Posts Tagged ‘veterans’


For many, this weekend marks the beginning of summer.  It will entail a trip to the lake, a national park, or just staying home to grill some brats. Others will attend patriotic parades, decorate grave sites, fly the American flag, or participate in a Memorial Day event.    

It is a weekend when we remember those who have died defending our nation, our freedom, and our principles.  It is estimated that nearly 1.3 million service members have died and an additional 1.5 million service members were wounded fighting for our country.  Speakers and politicians will highlight stories of sacrifice, selfless service, and love as essential values that create military heroes.  While people will point to battlefields, war zones, and far off foreign campaigns as the epitome of valor, these values have a greater beginning.

We understand sacrifice, selfless service, and love because of God.

John 3:16 shares, “For God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.”  God gave His Son as a sacrifice for the sins and wrongs of humanity.  This sacrificial gift shows the value and love that God has for us, His children.  Jesus Christ demonstrates this perfect and holy love by freely laying down His life for us.  He acts as a substitute, bleeds and dies on our behalf, so that we can benefit in life with the Lord.

It is a familiar story that we will hear about heroic Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, and Marines.  It is the same reason that we hand out medals for bravery and valor.  But do not forget the one who died for you.  Many died for our freedom, but one died for our salvation.

Read Full Post »


May marks the celebration of Military Appreciation Month, Military Spouse Appreciation Day, and Armed Forces Day.  One special month and special days are a good start to recognizing the sacrifices of our American service members and their families.  Show that your thanks and appreciation is unending for those who serve our nation 24 hours a day, 365 days a year.

Read Full Post »


What is it about the Civil War that continues to hold our fascination?  Why does this uniquely American conflict still carry such sway and emotion in our nation?  Tony Horwitz sets out to answer these questions and entertain his readers along the way. I believe that both tasks are accomplished in tremendous fashion.

The Civil War is remembered for many different reasons.  It fractured our Republic.    It divided families.  It produced an estimated 618,000 to 700,000 casualties.  It ended slavery.  And lest we forget, it preserved the Union.

Horwitz shows that the Civil War still rages in quirky and compelling ways.  No subject is off-limits for what is destined to become another classic on the Civil War shelf.  Horwitz discusses perspectives on the rebel flag; Stone Mountain; Union and Confederate reenactors; military tactics, equipment, and technology during the war; race relations then and now; the loss of historic battlefields; Nathan Bedford Forrest; unique organizations like the Sons, Daughters, and Children of the Confederacy; and even Jewish soldiers who fought for the South.  His great adventure takes you on a ten-state travelogue that is truly inspiring and informative.

As a veteran, his book gave me a greater awareness of combat and Army life from that era.  These soldiers had low survival rates and primitive conditions.  A small wound could easily cause tragedy.  Battlefields were littered with wounded soldiers who may not receive medical care for days and in some cases a week after being injured.  The battle space could be so distant, that medics may not arrive in time.  Later in the war, soldiers would write a final letter home and pin it on their uniform as they lay bleeding on the battlefield.

The book also made me consider how Union and Confederate veterans struggled with both their collective and individual homecomings after the war.  The feelings and emotions that OIF and OEF veterans experience today can’t be that distant from what they endured.

The ten-state journey and excellent humor made me turn the pages.  Each chapter was a delight and made me hungry for more.  The book is well written and is highly relevant for anyone.  You don’t need a history degree or a combat badge to enjoy this trek along the South.  Horwitz will keep you entertained and open your eyes to issues that still demand our attention.

I guarantee that you will enjoy his blend of humor, history, and hard-nosed journalism.

Read Full Post »

Gambling is a problem in America.  But gambling addiction issues with veterans are twice as high.

The Veterans Administration funded a study to determine the prevalence of problems and pathological gambling addictions within the U.S. military.  The findings deserve our attention:

  • One in 10 veterans have a problem or pathological gambling addiction (2 percent pathological addictions and 8 percent problem addictions to gambling)
  • Unemployment plays a major role in whether the veteran had gambling addictions, and married veterans were more likely to have gambling addictions (not what psychologists and researchers expected to see)
  • Veterans have about twice the rate of problems/pathological gambling addictions compared to the general, non-military population
  • Both male and female veterans have almost identical problem and pathological gambling addiction rates (again, this is unusual – not what psychologists and researchers expected to see)
  • Veterans with post-traumatic stress disorder, depression and anxiety tend to have more gambling addiction problems
  • Younger veterans (20s) were more likely to be diagnosed as pathological gamblers (from previous data, most veterans with pathological gambling addictions are 35 and older, so this change in age for addiction was unexpected)

Veterans are immediately submitted to unhealthy methods of emotional escape when they return from combat.  There is a strong temptation to find unhealthy coping mechanisms because you are trying to develop a new normal at home or deal with combat stress reactions.  Many WWII veterans turned to alcohol, isolated themselves from family, and became workaholics when they returned from combat.  While this was a way to cope with problems, it was not the best way.

Gambling easily lends itself to a destructive path.  In short order, people quickly become compulsive gamblers, grow financially unstable, throw away friends and family, end marriages, abandon children, risk loosing a security clearance, jeopardize his/her military career, and even contemplate suicide.

Know the signs that point to a gambling addiction.  If you have a battle buddy or know a veteran who needs help, don’t wait.  Tell him/her what you see.  Encourage that person to get help.  State agencies and military posts offer free gambling addiction resources.  It is important that we act quickly when someone is at risk.  The loss of family and financial security may be enough for someone to consider suicide.  Your actions can help to save a life.

The National Council on Problem Gambling has a 24/7 confidential hotline:  1-800-522-4700.

Gamblers Anonymous offers a link with state hotlines at http://www.gamblersanonymous.org/ga/hotlines

Military One Source offers free and confidential counseling for service members and military family members:  1-800-342-9647.

Focus on the Family offers faith-based counseling:  1-855-771-HELP (4357).

Read Full Post »

Technology is trying to make the world better, but it often makes me feel like a dinosaur.

One of the latest marvels out there is a soft, flexible, wristband that you wear 24 hours a day.  It is combined with an app that tracks how you sleep, move, and eat.  The “UP” by Jawbone then helps you use that information to “be your best.”  The concept is extremely impressive, especially to me, a guy who frequently falters in his exercise routine and does not get enough sleep.

Gadgets are often used as mirrors to show people the good, the bad, and the ugly things we do each day.  The “UP” is ultimately trying to improve the physical health of people by showing them a better way and giving daily reminders on what to change.  After learning about this new item, I immediately began to wonder, what technology or gadget is out there to improve spiritual health?  What electrical device could show people a better way and give daily reminders on how to improve their spiritual lives?  What technology, gadget, or electronic doodad would strengthen my walk with Christ?

I am a dinosaur, so responses were slow.  I instead turned to some familiar items that currently help people strengthen their faith.  I distinctly remembered a Marine I met at Camp Lemonnier.  He downloaded the entire Bible to a handheld device and used that for our Wednesday night study of Matthew’s gospel.  During this year’s annual training exercise, Soldiers were constantly asking for a “Military BibleStick.”  It is a digital audio player that is pre-loaded with a dramatized recording of the entire New Testament.  I handed out more sticks than Bibles this summer.  There was another Soldier who wanted to read the entire Bible in a year, so I showed him a website where he could tailor a reading plan to his schedule.

As people begin to use their new gadgets and electronic Christmas gifts in the new year, utilize technology so that you can improve your spiritual health.  Download your favorite translation of the Bible, add a prayer appointment to your electronic calendar, use Pandora and listen to your favorite Christian artist, find a website and sign up for a daily or weekly devotion.  Don’t worry.  Dinosaurs can jump into the mix as well.  It does not matter if you keep a journal on a note pad or an iPad, the focus should be on building your spiritual muscles in 2013.  Use technology in a way that will strengthen your faith and devotion in Christ.

Read Full Post »

President Obama signed an executive order directing federal agencies to expand suicide prevention strategies and improve access to mental health and substance abuse treatment for veterans, service members, and their families.

Citing an obligation to “build an integrated network of support capable of providing effective mental health services,” the order includes an array of directions for the Department  of Veterans Affairs, the Department of Health and Human Services, and other federal agencies.  Collaboration with community-based providers, including community mental health clinics and substance abuse treatment facilities, was specifically required, particularly for areas where the Department of Veterans Affairs has had challenges in providing timely access to services for veterans.  In addition, the Department of Veterans Affairs and the Department of Health and Human Services must expand the capacity of the Veterans Crisis Line by 50% and “ensure that any veteran identifying him or herself as being in crisis connects with a mental health professional or trained mental health worker within 24 hours.”

The Department of Veterans Affairs will also work with the Department of Defense to establish a national, 12-month suicide prevention campaign focused on connecting veterans to mental health services, officials reported.

To ensure veterans have access to these services, the executive order also calls on the VA and HHS to establish at least 15 pilot sites where VA can partner with local mental health providers. This initiative, officials said, will help ensure services are available in regions where VA has had trouble hiring or placing providers.

The order also directs VA and HHS to develop a plan to increase access to mental health care in rural communities.

The Veterans Crisis Line is a confidential hotline where veterans and family members can immediately connect with trained professionals during a time of crisis.  The toll-free hotline is 1-800-273-8255.

Read Full Post »

Indiana veterans find peace by sharing war stories in monthly meeting at Anderson church.

Read Full Post »

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.


Read Full Post »

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.

Read Full Post »

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).


Read Full Post »

Older Posts »

%d bloggers like this: