Posts tagged " faith community "

Soul Care Conversation (Caregiver)

August 24th, 2017 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

(The purpose of Soul Care Conversation is to create a place to generate dialogue, initiate thoughtful consideration for the challenges our veterans face each day, share ideas of veteran and family well-being and healing, and spark within all of us a call to be engaged with the veteran and caregiver community. Click here to visit the forum and join the conversation!)

In previous conversations we have explored the challenges of the veteran returning from war. We determined that the effects of trauma and moral injury on the warrior’s bodies, minds, and spirits, are profound. We understand that the transition from warrior to civilian can be overwhelming. These may appear as insurmountable obstacles.

Beyond the most telling hardships on our returning warriors, the transition home from combat effects the family as well. All of these factors are compounded when the returning veteran has been wounded, whether physically, psychologically, or spiritually.

BACKGROUND

Because of a trauma experience, many of our returning warriors have lingering fear. Some struggle with a moral injury resulting in guilt or shame from ethical and moral challenges that they faced. Some a soul wound so deep that they feel broken and hopeless. Often, it is a family member or friend who becomes the caregiver.

In our conversation this month, we will explore the numerous challenges the caregiver faces. We will discuss in some detail the following:

  • reintegration
  • injury
  • support

Reintegration – is characterized by the veteran’s returning to his or her daily life as experienced prior to deployment. Despite much literature suggesting that the reintegration stage lasts several months, this stage can actually persist for months to years depending on the individual veteran, his or her family, and the fuller context of the service member’s life.

Reintegration can be a turbulent time for the family, as members must re-form into a functioning team. The re-deployment “honeymoon” may last 4-9 months, and then relationship stress and negative family functions usually reach a peak. One of the greatest challenges for the family appears to be renegotiating family roles as the veteran encounters the often-unexpected difficulty of fitting into a home routine that has likely changed a great deal since his or her departure.

Typically, over the course of one or more deployments, the at-home parent and children assume new responsibilities. While the veteran was deployed the spouse took on many of the roles the warrior accomplished prior, such as paying bills, disciplining the children, repairing the car.  Now that the veteran has returned, the veteran may desire to take back the responsibilities. This can cause conflict.

Also, the family may have to find a “new normal.” Neither the returning warrior, spouse, nor children may be the same persons they were prior to the deployment. Because of the experience of war for the veteran and separation for the family members, each person may exhibit subtle changes at first, but drastic personality changes surface such as fear, loneliness, isolation, anger, pain, and depression follow.

Understanding the nature and patterns for reintegration challenges enables the veteran and family to have more control over their lives. This knowledge will enhance a good reintegration and also allow for the veteran and family to engage conflict well.

The challenges of reintegration are drastically compounded when the warrior has been wounded.

Injury – The Post 9/11 wars will have long term affects for decades due to the young age of our troopers. Of the over 50,000 serious wounds, a large percentage are brain or spinal injuries. The total excludes psychological injuries. U.S. veterans with serious mental health problems – 30% of U.S. troops develop serious mental health problems within 3 to 4 months of returning home.

The one aspect that these statistics do not reflect, those who experienced the wounding of the soul. Department of Defense nor the Veterans Administration have collected data on those warriors who have experienced spiritual or soul wounds.

Support – An additional statistic that we must address, the caregiver. There are 5.5 million caregivers who are family members or friends of a wounded veteran, 1.1 million from the Post 9/11 wars alone. These persons provide 24/7, 365 days a year care to their loved one. (Statistic from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation report.)

The duties of a caregiver to the veteran might include:

  • managing medications
  • helping to bath or dress
  • taking care of household chores, making meals, paying bills
  • providing transportation to medical appointments
  • being the emotional support system for the veteran

The strain associated with caring for a wounded veteran may result in stress for the caregiver. To provide for a wounded warrior proves to be both a huge physical and mental strain. In fact, the mental strain can be so demanding that the caregiver her/himself risk at becoming a casualty as well; tension, anxiety, worry, pressure, depression, and fatigue. Another factor often overlooked, in order for the family member to provide 24/7 care, the caregiver must stop working outside the home thus contributing to possibly an already difficult financial situation. This also effects the caregiver’s self-esteem and well-being.

The physical, financial and emotional consequences for the family caregiver can be overwhelming. Where can the caregiver find support?

IMPLICTIONS FOR THE FAITH COMMUNITY

Who provides them care? Who do caregivers turn to for support? The Dole Foundation discovered through a survey that over 90% of the caregivers turn to the faith community for support. (Statistic from the Elizabeth Dole Foundation.)

If a caregiver knocks on your door, how will you respond? In order for individuals to respond effectively, there are several key preliminary components to consider:

  • knowledge of military culture and military family dynamics
  • appreciate the challenges of transition from not only military to civilian life, but from the battlefield to the bedroom, and from the unit to community
  • understand the context of war
  • know what resources are available in your community for the veteran and family

Each of these components become the building blocks for the faith community to begin to build relationships with the veteran and caregiver. Now that you have been approached for your support and you have initiated developing a relationship, you can take the next step, determine the need.

It is important to realize that caregivers can be overwhelmed with their situation. Most often they will ask for:

  • someone to take their wounded veteran to medical appointments, or watch their children while they take them to the appointment
  • a person to do home or car repairs
  • mow the grass or shovel snow

However, there are two other services the caregiver will rarely seek help for:

  • respite
  • support

Respite – Most likely the caregiver will not even consider respite. The caregiver’s attention is on their loved one, not themselves. However, respite will provide long term benefits. Without respite, caregivers may face serious health and social risks as a result of stress. Respite provides the much needed temporary break from the exhausting challenges faced by the caregiver.

The faith community can prove supportive in this need. Train volunteers to provide care to wounded veterans, with the following skills:

  • give medications
  • listen without judgement
  • knowledge of CPR

Support – Caregivers do not take the time to reach out to others because they think they cannot find the time to be away from their loved one. However, social support becomes a critical component in caregiver care. Peer support groups have provided caregivers a great source of comfort knowing that they are not alone, that others share similar situations, and that there are resources available.

The faith community can extend hospitality by opening their facilities for a caregiver support group. However, the faith community must extend their hospitality beyond opening the facility. They could also consider the following:

  • provide a trained volunteer to be with the wounded veteran while the caregiver is at group, or offer a wounded veteran group meeting at the same time and location
  • offer child care during group meetings
  • if a pastoral counselor is on staff, have that person available as a resource

The faith community can truly be a place of grace where the wounded veteran and caregiver feel safe to share their feelings.

The faith community does not need to do this alone. Begin networking with resources on line such as https://milvetcaregivernetwork.org/, http://militaryoneclick.com/15-organizations-godsends-military-caregivers/, and https://www.elizabethdolefoundation.org/.

We have learned the wounds of war are contagious as they affect the warriors, their families, the caregiver, and the communities. Thank you for joining this important conversation as we explored the support and services our veterans and their families need in order not just to survive, but thrive in ways meaningful to them.

 

 

 

Soul Care Conversation (Spiritual Model for Healing from Moral Injury; First Step – Acknowledgement)

February 9th, 2017 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

(The purpose of Soul Care Conversation is to create a place to generate dialogue, initiate thoughtful consideration for the challenges our veterans face each day, share ideas of veteran and family well-being and healing, and spark within all of us a call to be engaged with the veteran and caregiver community. Click here to visit the forum and join the conversation!)

Last month we discussed a study by Duke University on a successful therapy for military sufferers of Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). The study reviewed an article published in the JAMA Psychiatry suggesting that cognitive processing therapy (CPT) significantly reduced PTSD symptoms. (“Duke study shows therapy effective for military sufferers of PTSD,” News and Observer, written by Gavin Stone, 28 November 2016)

As we discussed, CPT is a method of treatment that involves evaluating the thoughts and beliefs associated with a patient’s traumatic experience, which for many in the military involves blaming themselves for events in combat that are out of their control. We then did a deep dive into guilt and shame as it pertains to Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD). Guilt and shame is also a symptom for warriors experiencing moral injury.

In our conversation we discussed that people experience guilt and shame for various reasons. Many find it difficult to move past guilt or shame, which can lead to chronic psychological issues such as depression and anxiety. However, guilt and shame have more than psychological implications. From the perspective of a chaplain or a pastoral counselor, guilt and shame as it is associated with trauma and trauma care must also consider a spiritual dimension.

For this reason, we discussed a spiritual therapeutic model which includes the following components:

  1. Acknowledge – take an honest assessment of thoughts and behavior, then acknowledge guilt and shame, and anger
  2. Forgiveness – choose forgiveness of self in the trauma experience as well as others who may have had responsibility
  3. Self-acceptance – renounce self lies like; I’m no good, I’m nothing, I’m worthless, I can’t be loved, and accept the reality of being a child of God
  4. Renewal – begin to retrain mind
  5. Amends – restoration involves a direct way to repair what has been damaged or broken (for the veteran, maybe difficult to go back to place of injury, however, there are other ways; contribute to refugee or orphan fund in the area of the war, volunteer at a shelter or soup kitchen, etc)
  6. Accountability – be in a community that offers accountability and support

We will discuss in some detail each of these components. For this week’s conversation, let us discuss the first component, acknowledge.

BACKGROUND  

“Acknowledge” is defined; to admit to be real or true, recognized the existence, truth, or fact of.  A synonym is confession.  Confession is a written or oral statement acknowledging guilt. Confession has deep roots in traditional religious rites in both Judaism and Christianity.

As we examine the religious act of confession, we are reminded that from the opening pages in the first book of the Torah, the Hebrew scripture tells us something has gone wrong; loving relationships have been broken, creation has been marred, humanity has been separated from God because of human sin. All of creation is in need for God’s healing. What are we to do? The first step toward restoration with God is to acknowledge our sin. Confession becomes a vital part of our fellowship with God as it provides an opportunity to be reconciled within the community.

THE PRACTICE OF CONFESSION

When we sin we alienate ourselves from God, community and self. Sin blocks us from becoming all that we are created to be. We acknowledge our sin through confession. Confession enables us to be reconciled to;

  • God
  • community
  • self

Confession. The word stirs up memories. Whatever the memory, most likely it is not pleasant. For many, confession connotes pain from failure and being weighed down with guilt. However, confession offers us healing through a face to face encounter with the grace, love, and forgiveness of God.

As humans, no matter if through faith we are committed to God, we still have difficulty turning away from sin. We recognize our weakness and constant need for turning back to God and be reconciled. We do this through confession of our sin.

Soul Care Conversation (Faith Community Response, Seek a Restorative Path – Restorative Justice)

August 18th, 2016 Posted by Blog 2 comments

(The purpose of Soul Care Conversation is to create a place to generate dialogue, initiate thoughtful consideration for the challenges our veterans face each day, share ideas of veteran and family well-being and healing, and spark within all of us a call to be engaged with the veteran and caregiver community. Click here to visit the forum and join the conversation!)

Last week, we continued our conversation on how to assist the veteran to seek a restorative path by looking at the first practice; trauma care and healing. This week we will discuss the second practice; restorative justice.

BACKGROUND

About a month ago, we discussed one of the core capabilities the faith community has in journeying with the veteran and the veteran’s family toward healing; restorative justice. Just to re-cap our conversation, restorative justice is an integral part in God’s redemptive pursuit to wholeness.

While restorative justice may have its origins in legal principles, it has as its roots the biblical concept of justice that focuses on three entities; the victim, the offender, and the community. The end-state of restorative justice is the restoration of broken relationships so all may experience God’s wholeness. Restorative justice centers on God’s purpose in redeeming a broken world.

We also discovered that the Gospels remind us that healing and restorative justice remain at the center of God’s response. Jesus conveys the message for the faith community to be healers, peacemakers, and justice doers when faced with brokenness, emptiness, alienation, and violence. Through compassion, love, mercy, and forgiveness, Jesus models how to transform lives and restore dignity and purpose to the injured, broken and lost.

Jesus’ message focused on something radically different; those who know God’s mercy must share it with others. Jesus instructs his followers to do the same. The God of restorative justice works in and through the faith community to bring healing and wholeness.

LIVING LESSONS

As an Army chaplain, I received my endorsement from the United Methodist Church. Over the 30 years on active duty I maintained a connection with my denomination and specifically to my Bishop through reports, visits, and attendance at the annual conference. When I attended my annual conference I did so in uniform.

I often received words of appreciation and encouragement. Numerous clergy and lay persons shared their gratitude for military chaplains because they had sons, daughters, grandchildren, and other family members in the Guard, Reserves, or on active duty. Numerous local churches extended invitations to speak, especially Memorial Day and Veterans Day.

I received words of affirmation and gratitude when persons exclaimed, “Thank you for your service.” More importantly, I heard persons share that our veterans deserve our nation’s support for their sacrifice and service. But, sadly the sharing of God’s mercy ended with words.

I have witnessed the same for other veterans as well. It is easy to pay lip service, but much more difficult to actually engage in sharing God’s mercy as we care for our veterans. Seeking a restorative path is not just in words, but an action, where we practice justice for the veteran and the whole community. Jesus said, “God blesses those who work for peace, for they will be called the children of God.” (Matthew 5:9) You see, Jesus states that we are to work for peace, not just speak about peace. Jesus’ followers should bring into all their relationships a quality that makes for unity and blessing.

THEOLOGICAL BASIS 

How can we practice justice? The Hebrew concept of justice has at its core the vision of shalom. Shalom generally translates as peace. Peace is much more much than the lack of conflict. Shalom is about what it does; fosters fruitful relationships between God, with each other, and with creation. Justice then seeks shalom.

What does God require of us? One of the most used verses with the faith community that promotes restorative justice is Micah 6:8, “No, O people, the Lord has already told you what is good, and this is what God requires; to do justice, to love mercy, and to walk humbly with your God.” The answer to Israel’s disobedience and broken relationship with God and one another was not more sacrifices, but something much deeper. The faith community is to act; do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God.

When a transgression occurs between people, shalom suffers. How can we restore relationship? To do justice, love mercy, and walk humbly with God; the community works to resolve the offence and resulting harm. When this occurs within the community, relationships are strengthened and the wounded healed. Peace yields individual and community well-being.

Practicing justice rebuilds and increases shalom for the affected individuals and society. Both the Hebrew and Christian scriptures reflect that the central actor of restorative justice is the community.

FAITH COMMUNITY

So, how can the faith community share God’s mercy with the veteran? The model for restorative justice practices can be found in prisons, schools (bullying), and in social and criminal justice systems. The faith community can practice justice as we adapt these principles in order to share God’s mercy.

So, how can the faith community live out the biblical imperative of justice? Lets look at several principles with a specific example;

  • accountability (offer a spiritual mentoring program where veterans who have been on a healing journey can serve as a guide and companion to other veterans toward wholeness and healing)
  • sharing the story (offer a peer to peer support group where veterans can share their sacred story and address personal concerns; emotional, spiritual, educational, vocational, transitional, and the needs of their families)
  • repairing the harm (offer through the liturgy of worship, special healing services, pastoral counseling, reintegration services, and appreciation and recognition events; opportunities for healing)
  • follow through (offer opportunities to develop resiliency through study, prayer, fellowship, and service)

Possibly you can think of others to share! Through restorative justice, the faith community is uniquely positioned to “be a blessing” to veterans and their families who have experienced a soul wound. Next week we will discuss the third practice; conflict transformation. Until then, thank you for the conversation…

 

Soul Care Conversation (Faith Community Assets For Veteran Care, Ritual)

May 15th, 2016 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

(The purpose of Soul Care Conversation is to create a place to generate dialogue, initiate thoughtful consideration for the challenges our veterans face each day, share ideas of veteran and family well-being and healing, and spark within all of us a call to be engaged with the veteran and caregiver community. Click here to visit the forum and join the conversation!)

Several weeks ago we began a conversation with a new focus, the faith community’s strengths and capacities for veteran care. The first topic we discussed was on hospitality. This week we will review the importance of ritual as a means of support for the veteran to transition from the battlefield to civilian society.

BACKGROUND

Merriam-Webster defines ritual;

  • a formal ceremony or series of acts that is always performed in the same way
  • an act or series of acts done in a particular situation and in the same way each time

Ritual can involve words, gestures, and objects. Ritual is done in a particular sequence and in a particular place. Ritual usually is prescribed by tradition and characterized by rules. Ritual provides structure and can initiate a rite of passage. Ritual can revolve around a date on the calendar or can be commemorative.

Veterans can easily identify with ritual. In the military, ritual has its origin in customs and tradition. Customs and tradition all contribute to establishing a common identity, standards of conduct, and marking rites of passage, which are a necessary part of establishing and maintaining community and esprit de corps. Military customs and traditions are rooted in the warrior ethos of duty, honor, country, selfless service, and respect. From a recruit graduating basic training to a retirement ceremony where a warrior receives recognition for her or his years of service, ritual has its place in reminding the warrior of his or her role in service to country.

Even as a warrior returns from war, they receive a “welcome home” ceremony. The ceremony has importance for the warrior, unit, and nation. Each ceremony will be slightly different, but has the following in common;

  • official formation
  • recognition speech
  • award ceremony

But, the “liturgy” of the ceremony lacks a critical component, a “cleansing” or purge of the warrior’s experience while at war. The military welcomes the warrior home, but does not embrace the warrior who has experienced the horrors of the battlefield nor assist the veteran back into society. I find this most interesting. As I compare other cultures and societies, I have discovered stories and rituals to assist the warrior to return from combat and then transition back into society.

Why is this important? Often war so deeply effects the soul of the warrior that they return injured, wounded, or broken. This is why many ancient societies included purification rituals for warriors returning from battle;

  • Rome, the Vestal virgins performed purification rituals for those in the Legion returning after battle
  • African tribes, such as the Masia warriors, recognized that the reintegration into society post-battle required ritual expression of the move from one sphere of life to another
  • Biblical instruction of Numbers 31:19-21 to purify soldiers after warfare                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                (above taken from Warrior Transitions: From Combat to Social Contract, Shannon E. French, PhD, US Naval Academy, January 2005, JSCOPE)
  • Native American cultures used the “sweat lodge” as a place of spiritual refuge and mental and physical healing, a place the warrior could receive repair done to the damaged spirit

These are but a few examples of how other cultures and societies put their warriors through rituals of purification prior to the warrior’s returning to their family or community. The widely held thought was that those warriors who were not purified were a danger to themselves and their communities. Possibly there may be a correlation to the destructive behavior within the US veteran community post-deployment, and a high suicide rate among veterans.

RITUAL

The faith community has unique strengths and capabilities to offer the veteran. In this instance, ritual can be a powerful resource toward reintegration into the community and personal healing. Because the veteran has familiarity with ritual within military customs and tradition, the ritual of the faith community may hold importance.

Some similarities in ritual look like;

  • The pastor may say “the Lord be with you” and the congregation responds with “and also with you”. In the military, a lower ranking member salutes a higher ranking individual in greeting and respect and the higher ranking individual returns the salute in greeting and recognition.
  • In the church, we might stand for the reading of the Gospel, where the military member rises and comes to attention for the raising and lowering of the flag.
  • We may have an installation service for a pastor or congregational leader, where the military has a Change of Command ceremony that recognizes an outgoing commander for his or her accomplishments and encourages the incoming commander to care for the unit, mission and personnel.

Congregational spiritual practices, activities, and rituals create a climate of healing and communicate a sense of care to the veteran and his/her family.  Whether a retreat, study of holy writings, special healing service, recognition service, or in the Christian tradition, the use of the church calendar in developing liturgy, such as a Good Friday Service, contain powerful resources for hope and restoration.

Some of the rituals available to the faith community that could provide effective, powerful and transformative resources are;

  • healing
  • repentance and reconciliation
  • cleansing and purification
  • Eucharist

As the faith community attends to their respective liturgies in ritual, we discover a dynamic interplay of the sacred story and God’s response to a broken world. At the very heart of liturgy is a journey toward healing and restoration. Liturgy can be a powerful resource as a place for recovery of the wounded soul.

Next week, we will focus specifically on the Eucharist as a means of caring for the veteran. Until then, thank you for the conversation…

 

Soul Care Conversation (Faith Community Assets for Veteran Care, Hospitality)

April 29th, 2016 Posted by Blog No Comment yet

(The purpose of Soul Care Conversation is to create a place to generate dialogue, initiate thoughtful consideration for the challenges our veterans face each day, share ideas of veteran and family well-being and healing, and spark within all of us a call to be engaged with the veteran and caregiver community. Click here to visit the forum and join the conversation!)

Last week we concluded our conversation on developing a theology of healing and the faith community’s role. This week we will begin a conversation on the faith community’s strengths and capacities for care.

BACKGROUND

Beyond the difficulties our warriors experience in combat, the transition home from a deployment presents numerous challenges for the veteran and the family. War changes all who step onto the battlefield. A sense of brokenness and alienation from God, self, and others result.

God’s response to heal human brokenness is powerfully lived out in the midst of the faith community. The faith community has an important role in a healing strategy; be a blessing to others. God gives life as a gift and expects that those who know God’s mercy share it with others. A faith community that lives this role will partner with the veteran on a difficult and long journey toward transformation and healing of the soul. The faith community has unique strengths and capacities for care, one being hospitality.

HOSPITALITY

The dictionary defines hospitality as;

the friendly reception and treatment of guests or strangers, the quality or disposition of receiving and treating guests and strangers in a warm, friendly, generous way.

But, Biblical hospitality goes much deeper than hosting or feeding a guest. Hospitality means to love a stranger or alien. From ancient times until today, hospitality has been an important part of the faith community’s identity.

The Hebrew and Christian texts both command and commend hospitality. 

Hospitality commanded in scripture;

  • Do not exploit the foreigners who live in your land. They should be treated like everyone else, and you must love them as you love yourself. Remember, you were once foreigners in the land of Egypt. I, the Lord, am your God. (Leviticus 19:33-34 , the New Living Translation)
  • Most important of all, continue to show deep love for each other…cheerfully share your home with those who need a meal or a place to stay. God has given gifts to each of you for God’s great variety of spiritual gifts. Manage them well so that God’s generosity can flow through you. (1 Peter 4:8-10, the New Living Translation)
  • Romans 12:13 encourages us all to practice hospitality. “When God’s children are in need, be the one to help them out. And get into the habit of inviting guests home for dinner or, if they need lodging, for the night.” (New Living Translation)

Scripture commends hospitality;

  • Abraham’s servant is welcomed in Rebekah’s home (Genesis 24:22-25).
  • Moses is welcomed by the priest of Midian (Exodus 2:20).
  • When David arrives at Mahanaim, he is provided vital supplies (2 Samuel 17:27-29).
  • Jesus received hospitality from people of all social backgrounds (Matthew 9:10, Mark 14:30, etc.).
  • Hospitality was shown to the disciples, and Peter and Paul post-resurrection (Matthew 10:11-12, Luke 10:5-7, Acts 10:32, Acts 16:15).

IMPLICATIONS FOR FAITH COMMUNITY 

The above examples of hospitality are just a small sampling of what scripture shares about the practice. Hospitality in the ancient world focused on the alien or stranger in need. The plight of the alien was dire. They lacked membership in a tribe or community. Because of their lack of “status,” the alien was in need of food, shelter, and protection. Hospitality meant graciously receiving an alien or stranger into one’s home or community. It also meant providing directly for that person’s needs.

 The story of Abraham points to how God can use the faith community to touch lives in a powerful way, by loving the stranger and alien. So, what did Abraham do when faced with the stranger in his midst? He practiced hospitality by; (Genesis 18:2-8)
  • He did not wait for the visitors to come to him, Abraham went out to meet them where they were.
  • Abraham was humble in conversation and action (used humble forms of address, bowed before the guests, washed their feet).
  • Abraham and Sarah prepared a meal using the best ingredients.
  • Abraham walked a distance with his departing guests.

What lessons can the faith community learn from this example in practicing hospitality to the veteran?

  • We do not wait for the veteran to come to us, we meet them where they are.
  • No matter our feelings toward war or the warrior, we treat every veteran with respect as we listen to their story with our hearts, not judging them or their experiences.
  • We provide for their needs, whatever that may be, by giving the veteran our best effort and resources.
  • We walk with the veteran on their journey, not passing the veteran or their challenges on to someone else. When the veteran feels ready to move on the journey without us, they will let us know.

RELEVANCE FOR THE VETERAN

In last week’s blog,  Honoring Relationships, we discussed that the church has a unique capacity for care, hospitality. Hospitality takes on an important role to the veteran and the veteran’s family. Veterans have experienced a strong sense of community in the military, a band of brothers and sisters. Relationships to veterans and their families are quintessential. When warriors demobilize and return to their civilian communities, they often miss the close bond of the military family. The faith community can become a resource so that the veteran and family feel a part of a social network, a family.

Also, hospitality opens doors for developing a relationship and trust with the veteran. Both are important. The veteran no longer has his or her brother or sister in arms to rely on. A congregant who truly practices the biblical model of hospitality can become a friend or spiritual mentor that will journey with the veteran or the family through hell if needed.

When we practice hospitality, we have the opportunity to touch lives in an intimate and personal way. God calls us to love everyone, including the veteran, but we may be doing much more than we thought.  Hebrews 13:2 says, “Don’t forget to show hospitality to strangers, for some who have done this have entertained angels without realizing it.”  (New Living Translation) When we show genuine hospitality to a stranger, we may be serving an angel of God. Indeed, the story of Abraham’s hospitality reminds us just that.

I am not saying that our veterans are angels, but they do deserve our respect, honor, and hospitality. Next week, we will discuss the role of liturgy and traditions. Until then, thank you for the conversation…