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Soba Soldier (Loyal Soldier)

Sep 23, 2021

Bart Ross | Recovery Services Manager

The term “loyal soldier” came from a World War II epilogue. Hundreds of soldiers from the Japanese Imperial Army and Navy survived shipwrecks or plane crashes in the Pacific. They found themselves stranded, alone or in small groups, on uninhabited or sparsely settled islands. Some of them managed to endure extreme conditions and severe social-cultural isolation. Several years after the end of the war, they were discovered. Their loyalty to the cause was what kept them alive all those years.

They refused to believe the war was over.

This loyalty is not far off from how many of us felt about our addiction. Most of us believed that although we were at war with our addiction, we needed to stay in it to survive life. Many of us hung onto the delusion that alcohol and drugs kept us alive. We couldn’t imagine a life without substances.

If you or a loved one need help, call our admissions team today at 561-841-1033.

First, when the soldiers arrived home, the community welcomed them with love. This warm reception was of extreme importance in helping them make the transition back into society. We do the same thing in our 12-Step programs. The greeters standing at the door are so essential to us. The love they express by showing us where the coffee is and introducing us to other members helps make us feel welcomed. The sponsor who accepts us into their life allows us to see there is hope.

“Some of us had already walked far over the Bridge of Reason toward the desired shore of faith. The outlines and the promise of the New Land had brought luster to tired eyes and fresh courage to flagging spirits. Friendly hands had stretched out in welcome.” (Big Book, Page 53)

The second thing the community did for the soldiers was to thank them for their courage. For us, it takes us a tremendous amount of courage and bravery to ask for help. To be ready and willing to learn how to live a new, sober way of life, it takes courage to surrender.

Relapse is not a part of recovery; it’s part of the disease.

If we relapse, it takes courage to come back, admit we weren’t ready to admit complete defeat, and surrender fully to a Higher Power. It’s a good feeling when people thank us for showing up and tell us that they’re glad we’re here. Recognizing courage is essential.

“All men of faith have courage. They trust their God. (Big Book, Page 68)

The third thing the community did was tell the soldiers, repeatedly with compassion, that the war was over. Alcoholics and addicts need to hear this. It’s so important to hear from those who have recovered that their war is over. They don’t have to live like that anymore; they can cease fighting. Newcomers need to know that they are not alone and that there is a solution.

“And we have ceased fighting anything or anyone — even alcohol.” (Big Book, Page 84)

Last and most important, the community helped the soldiers find new roles for their talents. Our worst experiences became our greatest assets. We learned that what we had gone through in our wars is now our first tool for helping others. We practice a new way of life and use our experience, strength, and hope for helping others.

This is now the job of a Sober (Soba) Soldier: To get back on the firing line and carry the message.

“You will be bound to them with new and wonderful ties, for you will escape disaster together and you will commence shoulder to shoulder your common journey. Then you will know what it means to give of yourself that others may survive and rediscover life.” (Big Book, Page 153)

I enjoy many awesome things as part of the Hanley team at the Hanley Center. Building relationships with patients and watching the change come over them is amazing. They walk out the doors of the Hanley Center with a new outlook and way of life.

They know that the war is over for themselves, and they are ready to do the work of a Soba Soldier.

To witness their faith, commitment, and devotion to recovery is incredible. I’m grateful to all the alumni who continue to share their stories and journeys with me. It makes my day when I open my email and read another cool thing that has happened in the life of an Hanley alum. Keep sending your stories to me at

Hanley Center is a well-known care provider offering a range of treatment programs targeting the recovery from substance use, mental health issues, and beyond. Our primary mission is to provide a clear path to a life of healing and restoration. We offer renowned clinical care and have the compassion and professional expertise to guide you toward lasting recovery.

For information on our programs, call us today: 561-841-1033.

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