Frank Selden on the Military, Suicide, and Faith
Date: May 21st, 2017

In a very personal and fascinating interview, we are joined by Frank Selden, an estate & retirement attorney and former member of the Washington State Army National Guard, who talks about his career in the military, his two tours of duty in Iraq, his struggles with suicide, and how his religious faith worked through all of this.  We begin with Mr. Selden’s personal history beginning with his time growing up on a dairy farm.  He then leads us on a tour of his time studying to be a pastor with the Seventh Day Adventists, his undergraduate and law degrees at the University of Washington, and what motivated him to join the National Guard.  It is then we take up the more extensive topic of his two tours of duty during Operation Iraqi Freedom and how his perspective on that conflict changed over time.  Frank also explains what motivated him to write his first book, Finding Faith in the Fury, a collection of emails and thoughts he had written down during his first tour of Iraq.  We discuss how his religion was lived out during that conflict,  including organizing a prayer service for soldiers after the base’s chaplain was killed by an IED while out on a mission.  In contrast to the aphorism that “there are no atheists in foxholes,” he found that many of his fellow soldiers did begin to have significant doubts about their faith based upon what they experienced during this war.  The conversation then turns to how his second tour overseas left him very disillusioned about the US purpose there, as well as how he began to see changes within his own faith with organized religion becoming less important.  This discussion of changes he experienced during and after the second tour of duty then leads us to the topic of suicide and the motivations for Frank’s second book, The Suicide Solution.  Frank talks openly about the struggles he had with injuries and depression, as well as how this cost him a marriage and many friendships.  He walks us through several of his suicide attempts and what happened on the last attempt, in a cemetery, that led him away from this path and towards a renewed life.  The stories here are deeply personal, fascinating, and honest.  Beyond the personal stories, Mr. Selden’s recent book on suicide led him down a research path to look at how religious organizations and movements dealt with suicide and the mentally ill throughout history.  He talks about a number of reform movements such as the Quakers, Dorothy Dix, and John Harvey Kellogg, as well as what occurred with changes to federal policy in the 1980s.  We finish with Frank’s thoughts on the role of spirituality in all of this.  Recorded: May 4, 2017.


Frank Selden Law, PS and a brief bio.

Finding Faith in the Fury: One Soldier’s Faith Challenging Journey Through Operation Iraqi Freedom, by Frank Selden.

The Suicide Solution: Understanding and Dealing with Suicide from Inside the Mind of Someone Who’s Been There, by Frank Selden.


Ron Hassner on Religion on the Battlefield.

Ron Hassner on Religion in the Military.

Robert Kinnune on Military Chaplains.

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