By Elizabeth Exline
By Clark’s own admission, his success is a surprise. His childhood was fraught with instability. He spent two and a half years in an orphanage when his parents couldn’t care for him. He spent weekends visiting his mother in mental institutions when she was being treated for paranoid schizophrenia. And, according to Clark, his adverse childhood experiences (ACE) score is “like a 9 out of 10.” (For those unfamiliar with the ACE study, a higher score correlates with more trauma and greater likelihood of health problems in adulthood.)
Clark’s is a sobering history.
Not surprisingly, demons followed him into adulthood. “My entire life strategy was organized around self-hatred,” Clark explains. He struggled with addiction and codependency even as his professional life followed an upward trajectory.
“I was just gobsmacked by all the suicides,” Clark says, “but then I came to find out that, throughout recorded history, warriors coming back from war struggled mightily with moral injuries. … This is nothing new. It’s just that we live in a hyperconnected world. We’re so isolated socially and so connected digitally that we know everything about each other, or at least we report that we do.”
Clark’s concern, and his lifetime of study and service, eventually came together to address veteran suicides when he founded Save A Warrior (SAW) in 2012. Clark is not a medical professional, and SAW is not a medical treatment facility. Rather, it is a destination guided by both timeless wisdom and modern science to achieve one mission: transformation.
SAW’s holistic approach is particularly effective for the people Clark helps. He says they often have unresolved childhood and/or developmental trauma combined with “moral injury” from their adult careers in the armed forces or as first responders. Moral trauma may stem from workplace trauma, combat trauma, military sexual trauma, polytrauma and survivor’s guilt, among other kinds.
The result is a group of people grappling with complex post-traumatic stress, which often presents with chemical and behavioral addiction.
“By and large, I see the same person over and over and over again,” Clark says. Everyone is looking for relief. What Clark offers is the cure.