Mental Health Ministries

MHM e-Spotlight - Veterans Day 2014


Veterans Day - Ministry with Veterans

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.

Bulletin Insert – Veterans Day: A Time to Remember and Support

Veteran's Day Bulletin InsertMental 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:

  • Publically acknowledge members of the congregation who have served or are serving in the military through prayers, listing names in the service bulletin and posting photos of those currently serving. 
  • Send letters, care packages and other tokens of support to persons who are deployed.
  • Support families dealing with the transition of persons leaving for service and returning from service.  Faith communities can reach out through phone calls, providing meals, providing child care and, most importantly, providing a listening ear.
  • Know the signs of distress and reach out when an individual or family is struggling.  Children are especially sensitive to signs of stress in the home.
  • Provide non-judgmental pastoral care and opportunities for veterans to share their story and talk about how their combat experience has affected their faith.

Veteran’s Day: A Time to Remember and Support is available to be downloaded in English and in Spanish.

Video – PTSD: Healing and Hope from Mental Health Ministries

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 LopezToni 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.

Resources for Veterans Day
  • At the NAMI Veterans and Military Resource Center you will find resources, support, and partnerships dedicated to mental health policy, education initiatives and advocacy priorities that impact active duty military personnel, veterans with mental illness and the family members of these individuals. 
    Veterans & Military Resource Center
  • Welcome Them Home, Help Them HealWheat Ridge Ministries provided a seed grant that helped produce the book, Welcome Them Home—Help Them Heal:  Pastoral Care and Ministry with Service Members Returning from War. This book was written to equip the growing number of pastors, parish nurses, counselors and caregivers in faith communities across the country to support and advocate for veterans and their loved ones. Spiritual recovery after war best takes place in the context of caring, supportive communities of faith that share the news of God’s good grace and reconciliation.  I have a copy of this book and recommend it. Their website is www.welcomethemhomebook.com.
Website – Operation We Are Here: Resources for the Military Community and Military Supporters

Operation We Are HereBenita 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:

  • To create an awareness of the challenges of the military community
  • To offer practical suggestions to churches, communities and individuals on how to support and encourage the military community
  • To provide a comprehensive list of resources for the military community and its supporters

For a comprehensive selection of resources and devotionals go to

http://www.operationwearehere.com/militarydevotionals.html

Organizations – Operation We Are Here

Operation We Are Here Christmas ResourcesThe 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.

Website and Book – Faith Deployed

Faith Deployed BookIf 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.

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FacebookWe 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.

Veterans Day Prayer

Veterans Day Prayer by The Walking Giant BlogA 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)

Susan

Rev. Susan Gregg-Schroeder
Coordinator of Mental Health Ministries
6707 Monte Verde Dr.
San Diego, CA 92119
www.MentalHealthMinistries.net