Veterans Day is Sunday November 11, 2012. About 2 million U.S. military personnel have been deployed in Iraq and Afghanistan since October 2001. Many are returning to local congregations where they seek help in understanding the meaning of what happened to them in combat. Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) has become a major mental health issue as our veterans return from serving in the war.
With the increased tension in so many parts of the world, Mental Health Ministries has produced a new video clip to help educate your faith community about some of the issues that our service members are dealing with.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is becoming a major health concern as more of our military men and women return from war zones overseas. Studies indicate that as many as one in five service members returning from Iraq or Afghanistan suffers from major depression or combat stress. Too often these men and women remain silent about their struggles. Only about half of those experiencing mental health problems seek treatment.
Post Traumatic Stress Disorder isn’t just limited to those service members in combat roles. Non-combatant jobs in the military, like doctors, nurses, chaplains and other support personnel can also be exposed to traumatic events that put them at risk for developing PTSD.
Toni Lopez is featured in our new video, PTSD: Healing and Hope. Toni served for 25 years in the Navy as a physician’s assistant treating both military and civilian casualties at combat field hospitals in Iraq.
While Post Traumatic Stress Disorder is a reality for many of our returning service members, things are changing. The military is beginning to encourage people to take their symptoms seriously and to seek help. When treated early, the disabling aspects of PTSD can be treated and need not lead to lifelong problems.
NOTE: This video was made possible by the generosity of two retired military nurses, Juanita H. Gordon Lt. Commander (retired) United States Navy Nurse Corps and Evelyn J. Wright Lt. Colonel (retired) United States Air Force Nurse Corps. Mental Health Ministries is blessed to have a professional producer on our Advisory Committee but quality video production is expensive. We receive no financial support from the church and creating new resources for faith communities depends on readers like you. (Sounds like a financial plea from PBS). I have always been uncomfortable asking for funding but, if you find our resources helpful and are able to make a tax-deductible contribution to this ministry, we would be most appreciative.
You can also be kept informed of new resources in the area of spirituality and mental illness by “Liking” us on Facebook.
Veterans Day falls on a Sunday this year that allows Christian communities an opportunity to educate about PTSD.
Mental Health Ministries is offering an interfaith Veterans Day resource that can be used as a bulletin insert or flyer. It can be printed on both sides and cut in half to save paper. This resource is available in English and in Spanish.
We also have an article, How Faith Communities Can Help Veterans and Their Families Readjust by VA Chaplain, David Lundell.
The Presbyterians for Disability Concerns Network (PDC) has a document, “The Wounds of War: The Church as a Healing Community, available at
Leading Ideas, an e-newsletter from www.churchleadership.com features Ministry with Veterans in their May 23, 2012 issue. Full article by Jane Donovan available at http://www.churchleadership.com/leadingideas/issues/2012issues/120523.html
The Iraq War caused emotional, physical, psychiatric, relational, and spiritual challenges to an untold number of military reservists and their families. Reservists’ families, usually living far from military bases with professional staffing, are often among the most affected wounded of the Iraq War. Injured reservists often return home to discover the civilian medical resources are insufficient to help manage the range of combat-related wounds and psychiatric trauma, especially PTSD and traumatic brain injury. This book analyzes the various impacts of war and recommends a soul care approach for chaplains and pastors to use in support of reservists and their families and to guide any persons interested in providing such support.
Challenges Faced by Iraq War Reservists and Their Families: A Soul Care Approach for Chaplains and Pastors (Wipf & Stock Publishers, 2012) is available to be purchased online here.
An individual’s faith and spirituality can be an important part of the healing and recovery process. Our faith communities have the opportunity to be part of the support team for returning veterans and their families. Clergy and members of congregations who are aware of the symptoms of PTSD will be better able to provide the support that leads to help, healing and hope that all our returning service members deserve.
May we keep all persons serving in the military and those who support them both here and abroad in our thoughts and prayers this Veterans Day...and every day.
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119