Those that are committed to a mission and ministry to veterans should prayerfully contemplate the experiences of the veteran returning from war. The stakes are high and the costs of war are very personal. Therefore, attentive and non-judgmental listening will help the warrior in his or her spiritual struggle. For a veteran, telling even a small snippet of one’s story and feeling heard and accepted may be the first important step toward healing.
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Members of the church can be a great resource. Walking with veterans and their families on healing journeys is means of justice, and what faith communities are about in ministry. As the church lives the liturgy throughout the church year they experience anew the powerful reassurance of God’s grace and presence in the lives of that faith community. As the church lives out these words, they learn to trust others, to bind the wounds.
Within the last decade, there have been several experts who have addressed the realities of moral injury; Jonathan Shay, Brett Litz, Rita Nakashima Brock, and Gabriella Lettini. The concept is currently used in literature on the mental health of military veterans who have witnessed or perpetrated a moral transgression in combat. Each of these scholars and behavior health professionals have researched the effects of moral injury from a psychological, cultural, and spiritual perspective.
Chaplain Kibben unfolds for the reader the impact of faith as lived out with authenticity in an act of service that becomes the sacred, that invites a person to trust, and thereby fosters the beginning of a journey toward healing.
Beyond the debate of the film’s accuracy, form, or politics, the value of the film opens the viewer to the human story of war and its aftermath. Zachary Moons’s post American Sniper and the War Story We Cannot Tell on Huffington Post highlights the complex challenges returning veterans and their families experience. Equally as important is our responsibility to understand the human experience of war and the people who return from fighting them.
“Sad souls and broken hearts find rays of hope in grief. Anger and pain can yield to the power of love and forgiveness.” Rather than allowing violence and war to have control over our communities, congregations can bring their unique strengths and capacities for care toward healing and restoration.
The Susquehanna E-Tour brings resources to your District for the empowerment of your leadership. 2015 will bring the largest group of workshops to date in a variety of areas of mission and ministry. Chaplain David E. Smith from the JustPeace Soul Care Initiative will be delivering a workshop entitled “Caring for Our Returned and Returning Veterans and Their Loved Ones”.
JustPeace’s newly launched Soul Care Initiative is gaining steam in Pennsylvania. In addition to being interviewed by the Susquehanna Conference of the UMC’s “Susquehanna Xpress”, our intern Amanda Morningstar and I conducted two workshops throughout the state.
Brittany Spriggle Howell of the The Susquehanna Xpress, a video communications tool from Connectional Ministries of the Susquehanna Conference, recently sat down with Chaplain David Smith to discuss the JustPeace Soul Care Initiative. Watch the video.
Col. Chaplain David Smith is presenting a session at the 2014 PA Veterans Forum entitled “Soul Care; A Journey Toward the Healing of the Wounded Soul” on Tuesday, November 18th.