(Posted: Sept. 9, 2013)
Given the significant participation and discussion by attendees at the July 18, 2013 IMR Webinar on “Military Friendly Churches,” I wanted to provide you with a comprehensive list of the best practices, questions, and recommendations provided by participants. If you were unable to attend the Webinar, you can access it on the Institute for Military Resilience (IMR) website at www.LUOnline.com/IMRWebinars.
Prayerfully, this follow-up BLOG will prove to be a good resource and provide a cross leveling of best practices, aimed at empowering churches across America to provide abundant love, spiritual helps, and tangible support to our nation’s military, military families, and veterans. Parenthetical comments by Bob Dees have been inserted in italic below. Here we go…
Note: we will seek to address some of these questions in greater depth in future webinars
This sounds like a creative idea, entirely dependent upon the trust and confidence with local military organization or service organizations which afford access to such events. Times Square Church in New York City did something such as this, sponsoring a worship service on behalf of the military on the deck of the mothballed aircraft carrier INTREPID in NYC Harbor. They then distributed thousands of copies to military members worldwide.
Hard to characterize. Both of these conditions, one psychological and one physiological, present symptoms which often incur lack of motivation, drug dependency, poor emotional regulation, lack of clarity or longevity regarding critical tasks related to balanced living and long term employability, et al. All of these challenges can result in homelessness. In addition, lack of a sufficient support structure for the transitioning veteran often leaves them to fend for themselves on the streets, where they often find a subculture with which they can identify.
The trends indicate increasing percentages of homeless veterans are in the younger age group.
No, not within the age group that generally characterizes the majority of military members. However, prescription drug abuse in the military is an alarming trend. Many of our wounded warriors have access to large quantities of prescription drugs which become collateral for trading with others, or even selling in black market fashion. Defense and Veterans Affairs officials are working to stem this trend.
The causes of the unacceptably high military divorce rate are myriad. With long and repeated deployments as a given, other equally erosive factors include infidelity, serious financial challenges, combat trauma (mental or physical) placing great demands on the primary caregiver and other family members, and secondary trauma in wives and children. Apart from anything related to military tempo, our military is a reflection of our culture at large. Disregard for traditional marriage and an ethic of divorce in the civilian population influences military divorce rates as well. The reality is that God’s blueprint for marriage and His guidelines for relational health are the only antidote to the challenges of military service and cultural erosion.
All of the Services have Transition Programs for their departing service members. This does not include retraining $ before or after they leave the Service. As well, there are a number of programs to help veterans transition. For Webinar #6 on November 7, we will discuss Veterans employment, including a number of private programs that address Veterans unemployment issues.
Similar to above, we will discuss employment opportunities for Veterans on November 7 webinar.
Suggest the following: Address with leadership and missions representatives. Identify a military advocate who could drive the program; it may be YOU! Inventory church strengths to determine what areas of excellence can be applied intentionally to ministering to the military. Identify military person (and family members) within the church, and in the locale of the church (including military facilities, academic institutions with military students, Veterans Service Organization, any community veterans assistance initiatives, and VA/Vet Centers in the locale.
DVA has a large inventory of chaplains, many of whom provide true spiritual care, who service their facilities. There are also DVA counselors and social workers who possess a Christian world view. As well, DVA has an office which is an extension of successive Presidential faith-based initiative, although the greatest emphasis of late has been on community organizing. Institutionally, DVA does not strongly promote or support faith-based programs. Despite these constraints, the needs within the Veteran community provide many opportunities for spiritual healing ministries. Times Square Church, for instance, teams with three VA hospitals within the tri-state area to include a solid spiritual focus.
Clearly God can allow something like this to prosper for a season, a matter of God’s leading according to overall circumstances. That said, I would opt for a chapel community that already exists or a church/church plant in the civilian sector. This avoids the military persons from having to “administer” the church program, a difficult task in light of the challenges of military life. As well, integration of military and civilian members and families has many relational advantages in both directions. Perhaps an alternative to your question would be to form a small group of couples/families with similar life situations (such as the military), and journey together in Bible study, prayer, and fellowship while experiencing the benefits of “church” in a more conventional setting.
This seems to fall in the category of “earning the right to be heard.” Providing value add to the overall task force mission, developing close relationships with leadership and veteran students, and wisely demonstrating the relevance of faith-based approaches (such as in the Resilient Warriors curriculum, www.ResilienceTrilogy.com) will prayerfully build the trust and confidence needed to further the Gospel in this secular setting.
I do not know of any accrediting bodies which certify institutions in these areas, although this may occur with greater emphasis upon military care programs in coming years. Perhaps some of our readers can provide additional information on this matter.
That said, Liberty University has approved Certificate programs for “Care and Counsel of Military Personnel” at the undergraduate and graduate levels. These certificates assist with developing a competitive resume, as well as providing focused expertise for vocational or Avocational endeavors. For more information, see www.LUOnline.com/IMR, the Institute for Military Resilience (IMR) website.
Will work this one.
Webinar #1 addressed this in broad terms. You may want to listen to that. We will have a 2014 Webinar that dives deeper.
It is our prayer at Liberty University that the activities of the Institute for Military Resilience, including these webinars, truly assist you in achieving your full God-given potential as a student and beyond. As well, we pray that military counselors and caregivers will be better equipped to provide expert care and counsel to the military population they serve. To God Be the Glory!
Director, Liberty University Institute for Military Resilience
PS- We hope to see you at the next IMR Webinar on September 19 concerning “Military Friendly Campuses.” How to be one? How to find one? See you then! Stay tuned to the IMR website for registration information, www.Liberty.edu/IMRWebinars.