Veterans Day is Tuesday, November 11, 2014. Many people confuse Memorial Day and Veterans Day. Memorial Day is a day for remembering and honoring military personnel who died in the service of their country, particularly those who died in battle or as a result of wounds sustained in battle. While those who died are also remembered, Veterans Day is the day set aside to thank and honor ALL those who served honorably in the military – in wartime or peacetime. In fact, Veterans Day is largely intended to thank LIVING veterans for their service.
Besides acknowledging and showing appreciation for the contributions of our veterans, we also need to be proactive in insuring that our veterans receive the support and care they have earned as they make the transition to civilian life. Sadly many veterans continue to be affected by the trauma they experienced known as Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD).
1 in 5 veterans of the Iraq and Afghanistan wars are diagnosed with PTSD. The social and economic costs of PTSD are immense. Veterans now account for 20 percent of suicides in the U.S., with the youngest (24 and under) taking their lives at four times the rate for other veteran age groups. Our faith communities can help by providing education about PTSD and suicide prevention as well as finding ways to provide support to service members and their families.
Mental Health Ministries has produced an interfaith Veterans Day resource that can be used as a bulletin insert or flyer. Some of the suggestions of what faith communities can do to support veterans and their families include:
Too often men and women remain silent about their emotional 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 video, PTSD: Healing and Hope. Toni served for 25 years in the Navy as a physician’s assistant, including 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 encouraging 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.
Benita Koeman is a military spouse who experienced a void of support during a military deployment. She started The Operation We Are Here website to make a difference for other military families. Their mission is to:
For a comprehensive selection of resources and devotionals go to
The Operation We Are Here website also offers Christmas resources for the military community including a list of links to organizations to connect your church with adopting a military family for Christmas, air travel assistance for the holidays, support for deployed military during the holidays and financial assistance.
If your spouse or someone you know has been deployed recently, the stress of this situation will resonate with you. Jocelyn Green speaks directly to the wives of deployed seamen, marines, airmen, and soldiers, through the experiences of their spouses. She has written two books that are a collection of devotions written from a Christian perspective that address the challenges wives face when their husbands are away. Faith Deployed is available on Amazon.
The website, Faith Deployed, offers a large selection of resources for military wives, children of deployed soldiers, veteran resources and information on PTSD.
We encourage you to “Like” us on our Facebook page to get timely updates on resources, articles, and ideas of what other people are doing. We also encourage your comments and contributions.
A Prayer for Our Veterans
Eternal and Loving God, we are so thankful for the men and women that you have raised up to serve our country with honor, dignity and commitment in the past and present, in war time and times of peace, in combat or on the home front. We remember them today as they have served with honor, dignity, courage and commitment.
We ask you to bless them in the sacrifices they have made to give of themselves for the cause of freedom. We ask you to surround them and their families with your love and protection as many continue to serve on the front lines.
In their times of loneliness and despair, we ask you to be their unseen hand that will lift them up to see a brighter day. We remember those who have lost their lives in service, and we applaud their selfless acts as well as their families that released them to serve. As you have blessed this nation as the land of the free and the home of the brave, we extend this blessing to every branch of our military, and ask that your continued strength and power be with us in the days ahead.
We thank you that their service has not been in vain, and we salute them with honor today and every day. Amen.
(The Waking Giant blog)
Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119