In honor of Veterans Day, we have a very special guest blog post from one of our Nomiku community members, Tom. Tom is a veteran, and has been using cooking and food as a means of coping with life after combat. Here’s his story below. Thank you for letting us share your story, Tom, and thank you for your service!
My name is Tom. I am a Naval Special Warfare Veteran. I am also disabled. I served the US Navy as a SWCC (Special Warfare Combatant Craft Crewman). We drove high-speed boats to get the Navy SEALs in and out of hot zones.
I’ve done some things and seen some things that a man shouldn’t have to experience.
Don’t get me wrong; it was all within the rules of war. But as someone said a long time ago, war is hell.
Now because of my back injury, I am in chronic pain 24/7, 365. Diagnosed with PTSD (Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder), I am also in spiritual and emotional pain. This PTSD tends to make us feel guilty for things we “had” to do. I can no longer work and rely on the use of a wheelchair. I often felt useless and non-productive. Consequently, I spent a lot of my time reading, watching TV – anything to get my mind off of my pain in my back and in my mind.
I used to be married and my wife loved to cook (she wasn’t the best, but she tried haha). She would usually do all of the cooking and I’d man the barbecue. It was great teamwork.
Thinking about those times, I started cooking again. And I found that it truly helped me, especially when I would cook for others. When I cook and break bread with my friends, I feel useful. I feel needed. By feeding others and by being in the kitchen, I can focus on making delicious food instead of my pain.
Tom cooked these filets and green beans sous vide. As Tom explained, he had “what they call a ‘crisis’ with PTSD. I needed a quick great meal to help settle me down. At first I thought I was out of luck because the steaks were frozen solid. But I remembered the Nomiku. I was very, very surprised by the taste. Tasted fresh and crisp. It truly helped (along with prayer) calm me down and get my day back on track.”
Cooking, for me, helps keep my mind away from the physical and mental pain I have to deal with everyday, no matter how temporary the relief is. Even my shrink thinks it’s a great form of therapy.
And after seeing the Nomiku in a Facebook post, I’ve found that it’s made my life so much easier and my food so much better. Putting a roast in the Nomiku bath until it’s a perfect medium rare, then bringing it out to the grill for those always important sear marks (I’m not just a barbecue-r anymore!), I can have a perfectly cooked meal to serve my friends—which they absolutely love. Seriously. I cook a lot now for my PTSD support group, and they honestly think I am blessed from God with the gift of cooking.
As I continue my cooking therapy, as you might call it, I’m looking forward to experimenting more with new recipes and feeding my friends more and more tasty meals. I am very grateful to have found this outlet, and be able to give back to my friends at the same time.
If you, like me, suffer from PTSD, try going into your kitchen. It might help more than you think.
Tom Clark EN1 (SWCC) ret.
Photo courtesy of Tom Clark. Written by Tom Clark, edited for clarity with permission