Posts Tagged ‘deployment’


Today, well over a hundred thousand military personnel are deployed overseas. Members of the US Armed Forces are on seven continents and in 170 countries. These warriors are away from their loved ones and families because threats do not take holidays.

Pray for the 28,000 service members in South Korea, the 13,000 in Afghanistan, the 5,000 in Iraq and the 20,000 National Guard personnel who are activated alongside. They stand guard this weekend so that others can have security and know peace.

May God richly bless our troops, strengthen their families, and sustain their efforts across the globe.

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There are certain times on the calendar when memories of past deployments run strong.  December often makes me mindful of my time overseas.

You are united with your unit as everyone has a job to perform.  You are also united in the hardships and difficulties of being separated from those you love.

December is a tough time to be separated from family and friends.  You miss the traditional family practices and customs like putting up the Christmas tree.  You miss the favorite food and dishes that made this particular time of year memorable.  You miss the gift exchanges.  But you also miss the church gatherings, Christmas pageants, and special worship services.  They are the times and events that keep us strong in faith.

When service members are deployed, we are able to receive packages in the mail.  Uncle Sam will serve us a meal with all the special fixings.  Folks will decorate an office or work station with a snowman, reindeer, or Christmas lights.  But missing church services as a family always proved to be a hardship for Soldiers to overcome, no matter where you were stationed.

This Christmas, 86,000 Soldiers will be forward deployed across the globe.  They will be overseas and away from their loved ones.  They will be working in guard towers.  They will be flying helicopters.  They will be driving tanks.  They will be constructing buildings, bridges, and roadways.  They will be aiding hospital patients.

As we gather in churches across America, let us remember those who are deployed around the globe.

Pray for our service members this month.  Lift them up as they perform their daily duties away from home and in harm’s way.  Pray for their families as they celebrate Christmas with an empty chair at the table and the heartache that can bring.  Pray for God to bring our warriors home safely and for families to heal when they are reunited.  Pray that they can gather next December and celebrate the birth of Christ as a family one more time.

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Enduring Freedom

Most service members think about spiritual matters during deployment.  We take stock of our lives while in the face of death and danger.  This time of examination and spiritual questioning is important.  Rarely do we stay the same afterward.  This time of spiritual searching will frequently send service members in one of two distinct directions.  Many gain a stronger relationship with God.  Others may question their beliefs and feel spiritually empty.

For those who may be in the later category, I want you to know that it is normal to ask questions about our faith.  Spiritual matters are important downrange, when we have returned home, and as we reintegrate into our communities.  Everyone is impacted differently by war.  We have endured different levels of strife and conflict. We also have different levels of spiritual understanding when we enter the combat zone and when we leave.  Regardless of your location or when you served, your faith will be different when you come home.

No matter if your faith has grown or shrunk, it is important that you continue moving forward in your Christian walk.  Do not stand still in your faith.  1 Timothy 4:7b-8 shares, “rather, train yourself to be godly. For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things, holding promise for both the present life and the life to come.”

Every believer, civilian or veteran, needs a spiritual fitness routine.  Like physical fitness, spiritual fitness must be practiced.  While it is different from going to the gym and lifting weights, the concept is the same.   We need to exercise our spiritual muscles in order to grow our faith.

Spiritual fitness can take place in many different ways:

  • prayer
  • reading scripture
  • attending worship services
  • seeking spiritual counsel
  • fellowship
  • meditation
  • journaling

This is a small, but important sample of spiritual exercises that you can try.  Feel free to try one and gradually combine others to your list.   You can also participate in these activities with your family, friends, and a Christian community of believers, adding a greater dimension to your spiritual fitness by increasing your connection to other people.

Spiritual fitness is important to everyone.  It draws us closer to God, forms us in the image of Jesus Christ, and allows us to strengthen our faith.  Your spiritual fitness also affects your ability to deal with stress and times of crisis.  Multiple studies determined that veterans who have an active spiritual practice report fewer and less severe post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD) symptoms.  Those who struggled with their faith or felt alienated from God had more severe PTSD symptoms.

Spiritual fitness also reduces anxiety, loneliness, and depression.  Studies have also documented how people with a weekly pattern of attending worship services live longer, are healthier, and recover from illness more quickly.

Veterans and service members can take comfort in the transforming power of God. No matter where or when you were deployed, God still cares about you.  No matter what you saw downrange or what you did, you can have a redeemed life.

When life seems full of despair, the Lord shares purpose, meaning, forgiveness, and acceptance.  Continue to move forward in your faith.  Train yourself to be the godly and righteous person you were called to become.

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I have seen this list several times and wanted to share the photo.

If you have endured any of the above while down range, then this list might bring a smile to your face also.


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History has taught us that people are different when they return from war.  Part of the difference is often called the soldier’s paradox.  After returning from combat, veterans can be emotionally distant, edgy, and angry, but they are also happy to be home.

During this time, veterans may have a short temper and little tolerance for mistakes.  They are often more independent and boisterous than before the deployment.  The transition from the war zone to the home zone can be very difficult.  It also allows an atmosphere where anger, resentment, bitterness, and even depression can occupy our minds if we allow it.  If firm boundaries are not in place, we will abuse alcohol, behave badly, curse and swear, start shouting matches, and spend more time with our battle buddies than at home.

To put it plainly, we stumble.

1 Corinthians 10:32 shares, “Do not cause anyone to stumble, whether Jews, Greeks or the church of God . . . .”

This is an important reminder for returning veterans.  We should not falter in our witness.  Even if we are hurting, our actions are examples that other may follow.  It does not matter who may be watching an NCO, an officer, a spouse, a stranger, or your own child.  That being the case, we should not lead others toward sin.  We should instead reflect the love and peace of Christ.  Our actions should point toward the cross and demonstrate a redeemed life.

There are ways to ease the transition home.

Make time for your family.  Soldiers often make strong ties with fellow warriors while deployed.  This was part of your support network while down range, but there is a family who needs you.  Balance time between battle buddies and family.  Be a godly example for your spouse and kids.

Make time for God.  Growth and development is what every parent wants in a child.  If a child stops growing any parent would be concerned.  God wants us to mature and strengthen our faith.  If you are the same Christian you were last year, something needs to change.  Turn prayer, study, and fellowship into regular activities.  In time, you will see the difference.

We all stumble.  But there is a responsibility to get back on track.  Remember that sanctification is the lifelong process of being changed from one degree of glory to the next, constantly growing in Christ.  As military families continue reintegration, pursue the example of Christ.

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Your soldier finally made it back from the deployment.  The homecoming ceremony is over.  The banners and bunting are put away.  The confetti is gone.  Your warrior is home with 90 days of leave.  Now what?

Here are a few tips on how to handle your soldier at home.

Communicate like a couple.  This will be rusty at first.  You have both changed during the deployment.  You are more independent and your warrior still needs to adjust back into the family.  Remember that you will hear lots of military jargon and abbreviations.  They will make no sense to you whatsoever.  It is okay to turn your head and say, “I don’t know what you just said.  Did you just speak in Martian?  Is that some kind of Army lingo you picked up during the deployment?”  Be ready for the soldier to talk like a soldier.  Sentences may be short and choppy.  In return, speak up when that occurs.  Remind your warrior that you were not down range.  Apply grace and compassion in moments like this.  Listen to the war stories and remind your soldier to hear the home stories as well.  Show love through humor and sharing.

Reunions take time.  Once the soldier is home, it will take time to reconnect.  You cannot flip a switch and return your family to 2011.  Expect things to go well.  There is normally a honeymoon period where everything is perfect because the family is back together.  This can last a couple of days or a couple of weeks.  It is different for each military family.  In time, challenges will start to surface.  The kids will act up during the worst possible time.  The dog will get sick.  Conversations turn into arguments.  Tempers will flare.  Snippy comments are exchanged and suddenly our once happy couple stops using titles like dear, baby, honey, or sugar toward each other.  Don’t growl at each other.  This is when you adjust to new roles and routines.  How did things function during the deployment?  Share what a typical day looked like and how the family needs to function.  Make the adjustments necessary.  Gradually, the new normal will be established at home, but prepare for a couple of kinks in the line.  Remember to demonstrate patience with each other.

Keep your activities.  Keep the fun events and activities that got you through the deployment.  Don’t give up the good stuff that kept you sane during the last year.  Several spouses will join a gym, have a girl’s night out with FRG friends, start a hobby, or join a book club.  Don’t throw them out because your warrior is home.  Likewise, soldiers may have taken college classes, maintained a fitness routine, attended Bible study, or enjoyed a movie night with battle buddies during the deployment.  Soldiers and spouses should keep the good stuff from the last year, but remember to maintain a balance.  Make time for each other and your family.  Don’t let activities and events get in the way of your reunion.  Protect the good stuff in a healthy way.

Each time I came home, my wife was very patient with me.  We felt that the second deployment was easier in some ways because we knew what to expect.  But there were different challenges from the first go around.  Military families need to know that every deployment and homecoming is different.  The issues that military families face are complex and varied.  Don’t expect the first to be like the second.  Make time to attend your reintegration briefings or Yellow Ribbon events.  They will offer practical ways to help you and your funny talking soldier.

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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.



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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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There is new interest in trying to prop up the Stolen Valor Act, a federal statute that prohibits people from lying about military service and being awarded military medals.

Last week the Supreme Court struck down the law on grounds that it violated free speech on a 6-3 ruling.  Many were disappointed with the action.  Veterans and military groups across the nation spoke in favor of the law.  While honest and integrity are at the heart of the law, people forget the impact this ruling will have on our service members.  As veterans continue to return home and seek jobs, there is an increasing need to separate fact from fiction.  Many private firms, along with government agencies, have veteran hiring preferences.  Those with military service may be placed ahead of others when applying for a job.  So there is something to gain from lying on a resume or job application.

Lawmakers will likely take a second bite at the apple.  Efforts are underway to pass another version of the law, one more narrowly focused.  The Stolen Valor Act 2.0, will make it illegal to lie about military service for profit.  This way charlatans cannot benefit from claiming military medals or combat tours.  By changing direction and focusing on the issue of fraud, let’s hope that this version will make constitutional muster.

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