VET CHURCH- THE MISSION
VET CHURCH is about caring for folks who feel estranged from the physical church. PTSD, Moral Injury, Anger, Chronic Pain and Trust Issues tend to discourage folks from getting up, dressing up and attending any event with more than one or two people involved. I personally know something about not wanting to attend a crowded Church. It took a long time and a lot of love for me to start attending again.
Examining where I was and where I am now compelled me to start VET CHURCH. When I was an Army Chaplain I was an extension of the Church to the members of the Church who had joined the Military. Army Chaplains are not missionaries. They are Spiritual Advisors who are provided by the Church and the Commanders to care for and help Soldiers. As a Veteran I found that dozens of Soldiers, Marines, Airmen, Sailors and other Government Retirees still refer to me as Chaplain.
I was once sent from the Church to the military. Now I have the opportunity to go from the Veteran Community back to the Church. It’s not like I ever left the Church and now I am returning. It’s more like I am a Veteran and I am looking around wondering where do I belong.
When I did the interview with the Washington Post (www.retiredarmychaplain.com/media) and basically said that I was all alone and estranged form the Church, the Reverend John Deckenenback the long time conference minister of the Central Atlantic Conference of the United Church of Christ made it explicitly clear that I was still an authorized minister of the UCC. I wasn’t sure what that meant. Time went by as it tends to do and I kept singing, playing music and traveling around to visit other Veterans.
Somewhere in there VET CHURCH was born. The more stuff I did with VET CHURCH the more I became aware that I was part of a healthy cycle in which many other veterans were also involved. Leaving the military (especially as medically retired) had with it the attachment of a great deal of grief, but I still believed in God, and I perceived that God was “Still Speaking.” The music empowered me to lament my loss, to hope for something better and to observe what God was doing. VET CHURCH came out of the belief that others were doing the same thing.
Then it became clear that this cycle is important. I want to share the process with others. I want to empower others to experience God in their own personal way.
Here are some ways that you can help and stay personally involved.
1. Join VET CHURCH and get your friends to join too.