in the ward room and then one day, he’s an aviator, he was shot down and the lessons of Epictetus were certainly scribed in the soul and he said, “I’m Jim Stockdale, leaving the world of technology and entering the world of Epictetus.” He imbibed it for himself. It was a salvation to be able to say no to the things that he wasn’t control of. He ended up being in prison as a POW for about 7-1/2 years or so, 2-1/2 in solitary with leg irons. He found this absolutely empowering. It helped him as the head of the chain of command, which there is in a military prison where you’re a POW. So being able to say no, I control the show and not you, Cat Eye, who was the name of one of his torturer/prison guards was critical to his survival.

Long story made short, the military knew of his story and even if they didn’t, if they were to read Epictetus they would find it’s kind of good medicine for those who are in situations of deprivation and stress.

Brett McKay: This is where the, I guess it’s called the Stockdale Paradox, comes from. I think he said that the way he survived was that he had to be both hopeless but also have hope at the same time. It’s kind of weird. Going on to this, in Stoic Warriors, you look at how Stoicism can inform different aspects of a soldiers life throughout their career. We start off with talking about the body. For a soldier his body is important, because it’s trained to be fit, to be able to do hard work, to fight. When you’re a soldier there’s a good chance that you might lose a limb or become disfigured and that affects them. Sometimes I think that affects the soldier more than losing the limb, the emotional trauma that comes from being disfigured from an IED or something like that.

The Stoics would say, any of the hardcore Stoics would say, “Well, you know, it’s your body, it’s something that’s external. You shouldn’t be disturbed by that.” Is there a Stoic approach to our body that takes into consideration the role that our body plays in our sense of self?

Nancy Sherman: I’m not sure they fully do. The most exaggerated case is Epictetus who thinks of your body as just one more encumbrance, sort of like a little donkey that is you and then you have to carry off all these things that it needs. You’ve got to carry the bucket of water. You’ve got to carry your food. All of the encumbrances. It’s an unpleasant image and it’s just being burdened down. You’re supposed to be able to distance yourself, as you say, from the physical injuries that you might suffer by realizing that the body is somehow not you, which is reason.

That’s a hard view to have, given in fact that you couldn’t survive without a brain and the brain is one of the body parts that may not be figuratively disfigured, but certainly you mentioned IEDs. IEDs can cause an enormous rattling and traumatic brain injury, TBI, which leads to other kinds of difficulties in being in the world, having memory, having good cognitive functioning and the like.

Is there a more palatable version of Stoicism? Stoicism is kind of hard to swallow in its full form so I would probably say, “Not really.” I’ve always advocated to the degree that I find myself attracted to Stoicism, a kind of modern Stoicism where there are blessings and curses. I guess Seneca is the person who is always feeling the tension. He says, “I’m the doctor.” They call themselves doctors, who heal the pathology of emotional passion. But I’m also the patient, meaning I’m sick too, I can’t fully get rid of my attachment to my body. I can’t fully get rid of my grief that I lost a dear friend and that I find myself sinking in sorrow. I’m struggling too. He’s always acknowledging the way in which the externals touch him and then he’s trying to limit their impact a bit. I guess that’s one way to approach Stoicism. Moderately. With some recognition that if you are trying to minimize the affect of these devastating accidents on you, that you go forth with some humility about just how much you can control in the end.

Brett McKay: That’s one of the problems I’ve had with Stoicism is that you try to be Stoic, you make that your ideal, I’m not just going to let this bother me at all, whether you lose a limb or something happens, even like the daily trifles of life that just annoy you. The problem with it is you set that as your ideal, and if you don’t achieve it then you get angry at yourself because you feel bad about yourself that you didn’t achieve that ideal and it sort of spirals downward.

Nancy Sherman: That’s right. I think perfectionism can be a curse. To the degree that the Stoics set very, very perfectionist ideals, with it can come the psyche that brings produces a harsh super ego and anger and self anger in the form of guilt or in the form of shame, and certainly in the form of disappointment. I’m not sure it’s a wonderfully winning strategy.

The other thing is you have to be able to acknowledge loss in order to go forward, to readjust to new body images, to be able to do the hard work that will come with physical therapy and reconstitution of yourself if you’ve lost … some of those I write about in Afterwar have a full half of their body. They’ve lost the whole bottom of their bodies and they can’t go on as they did before. There has to be an adjustment to loss that does involve a grieving process if you’re to go forward. I’m not sure the Stoics are the best philosophers to help us with that.

Brett McKay: Let’s talk a little bit about anger. It seems throughout Western history anger has played a big role in the ethos of the warrior. If you go back to Homer, that’s what the Iliad was all about, how anger fueled this ten-year war. It seems like a military uses anger to an extent, like boot camp you have the stereotype of the yelling drill sergeant from full metal jacket and the things like that. Stoics would say no, anger isn’t one of those emotions you shouldn’t have because it’s a disturbance and yada yada. How did the Stoic philosophers approach war if for centuries anger was often used as a motivator for battle and for war?

Nancy Sherman: That’s a great question. Anger whets the appetite for war and action, it’s often said. What do they replace it with? Just to be clear, anger is this disturbance pathology Seneca rails on about. It makes you livid and it causes enormous havoc inside you and in the world. Part of their railing against it is because Seneca and others are advising kings who use it a lot and who go to war needlessly or throw their servants in pools of sharks and the like when they break the crystal or do something minor. There’s anger management that’s required. That’s part of their interest in being able to get rid of anger.

Anger comes in waves. Some people think it is a good thing and other people think it isn’t. Anger also is of a different sort. It’s not clear that you need anger in order to motivate or incite troops to battle. What you might need is, in the case of a drill sergeant, a performance of anger, just like the orator performs certain emotions, actors perform certain emotions and they instill fear in their listeners. That would get a young person in boot camp to move and do better if you incite the wrath of your drill sergeant.

It could also be that the inductee gets a real dose of anger that moves them to battle. The problem, the Stoics will say, is that you can’t shut if off easily, so you have rampages and revenge killings and padithas or Nelis or the like. The Stoics think that you can actually fight on principle. You might have a sense of what is right and wrong, and a sense of justice and that will be able to carry you forth in action. I think it’s a real life question as to how useful anger is. We wouldn’t want to get rid of, many would argue, resentment, indignation, moral protest, moral outcry. If you don’t have those emotional reactions to horrific world scenes of refugees or innocent victims being killed, how do you morally engage?

Others would say well, “Have that first predal emotion of it.” Maybe the Stoics will give you that. Have it so it kind of rouses you, but then be able to put it into, or contain it, and use your reason to motivate you forward after that. Use it as a transitional pivot and move on after that. That may be a way to get the best of both worlds. Both light the match, but then contain it.

Brett McKay: Yeah. Speaking of that idea of the fear of anger is that once you get it going it’s hard to turn off, particularly in warriors. I think you mentioned in your book how often times when men return from war, increases in spousal abuse happen.

Nancy Sherman: Yes. It’s a complicated story. To just say, “Well there’s anger management problems” is too narrow. There’s all sort of reactions to war that have to do with grief, have to do with the difficulty of civilian reintegration. Resentment to civilians who don’t understand. Confusion about, or anger about, the injustice of war, whether it’s the conduct or the cause or too many collateral killings that were authorized, or not enough, because then you lose your troops. The moral mess of war is endless. You’re asking thinking soldiers to sort it through. It’s got to bubble up in frustration as well as a certain kind of difficulty in adjusting to the tempo of life afterwards.

To just say it’s anger and that you can’t control the anger when you come home, I think understates the moral complexity of trying to adjust the emotions of war to the emotions of civilian life.

Brett McKay: I want to get more into the moral complexities of Afterwar, because your most recent book is called Afterwar. Before you mentioned grieving. That’s a problem that soldiers have. The Stoic approach, there’s a story, I forgot who gave it, but the king who forced a person to eat their own child and the appropriate Stoic response was “thank you.” To not be upset about it, just do it and just calmly eat it and then go away. That to me doesn’t seem a very healthy approach. I guess the question would be, is there a way we can look at, use moderate Stoicism, to help soldiers and civilians alike deal with the loss of loved ones?

Nancy Sherman: That was Cambius who was asked to do that, I think. It’s so attractive to be Stoic in some ways. I’m one of those persons who is attracted to it. The world throws up tons of things that we can’t control. The vicissitudes of fortune are around us all the time. The limits of our being able to influence our children exactly the way we want to, or our spouses exactly the way we want to, or our students, or the political process or the Army or the Navy or the Corps of a country’s future. We’re just, we’re small. We all live in systems. The systems collectively exert enormous amount of pressure on us and yet we are asked to hold on to our individual consciences and we can’t always be whistle blowers, yet we have to do good in a world that’s extremely flawed with pressures that we can’t manage always.

Why not try to be Stoic about some of these things? That doesn’t mean indifferent, but it does mean know the limits of your control and try to expand the circle of your control as widely as you can without being a control freak. No one likes a control freak who is managing other people’s lives, or if you’re too self managing, then you yourself are letting out the experience of too many things that you can’t manage, that you need to feel.

I think experimenting with the borders of control is the best way to be a mindful Stoic. You might say at the end of the day you end up and Aristotelian.

Brett McKay: That’s really great. You mentioned in the book how some soldiers right now, the way they deal with grief is maybe they might not cry in front of their troop, but when they’re in their tent with their close buddy, that’s when they’ll let it out, have that moment of grief. I guess they’re mindful of it.

Nancy Sherman: Yes. There’s always a conformative element in being a leader, especially a leader with all the modeling that comes with wearing a uniform and projection to very young troops who may be less seasoned in battle than you are. Some more seasoned officers don’t always face, and often don’t face the same stresses that the enlisted who deploy over and over again do. You’ve got to be there for them and you try to show toughness, but if we look at the suicide rates recently, we know that the modeling doesn’t always hold in your most private moments and you can’t closet off parts of yourself and hope that you will forever not see them. They come back to haunt you.

Brett McKay: In your most recent book Afterwar, you make the case that in a lot of ways we’ve made clinical the emotional, mental and moral wounds that our veterans come home with. First off, let’s talk about the moral wounds or moral trauma. That’s something you don’t hear very often when we talk about soldiers coming home from war. You hear about PTSD, traumatic brain injuries, lost limbs, but you never hear about moral trauma. How would you describe, what is moral trauma?

Nancy Sherman: Moral trauma or moral injury is a sense of, a psychological sense, that you may have done wrong in a serious way or been wronged in a serious way or fallen from ideals that you subscribe to in a very serious way and that you are hurting, there is anguish as a result. It can be accompanied by reactions or enormous guilt, in the case of transgression, of if you’ve been transgressed, resentment. In the case of falling short, annihilating shame. It’s a psychological injury, but PTSD, or PTS without the D for disorder, which is sometimes stigmatizing, has clinically at least been understood as a fear response. You’re responding to a sense of being helpless to a threat, a life threat. The treatment has been a kind of deconditioning of that fear and that life threat, because you’re now not in a condition of threat but yet you’re reliving the stimulus as if you were.

We need to recognize that all sorts of emotions that cause anguish and enormous pain come home from war or come home from other kinds of assaults and infringements and that they are not all fear based. Moral injury is a way to talk about that. Like PTSD, it can be invisible, meaning you’re not coming home from the battle field or from a trailer in Nevada if you’re a remote pilot, with a visible loss, missing something or blinded or without hearing, but you are coming home with a psychology injury.

Brett McKay: How do we, I honestly don’t know if treat is the right word, it again sounds clinical, but we know what we can do for physical injuries. Psychological injuries you can go to counseling, but what do you do for moral injuries?

Nancy Sherman: You still can see clinicians, mental health professionals. I don’t mean to de-pathologize all of the suffering that comes home from war by no means, and when we’re very short on mental health clinicians in the services in the VA, and people need to be able to reach out without stigma. We also have to realize that some of what we do in this country isn’t enough and we could do more. We say, “Thank you for your service” as a quick way of separating the war from the warrior, but it’s also kind of pat and a bit superficial and doesn’t always lead to a deeper conversation that builds bridges between military and civilian.

We are afraid to ask what people’s war experiences were or what people’s experiences when they didn’t deploy, but are sitting doing war related work on bases at home, because we think we might be prying or it’s private or we don’t really know what we’re talking about and they’re soldiers and they wear uniforms and we don’t, we live in different worlds. We’re not really so willing to engage in the hard conversation. Was it an unjust war and we shouldn’t have had it? The awful feelings of futility that many soldiers feel as they think about what’s going on with ISIS in areas they thought they secured in Tal Afar and Mosul and Fallujah.

There’s a moral mess that comes home if you’ve got a thinking brain on you. Some of it you can’t process because there’s a lot of cognidistance, some of it you don’t want to process and you just want to medicate with booze or medicate by driving fast on bases or medicate by being angry and being prone to strike out and have altercations.

Some of it requires actual thinking about the circumstances of war and what you saw and what you did, in a safe place with a person you trust. The opposite of moral injury is moral recovery, moral repair. Some of those emotions like guilt can be relieved a bit by empathy and self empathy. Some of them changed by a sense of people hoping in you and you hoping in yourself. Trust, the sense of betrayal that your leadership betrayed you or your country betrayed you, by restoring bonds of trust somehow. That’s civilian work as much as clinical work.

Brett McKay: Yeah-

Nancy Sherman: The long answer, sorry.

Brett McKay: No. That’s great. I love that. I’m curious if the military is doing anything proactively. I know they’re working hard to get more clinicians for mental health and things like that, but are they doing anything else to help soldiers prepare for after war and dealing with the moral complexities of it?

Nancy Sherman: There are both researchers and clinicians and lots of outreach groups that are beginning to recognize that moral injury has a slightly different face than clinically understood PTSD. The Bible of clinicians who are reporting for insurance purposes and for diagnosis, which is called the DSM Diagnostic and Statistic Manual, are now up to Edition 5, has slightly changed the definition of PTSD so that it includes some factors, or experiences, mood experiences I believe they call it, of guilt and shame and whatnot, recognizing it’s not just responses to fear. That’s one thing that in that Bible out there of diagnosis there is a wider understanding of trauma and post traumatic stress trauma.

In addition, there are folks that are doing active research on this on a clinical basis through the VA and trying to set up treatment protocols that would involve telling your story, but not in a sense of trying to decondition the fear of it. Trying to develop compassion for yourself with a buddy that you left behind whose life you just couldn’t save, or the child who was caught in a collateral incident, would she hold you and condemn you in the very way that you condemn yourself. That kind of thing.

The conversation is expanding in clinical circles I think, as well as in outreach groups that deal with families who are at the core of helping a returning service member, in retreats and the like, and I go around talking at various conferences. There are many conferences. It’s a slowly growing awareness of the complexity of the issues.

Brett McKay: Very good. Nancy, before we go, where can people learn more about your work?

Nancy Sherman: Afterwar is a kind of character driven, service member driven book. I would recommend that. It’s available at all places that sell books including Amazon. It’s extremely readable. When I say character driven, it tells the stories of service members who have come home, many I’ve known for years, who are my students or that I’ve know. That’s one place.

I have a website that has lots of information about the kind of work I do and the kinds of interests I have. Those are two places.

Brett McKay: All right. Fantastic. Nancy Sherman, thank you so much for your time. It’s been a pleasure.

Nancy Sherman: Thank you so much Brett. It’s a pleasure talking. Thanks.

Brett McKay: My guest today was Nancy Sherman, she’s the author of the book Stoic Warriors and Afterwar. You can find those both on Go check them out. That wraps up another edition of the Art of Manliness podcast. For more manly tips and advice, make sure to check out the Art of Manliness website at If you enjoy this show, again I’d really appreciate if you’d give us a review on iTunes or Stitcher, really help us out getting the word out about the show and also giving us feedback on the ways we can improve it. I really appreciate your support. Until next time this is Brett McKay telling you to stay manly.

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