Military Veterans and Near-Death Experiences

By Dr. Diane Corcoran, RN, PhD, MA, U.S. Army Colonel (ret.)
President of the International Association for Near-Death Studies (
Diane has been active in the IANDS organization for over 40 years.




I first learned about Near-Death experiences (NDEs) during my tour of Vietnam. I was right out of nursing school and new to the Army. I was working nights in our recovery room, and a young soldier asked if he could talk with me. He said, “I want to tell you something, but you have to promise me you will believe me.” I, of course, said I would. He started to talk about a most unusual spiritual experience he had when he was wounded, and he began to cry. Clearly, his account was intensely emotional and personal. At the time, 1969, I had no idea what his experience was or what to say to him. I was extremely moved by his description of what we now know to be a classic NDE. I told him I thought it was a gift, and I hoped he could positively integrate it into his life.

I have often thought of him because that night was the beginning of my journey teaching and studying NDEs for the past fifty years. In the last ten years, I have focused on veterans and the military and the young men and women who have had NDEs. Most of them have had very poor support or a total lack of it after their experiences. Often, when they have tried to tell people close to them or care providers about their NDEs, they have been ignored, told not to talk about it, or put on medications inappropriately.

Over the last forty years, the NDE has become known to most people and has been explored in numerous movies, videos, TV shows and books. They either tell individuals’ stories, provide scientific discussion or look at the experience from different cultural perspectives. There are now thousands of resources for people to learn about NDEs. When I began talking about this in the Army, there were no resources.

Importantly, physicians have almost never been educated about NDEs. This lack of information has changed some over the years with the publication of Raymond Moody’s book, Life after Life, in 1975, and several physicians describing their own NDEs. However, most doctors still do not know very much about NDEs and do not know how to support these patients. Sadly, it would be very easy to help if doctors only had more accurate information.

This is a tragic gap of care, especially for our veterans since they are dealing with multiple issues, such as physical trauma, moral injury, and PTSD. If we had early intervention and support, service members would be able to help themselves better with their other issues and we might even be able to decrease the suicide rate. Not having information about their NDE makes veterans feel like they may be crazy, and they are totally frustrated with their lack of care. This frustration then contributes to the high number of veteran suicides every day. We have confirmed this connection with interviews with veterans.

Over the past several years, I have been trying to bring light to this issue through different service organizations, the VA, active duty military and individual veterans. Unfortunately, the VA does not appear to know anything about this gap in care nor are they interested in getting information to help their service members.

One of the ways I have addressed this issue is to highlight veterans’ NDEs at our annual IANDS conference and to build a web page,, to give veterans a source of information and someone who will listen to them. I have also invited disabled vets who have had NDEs to our annual conferences to tell their stories. Many of them come on a scholarship for registration fees. It has been amazing to watch a veteran tell the story of his NDE after waiting thirty or more years to speak about it in a safe and supportive space.

This year will be no exception; we have invited several speakers who can talk to the issue of veterans’ NDEs. We have a number of veterans who are coming to share their stories, and I invite everyone who is interested in NDEs, especially family members of NDErs, to come join us. It is like coming home to family for people who have not had an opportunity to learn about or discuss their NDE.

Sadly, this gap of care also applies to children who have had NDEs and who have never had anyone who believed them nor gave them guidance and support. These children are different and need someone who understands NDEs and their issues and who can be their advocates.

We welcome all people to the conference who are looking for a safe place to discuss their experiences or who are simply interested in NDEs and in the scientific investigation of the phenomenon. This year our conference will be held in the Philadelphia suburbs in King of Prussia, PA on August 29, 2019 – September 1, 2019. You can get information about speakers and conference registration at this website:

I invite you to join me at this excellent conference that has changed many lives. I have attended over thirty-five times, and I still learn something new every year. Find me and say hello — I am always interested in speaking with attendees.  By the way, you might even want to consider combining the conference with a vacation to the Philadelphia area since there are so many wonderful things to do and see there.

See you soon in the City of Brotherly Love!

Vice-President of IANDS Ret Army COL Dr. Corcoran discusses Vet NDEs, IANDS Conference, mystical experience, spiritual and out-of-body experiences. Please visit,

Recent research shows that combat veterans have a much higher incidence of NDEs than the general public, yet their care providers know virtually nothing about such events. Trailer for IANDS DVD, Understanding Veterans’ Near-Death Experiences produced by Roberta Moore of Roberta Moore Productions and Blue Marble Films, LLC. Please visit,

David Hufford, Ph.D., University Professor Emeritus, Penn State College of Medicine, has completed research about Combat Veterans’ Spiritually Transformative Experiences (STEs). Here he talks about his findings about Veterans’ After Death Communications (ADCs). Please visit,

For more information about the IANDS 2019 Conference, click here.



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