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Posts Tagged ‘armed forces’

Everyone loves the Christmas season.  While reasons may vary from hearing a performance of the Hallelujah Chorus to snow sledding, people love the Christmas season.  It is the arrival of our promised Emmanuel, “God with us.”  This season also has a funny way of changing people.

Yes, Christmas is the best time of year, but we often forget to mention what it does to us.  Christmas brings out the best in us.  No matter where you live, there is an increased effort for people to be kind, caring, and generous.  Drivers are more courteous on the roadways.  You open the door for someone when their arms are full with shopping bags.  Neighbors help each other by raking leaves or shoveling snow off sidewalks.  We even tell total strangers, “Merry Christmas!”

This spirit of gratitude and grace comes from our Creator.  God has demonstrated His love in sending Jesus Christ to earth.  We celebrate this perfect gift in many ways, but the power of God’s love changes us.

We reciprocate the love that God has shared with us, His children.  The gift of Jesus is so tremendous that we live in a different way.  We choose to be transformed and in turn show greater compassion.  This beautiful event happens more now than at any other time of the year.  Christmas and the celebration of our Savior yield a new and different world.  One where people give gifts, adopt orphans, feed the homeless, care for widows, support unemployed veterans, and show compassion to the resident stranger.  In short, we decide to live out our faith.  We put God’s plan of grace into action.

As the Christmas holiday approaches you and your family, make the decision to be transformed.  Reflect the love that God has poured out from heaven, through Jesus the promised Messiah.  Demonstrate your faith and share the love that you have received from our Heavenly Father.

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Suicide is a monumental problem in our society and in the military. Currently, a member of the Armed Forces dies each day from suicide. We could easily read the suicide rates for 2012 and forget that every suicide statistic represents a life lost.  A death that leaves behind scores of hurting people.

There is no “one size fits all” solution to suicide. People contemplate suicide for many different reasons; increased alcohol and drug use, divorce, family dissolution, financial matters, legal trouble, an illness, depression, and many other reasons. While the causes vary, we can all show universal concern and support.

Here are some ways to help people at-risk of suicide.

1. Be present. Show your concern for people in pain.  Make time for the person who is hurting.  Scripture shares that we need to “bear one another’s burdens.” Take time to help through their days of difficulty.

2. Listen. Express compassion through listening and responding. Empathy is a great way to show concern to a person experiencing pain. Hear his or her concerns. Allow that person to say what is causing the pain.  Share the gift of silent listening and then you can guide your friend with wise counsel.

3. Do something about the problem. Too often, people at-risk are so overwhelmed with depression, grief, stress, or anguish that they don’t know where to turn next. Give that person guidance. Share resources that can help. Take them to a medic, chaplain, or counselor. Call the VA hospital. Find a way to connect the person with assistance. The Bible encourages us to be, “doers of the word, not hearers only.”  Take action, especially when it comes to the important issue of suicide.

Suicide impacts our state, our community, and National Guard units across the nation.  While causes will vary, we can all make a difference in addressing the problem.  Demonstrate compassion and concern for those who are hurting.  Take time and be available to friends in need.  The time and efforts you make can save a life.

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There is no doubt who has the most difficult job when a service member is deployed.  Military spouses win that one hands down!  They do the job of two people, wrangle kids, make sure that the household stays afloat, and everything else while their warrior is downrange.

Military spouses have a new way to find resources online.  Spouselink is made for the needs and interests of the military spouse.  It covers a wide variety of topics and has a splash of pop culture included.  So take it for a test drive, watch a video, read an article, or share information with another family member with the click of a button.

http://www.spouselink.org

 

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Scripture reminds us to “pray without ceasing.”  Be mindful of these service members and their families during the Olympic Games in London.  Many of these service members are veterans who have protected our liberty.  Pray for their safety and protection as they continue to represent our Nation.

Warrior Olympians: 16 military athletes vie for glory in London – Off Duty, Sports, Hunting, Fishing – Army Times.

 

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Everyone loves being called a “single digit midget” in the military.  It means that you have entered the end of your deployment cycle and you are under 10 days from being home.  Your freedom flight is ready to carry you across the ocean and onto American soil.  A homecoming is just around the corner.

Homecomings also mean that a military family is giddy with excitement.  They are preparing to circle a date on the calendar and pick up their hero at the airport or attend a welcome home ceremony.  Either way, it will be a day to remember; a day that soldier, spouse, and family have been praying for.

Once the military family is reunited, challenges can easily surface.  This transition will take time for everyone involved, so here are some tips once the deployment is finished.

Give your hero time to adjust at home.  Don’t tightly schedule activities or gatherings.  He or she may require additional rest adjusting to a new time zone, a change of food, and a change of climate.  Yes, while it may be hard to believe, but the weather in some parts of the world is much worse than the heat we’ve experienced this summer.

Plan some together time for the immediate family.  Do something special where all the kids can be involved.  This will help your hero get back into the rhythm of family life.  It’s often best to re-connect as a family first and then have a romantic getaway.

Discuss roles and responsibilities.  Roles typically change during the deployment.  Will everything return to the pre-deployment routine?  Who will balance the checkbook?  Who will pick up the kids after school?  Who will mow the yard?  Perhaps the kids have been fixing dinner on Friday night for the last 5 months and they enjoy the challenge.  What will normal family life look like now that your soldier is home?  Now is the time to discuss what is best for the family.

Be patient and tolerant with your spouse.  New experiences during a deployment may bring changes to your hero’s attitude and outlook.  The parent who stayed home may also have a short fuse from being the “only adult” at home.  Remember Ephesians 5:1-2, “Be imitators of God, as beloved children; and walk in love, just as Christ also loved you . . . .”  Challenges will arise, but continue to show grace and compassion toward each other.

You just spent a year apart, now is the time to enjoy togetherness.  Get off the computer.  Put down your phone.  Go out.  Talk.  Make time for each other.  Celebrate the gift God has given you.

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Found a great article on the struggles of marriage that will speak to every military couple.  She does a great job of sharing practical tips and reinforces the fact that being a Christian does not exempt you from marital problems.

Hats off to Elisabeth K. Corcoran for the excellent advice.  Enjoy the article.

In a Difficult Marriage? | Kyria.

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Chaplains are pretty busy during Annual Training season in the National Guard.  Tuesday I gave another suicide prevention class.  It’s a requirement that Soldiers get the presentation at least once a year.  The training focuses on the magnitude of the problem, how common issues can drive anyone to the point of despair, and that everyone can watch out for your battle buddy.

While many try to pin the Army suicide issue on multiple deployments, the majority of issues that drive people to suicide are common issues:  failed relationships, financial difficulty, and legal woes.  These are typical factors that we see in the civilian population, at schools, in factories, and even in the church.  PTSD is a factor in military suicide, but it is not the top issue that Time magazine or other media outlets want you to believe.

The fundamental issue to remember is that everyone can save a life.  You probably survived a breakup, be it in high school, college, or at work.  You probably understand what it is like to bounce a check or have a tough time making your paycheck last the entire month.  We are all in the same boat.  We all have the life experience necessary to help people at risk of suicide.

Remember and apply ACE: Ask, Care, Escort.

If you believe that someone is at risk of suicide, ask him/her about the problem.  Find out what is going on in the person’s life.  Directly ask if he/she is thinking about suicide.  Care by listening to the issue.  Find out what is causing the pain and suffering.  Why is the Soldier upset?  Finally, escort the Soldier to a resource.  That can be a chaplain, a medic, a counselor, an NCO, a friend, or a family member.

Don’t leave the person alone.  Make sure that he or she gets help.  It is okay to call a suicide hotline or wake up a supervisor, just don’t ignore the warning signs.

You don’t have to be a mental health counselor to apply ACE.  You don’t have to be an expert.  But you can practice these basic steps in suicide first aid.  Do your part to reduce suicide and help your friends.

If you need immediate assistance these suicide hot lines are always available:

Military One Source – 1.877.995.5247 or National Suicide Prevention Lifeline – 1.800.273.TALK (8255).

 

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