Pastoral Ministry Beyond the Battlefield
One of the main goals of the MCA is to “extend pastoral ministry beyond the battlefield.” We, as current and former military and VA chaplains, along with our partners in the CAP, have a tremendous amount of training, experience, and empathy to bring to the table in the care of our warriors.
When we (under the authority of the President) send young men and women into battle, we also incur the responsibility, the moral imperative, to bring them all the way home. Getting their whole or broken bodies back in the States is not enough – we must bring their minds, their souls, and their value back to full incorporation in normative American society.
One way we can leverage our experience and training is to train local congregations where we now live, work and worship to welcome veterans and their families into full membership, to recognize the virtues and stresses of military life, and to offer our counsel in addressing the unique issues that continue to play on their hearts and minds. “Moral and spiritual injury” is almost unavoidable for warriors trained to be kind as children and then trained to kill and destroy as young adults. Clergy, of all the people in the nation, are in the best place to recognize that injury, to assist the combatant in making confession, and, yes, in pronouncing forgiveness and absolution. We cannot erase memories and actions, but we can help our veterans to find God’s presence and meaning within the horrific actions of war, and to dig through the silt and debris to find the gold.
The other non-profit I try to lead, Care For The Troops, has a congregational guide to help you teach your civilian congregations to do their part in bringing our men and women all the way home. There is no cost to using that guide and anyone can download, print, modify, and distribute as you see fit.
May God bless you as richly as you continue to bless our military members, veterans and their families.