The Missouri National Guard in April of this year began implementing a new program called Partners in Care. This program allows Churches to partner with National Guard and Air National Guard Chaplains to provide support for the troops.
“Col. Gary Gilmore, Joint Force chaplain with the Missouri National Guard, recognizes that an untapped area of strength and support are local churches.
“If I have a relationship, chaplain to pastor, and I’m aware of what a church offers in that community, I’m also likely aware of what’s going on in a Soldier’s life in that community,” said Gilmore. “If I can make them aware of each other and then they voluntarily choose to unite a need and a resource, that’s a win-win for everybody.”
In return, Gilmore plans to work with local pastors in a collegial relationship and provide free specialized training enabling them to better work with the military and gain a deeper knowledge of what military men and women endure.”
My church, Noble Hill Baptist Church, has decided to join this program to connect with soldiers and their families in our area. We want to be here to serve those who serve us. They serve us in our times of great need: war, floods, tornadoes. So we want to be available to them in their times of need whether those needs be physical, emotional, or spiritual. We have several military families in our church, and want to see more. We, at WHOLE Army believe that by reaching the military we can reach the world for Christ, and we want to spread that vision to our home church and beyond. God has entrusted us with His Gospel. It is spread only through the efforts of His people, so we need not let opportunities pass us by. If you are part of a local church in Missouri please contact Chaplain Gilmore and become a Partner in Care.
This is something my brother Pete Walker wrote, and it is used in some Navy/Marine Corps publication. I am posting it here with his permission, to help our hurting warriors and their families.
It has troubled me lately to see stories about veteran suicide rates. What is even more disturbing is that like all the other issues relating to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan instead of working together to find a solution to the problem everybody in Washington is seeking to use the statistics for political gain.
The thing about statistics is that they are essentially pieces of data collected by a sometimes semi-scientific method and then categorized for interpretation. That’s what people do with data, they interpret it. And the thing about interpretation is that it can be construed to mean whatever the interpreter wants it to mean, but there is only ever one truth.
Another thing that really angers me is the politicians (no longer statesmen) who say they are the ones qualified to speak or judge on a certain topic because they have military and/or combat service. I’m sorry, that does not make any person qualified to lead or judge any one on any subject. The one thing that they could lean on their military experience for in the political system that they have thrust themselves into is the one thing that has made the American military a superior force for two centuries, team work and equal sacrifice. But nobody seems to be willing to work together unless it is by tricking or coercing the other party into voting their way.
Now to the original subject, veteran suicide, it seems to be on the rise. I have no doubt that the only reason this particular issue has come to the forefront in recent days is because some politician’s office got wind of rising suicide rates among combat veterans and saw in that an opportunity to raise poll numbers by jumping on the alarmist bandwagon. But for all the veterans who have decided to end it this way, and their families who may angrily or sorrowfully grieve, and the many who may be thinking of taking the one thing they think they still have control of, I want to say that I remember.
I remember coming home from the combat zone. I remember being in the hospital in Landshtul Germany and being able to tell who all the combat veterans were. Not just because of their sand colored uniforms, and the smell of no showers for days, or weeks, but because when a door slam echoed down the hallway we all ducked or hit the floors instinctively and the ones in wheel chairs and stretchers would sometimes cry because they could not. I remember sitting in the wounded warrior barracks and hearing a song on the radio about loosing brothers in the field, and bawling my eyes out with my room mate because that was the one place we could cry and not be ashamed. I remember coming home and not being able to walk outside my own house in my own yard without first checking out all the windows, and looking behind every crevice, and fork in every tree, behind every fence, and potential hide-away in sight before I could walk out the door. I remember sitting with my wife in the dark of night and trying to explain to her how everyday I look at my hands and remember the things that I have done with them, and then wonder how I can ever hold my children with those same hands. I remember. War hurts, and memories hurt, and trying to adjust back to what normal used to be hurts. I remember.
I would like to say to the families of returning veterans to be patient, and let nature take its course. Of course you wonder why your boy is different, that is natural. He is different, that is also natural, and when he is ready he will tell you what he did, and saw, and heard, and smelled. Love them for who they are now, not who they were when they left. Most veterans are coming home after a year of being away in a foreign country. Everything changes with time, and he just spent a year having a completely different set of experiences than everyone else he knows. You changed as well, but over the last year you did not change in the same way that he did. Cut yourselves some slack, this is natural. Don’t give up on each other. You got to know each other once before. This time it wont’ take as long, but you have to get to know each other all over again.
To the veterans, be patient with yourselves. You went to a foreign country and fought a deadly enemy to protect people who neither care about you, nor understand the danger that you faced everyday on their behalf. I have been home for over four years and I still do not understand the ignorance the general population has in regards to danger. They don’t get it, they never will as long as people like you and I are around to protect them. Even then they still wouldn’t get it and most of them would die. You can’t teach them by being angry, and you can’t teach them by being nice. They don’t want to know about the evil in the world. That’s why they hire people like us to face it for them. They are ignorant, and in their ignorance is ignorant bliss. Get past this because it is not your problem.
Talk to somebody. And make sure that it is somebody who loves you. Talk to your wife, or husband, they won’t ever understand fully, but they really do want to understand so help them try. Talk to your parents, they love you. Talk to your pastor, or religious leader, many of them are combat veterans, and they love and care for you. When you can’t talk, write letters. I am terrible at talking to people because I am deep thinker, and my mind works way faster than my mouth. But when I write I can say what I really feel. Let people read those letters so that they know what you are thinking.
Finally, talk to God. I have given much thought to this. I have struggled with it. I have given my life to Christ, and His Word and His Spirit guide my thoughts and my actions. It isn’t a hocus pocus kind of thing where I said a prayer and everything got better. It’s a day by day thing, where when my mind wanders to something it shouldn’t and I start to get angry or depressed about how I did a certain thing He reminds me that I gave that to Him, and so I give it up daily. And everyday, I know I get closer to Him and the day will come when He wipes all tears from my eyes, and there is no more darkness, sickness, or pain. I know because He says so, and while I do not know everything about Him, what I do know leads me to believe that His Word is trustworthy. And there is no where else I can go that gives me the peace that believing in Him gives me.
Suicide can be stopped. Veteran suicide is dishonorable and selfish and goes against everything we are taught as warriors. At the same time I know that it is sometimes impossible to pick yourself up. There are blows that are so severe we cannot fix them on our own, and there is no doctor that can fix them either. This is not only physically, but emotionally and spiritually as well. There is a hurt that can only be soothed by the Prince of Peace. My prayer is that if you are hurting when you read this, that you will find Him. His promise still stands, “those who seek me diligently will find me,” and then, “I will give them rest.”
Todays dictionary.com word of the day is mumbo jumbo. The definition is senseless or pretentious language, usually designed to obscure an issue, confuse a listener, or the like. It reminded me of an issue in Sunday school a couple weeks ago. The teacher of the class that day used a few large, slightly obscure words, that left some people wondering what he was talking about. He was not intentionally confusing anyone, he was just using language that was familiar to him in his peer group (he’s a graduate school student).My point in mentioning this is, sometimes we as Christians use language familiar to us in our peer group, that no one else understands. For example Dave Ramsey talks about the use of the old English word steward, that most people outside of church never use, but those in church know is code for “We’re starting a building project”. When Dave tells that joke in Financial Peace University, you can tell the people who grew up in church because they all laugh. Those who didn’t grow up in church look around and wonder what’s so funny. The language that we use seems like mumbo jumbo to the outside world. Just like a civilian walking on to a military base and trying to eavesdrop on a conversation would walk away with no clue as to what has been said, many people walk away from our churches not having a clue what has been talked about. Rarely is that done on purpose, it’s just habit. I’m not saying that we need to use the type of language that is most common, sometimes that is vulgar or profane. What I am saying is that we need to use language that is understandable.