Veterans and the Military
Resources for Military Ministries
Military Chaplains Association (MCA) sends out a Newsgram (email) every Wednesday with updates about various topics relevant to military/VA chaplaincy, including free webinars, job openings, and other interesting info.
Click on the following link to subscribe and receive the email each Wed morn. Click here
Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project
The Welcome Johnny and Jane Home Project helps veterans heal – and reduces the too-common chasms between veterans and nonveterans – by having one nonveteran at a time simply listen to a veteran from any war. Listening is “the art and practice of putting someone else’s speaking, thinking, feeling needs ahead of our own,” wrote Marc Wong in Thank You For Listening.
This is about human connection through the often overlooked but astonishing power of listening. Regardless of the veteran’s politics and the listener’s politics, the sessions are healing.
Listeners are not therapists, and – except for speaking two sentences – they truly do nothing but listen. However, they do so with 100% of their attention and their whole hearts. Harvard University research has shown that veterans describe this as helpful, and the listeners say it is wonderfully transformative for them.
You can become involved by doing one or more sessions, by helping organize others to get involved, or both. The three main steps you need to take are becoming familiar with the purpose and guidelines, finding a place to do the session, and finding a veteran who wants to do a session. For more information about how to get involved with the project, click
Mindful Veterans Tucson
The Mindful Veterans Project was founded in 2008 by Richard Vandemark and Dr. Teri Davis to teach Mindfulness-Based Stress Reduction classes to veterans, active duty, reserves, national guard, and their immediate families. We began with half a dozen veterans per class, with classes offered four times a year. We now teach fifteen classes a year with up to 30 veterans in a class and are getting referrals from the Southern Arizona Veterans Administration Healthcare System, the local Vet Center, Davis Monthan Air Force Base, private providers, our own direct outreach, and word-of-mouth.
The program uses the same format and curriculum as taught by the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care, and Society, which is now part of the University of Massachusetts Medical School. While other mindfulness and mind/body programs have recently become available, the bulk of the research on mindfulness uses the MBSR protocol. By staying with the established model, we endeavor to deliver the same results that have given the program its excellent clinical credibility. Our instructors have completed professional training at the Center for Mindfulness in Medicine, Health Care and Society and are dedicated educators. Mindfulness development is a simple, profound, and potentially life changing adventure; we look forward to being your guides.
10 Things You Should Know about Healthy Family Functioning
One of a series of pdf’s produced by the VA San Diego Healthcare System. For more information, contact the Chaplain Service at 858-642-3496.
The Vital Role That Family Plays In The Healing Process
One area where we can help faith communities (as well as the VA and the Military culture) to more effectively deal with Active Duty service members and Veterans is realizing that what hurts the Veteran hurts his family as well. The From Warrior to Soul Mate program clearly demonstrates that if you help the spouse and the couple, you also help the Veteran. It would be beneficial for communities of faith as well as the VA develop more outreach to spouses of our Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines, and Coast Guardsmen.
A resource to assist in this process:
Recovering from the War: A Guide for All Veterans, Family Members, Friends and Therapists by Patience H. C. Mason, available from Amazon.
Web sites, with insight into the various cultures of the Armed Forces:
Marine Corps: http://www.recruitparents.com/bootcamp/
Coast Guard: http://www.uscg.mil/
Military Chaplains Association
Learn more about MCA by visiting http://www.mca-usa.org.
Army OneSource (AOS) is a Secretary of the Army Initiative to provide comprehensive community support and service delivery for Soldiers and their Families regardless of component or geographic location. Through Community Support Coordinators located throughout the US and Pacific, AOS is raising awareness and generating support among the private sector to effectively serve the unique challenges of Military life, including the growing demand for behavioral health, financial, legal and faith-based services. Utilizing traditional establishments on Military Installations, a Web-based portal, and local community partners, AOS is helping empower Soldiers and their Family Members to be strong, healthy and connected to the best resources wherever they may be. https://www.militaryonesource.mil/
Webinar On Moral Injury
In February, Rita Brock and Herm Keizer, Soul Repair Center Co-Directors, conducted a webinar for the network of the Christian Reformed Church in North America, in which they discussed the definition and causes of moral injury, how it differs from post-traumatic stress disorder and what is involved in the recovery process. They also shared about the importance of congregations and communities in the process of soul repair. This free webinar can still be accessed at http://network.crcna.org/forums/elders/moral-injury-and-soul-repair-webinar.
Care for Returning Veterans
“Care for Returning Veterans” was developed initially as a daylong workshop by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America for use in congregations, synods and other ministry sites. The workshops, led by Chaplain Hatcher and funded by grants from Thrivent Financial for Lutherans, were held in 15 locations across the country from September 2008 through January 2009.
“Care for Returning Veterans” is a first step to assist pastors, caregivers, and any who want to put out the welcome mat for our returning veterans and their families. The workshop includes a multimedia presentation that deals with “the veteran’s experience”: psychological impacts, moral impacts, spiritual impacts, family impacts, and referrals and resources.
The ELCA has expanded on this program in a number of ways, including synod liaisons, free prayer books for military personnel, and scholarship assistance for those seeking to serve as chaplains. Contact the ELCA Office for Federal Chaplaincies for more information: https://www.elca.org/Our-Work/Leadership/Federal-Chaplaincy-Ministries
The “Care for Returning Veterans” DVD is available for no charge. Call toll-free at 800-638-3522 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org to request a copy.
For more information about “Care for Returning Veterans,” contact: Chaplain Ed Hatcher, e-mail: email@example.com
“I wish you could have been present to see the…the tears, bonding and joy, the healing for so many.”
VA Chaplain Dick Millspaugh is talking about the Veterans and loved ones who attend relationship-bonding retreats.
The Department of Veterans Affairs is trying a new path to caring for and healing the nation’s wounded Veterans. Now, in addition to repairing their damaged bodies and minds, VA is going one step further and helping to repair their crumbling intimate relationships.
The retreats are conducted by VA chaplains, social workers, psychologists, and nurses. They are PAIRS-certified instructors, teaching better communication skills, relationship skills, and emotional literacy skills to couples. PAIRS stands for: Practical Application of Intimate Relationship Skills.
“Research shows that 70 percent of our combat Veterans are experiencing marital problems,” said VA Chaplain Ron Craddock. “Twenty percent of them decide to divorce before they even return from theater. This is staggering. The toll on the individual Veteran is staggering. The toll on his family is staggering.”
“They taught us how to listen to each other,” say Michelle, wife of an Army Veteran. “When that happens, it brings you closer together. It feels really, really good.”
Chaplain Millspaugh has dozens of quotes like that.
The VA retreats, called “From Warrior to Soul Mate,” are based on a program created by the nonprofit PAIRS Foundation which, for over a quarter century, has provided educational programs that deliver practical skills to strengthen marriages and families.
The retreats take place in a group setting, with instructors, often over a Friday evening, Saturday and Sunday, or in several class sessions. Instructors are skilled, perceptive, effective facilitators from various disciplines. They have been trained and certified.
The retreats of 30-60 people are conducted with an open invitation for participants to ask questions and offer contributions from their unique life experiences. After introductions, instructors outline ground rules for discussion, and then explore an understanding of how learning and relationships evolve. Soon participants are introduced to practical communication tools and invited to practice those skills with their partners.
An example of one of the sessions at a weekend retreat:
PAIRS Relationship Roadmap— The conversation begins with an exploration of the root causes of pain and pleasure, considering symptoms and signs of happiness and unhappiness and their connection to the deprivation or fulfillment of biologically-based needs, including the human need for bonding.
Here’s an overview of what happens at the retreats and a look at the syllabus.
The vision to move the “From Warrior to Soul Mate” initiative from a local effort to a VA nationwide program has been an outstanding success. Since 2011:
Nine “Train the Trainer” workshops have certified over 400 PAIRS facilitators at VA locations around the country.
Multiple enrichment retreats have been held at 26 different sites to the benefit of hundreds of couples.
Partnerships have been set up with the faith community, the American Red Cross, the Border Patrol and organizations serving Active Duty personnel.
Participants’ evaluations revealed that many Vets and their partners felt that “everyone in the military should be required to attend” such retreats, that the retreats helped with the problems of multiple deployments, PTSD, and other challenges of military service and transition.
“I would like to say thank you for PAIRS couples retreat. It helped my husband and I see that our relationship is still worth fighting for.”
In a lengthy report filled with important statistics, Chaplain Millspaugh reflected, “How can one measure the lives literally saved from suicide, the children not touched by divorce, the costs not incurred by stress borne illnesses or homelessness?”
From Warrior to Soul Mate has been a unique and important program to help so many of America’s Veterans strengthen the health of their families.
Resources for Active Duty or Veterans
God Understands series of booklets contain biblically based portions that address PTSD and the spiritual injuries that many Veterans face upon return from duty. They are available from the American Bible Society, only to Active Duty Personnel and Veterans, and are free. Orders can be made through Annie LoCastro at firstname.lastname@example.org or email@example.com.
Faith communities that have military ministries, and register with ABS, can place orders but are asked to distribute the donated items exclusively to Military Service Members and Veterans in order to honor the intent of the donors. On a limited basis, items are available to the family members of those who serve, and served, in the Armed Services. For instance, they can provide Bibles to wives of husbands who are serving and Children’s Bibles to their children. If a faith community has a Children’s club and a high majority are children of Military members, they can provide Bibles for the club.
Information and resources to help Veterans receive the mental health care they’ve earned. Learn more
The National Resource Directory
The National Resource Directory provides online support and access to over 10,000 services and resources. Please visit: https://nrd.gov/. Check your particular state for any additional benefits that may be offered.
OIC – Operation Iraqi Freedom
OEF – Operation Enduring Freedom
OND – SOperation New Dawn
Raw numbers on Religious Preference in the Military
The Combat Veterans AnswerRing
The AnswerRing is an educational device designed to easily and quickly help Combat Veterans recognize the post-deployment problems they are having, as well as to provide these men and women with immediate suggestions for how to start getting help. The device does not offer therapy, but it does help provide a simple, totally private way for Combat Vets to recognize when therapy may be a solution. The Combat Veterans AnswerRing system allows Vets to dial in one of many common problems; then dial in how this problem makes them feel; next, dial in what their reaction is to this problem; and finally, dial in what they think about doing as a result. This process covers a huge range of possibilities (117,000 different scenarios) in a matter of minutes and is totally private.
Available at Amazon.