Turning struggle into success after trauma

Posted On: Tuesday, 20 October 2020

Everyone experiences some form of struggle during their lifetime, but can you change that struggle into strength? Ken Falke and Josh Goldberg have dedicated their lives to helping veterans, the military, and military families overcome depression, anxiety, and more specifically, PTSD. Falke and Goldberg wrote Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma, focusing on those who have been deeply impacted by war or other traumatic events and helping them conquer posttraumatic growth. This book provides different approaches for making peace with your past, embracing the present, and planning for a positive future. 

Coming together for a cause

Falke and Goldberg teamed up to speak honestly about the struggles and needs of men and women who have faced combat, war, or other traumatic experiences. Falke is the founder of Boulder Crest, an organization focused on the teachings of posttraumatic growth and improving the lives of our nation’s military, veterans, first responders, and their families. Goldberg is executive director of the Boulder Crest Institute for Posttraumatic Growth. The two have spent years working with veterans and medical experts to find productive ways for veterans, or anyone to move past their struggles and onto the healing process and posttraumatic growth. 

Falke, a 21-year combat veteran of the U.S. Navy Explosive Ordnance Disposal (EOD)  community and retired master chief petty officer, uses his knowledge and experience of turning struggle into success as a way to relate to Struggle Well readers. After devoting his life to veterans and the military, Goldberg joined the Boulder Crest team and led the organization to develop the nation’s first comprehensive, non-clinical curriculum for posttraumatic growth. 

Live the book through resources mentioned in Struggle Well

Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma has a website with more information about the authors, along with highly positive reviews from top military leaders and world-class psychologists. As a way to help their readers interact and experience the book, Falke and Goldberg share two downloadable documents on their website, www.strugglewell.com

One fillable document is mentioned in chapter three: Look Back to Move Forward, and it concentrates on childhood training and experiences. It begins with Where It Began, focusing on your grandparents and your parents, and their “traumas” and/or “gifts.” Then it breaks down you and your trauma and gifts. There are many different forms of trauma listed: physical, emotional, and sexual abuse, neglect, depression, poverty, racism, and divorce, etc. The gifts mentioned were humor, compassion, fighter, and brave, etc. Download the document while you’re reading chapter three to help understand the book even more. 

The second interactive document is from chapter five: Creating and Living Your New Story, and it focuses on the importance of building and living a new, positive future. It begins with formatting The Goal by considering the SMART: Specific, Measurable, Attainable, Realistic, Time-Dated, goal setting criteria. It has you fill out the date you start your goal and the deadline to achieve it. The document then has you break down the foundational principles to support the goal, benefits from achieving it, resources needed to accomplish, possible obstacles, and possible solutions. Try filling this document out while you are comprehending chapter five in Struggle Well.  

After reading Struggle Welllisten to the podcast

If you finish the book and you are still hooked, you’re in luck because there’s an ongoing podcast from the authors, focusing on the same topics from the book. The podcast features many veterans’ stories about channeling their struggles into strength. Falke and Goldberg also discuss posttraumatic growth with medical professionals and how combat veterans and anyone can learn to succeed after their traumatic experience. A podcast from October 2019 highlights a Navy EOD wife, Lindsey Stacy, and her life as a caregiver and military wife. If you or someone you love needs a little extra help, the Struggle Well podcast is on Apple Podcasts. 

You can purchase Struggle Well: Thriving in the Aftermath of Trauma on Amazon.com in paperback, Kindle, and Audiobook form. 


This article was originally published in the August 2020 Auxiliary magazine. 

ALA Mission

In the spirit of Service, Not Self, the mission of the American Legion Auxiliary is to support The American Legion and to honor the sacrifice of those who serve by enhancing the lives of our veterans, military, and their families, both at home and abroad. For God and Country, we advocate for veterans, educate our citizens, mentor youth, and promote patriotism, good citizenship, peace and security.