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Marching Home

August 18, 2013

Soldier holding his baby daughter on return from deployment in Iraq, Photo by Martin Greeson, Source US Army (ID 070302-A-2403G-005), (PD-USGov-Military-Army)

“When Johnny comes marching home again,
Hurrah! Hurrah!
We’ll give him a hearty welcome then
Hurrah! Hurrah!”

– When Johnny Comes Marching Home

With the Iraq War officially ended and the United States involvement in the Afghan Civil War winding down, our troops are returning home in large numbers.

Having handled both the violence of war and the repeated loss of friends, our marines, soldiers, and airmen must now face the obstacles posed by ordinary life.  This means dialing back on their razor sharp instinct for self-preservation, and resuming the humdrum routines of the everyday world.

For a great many veterans, it will, also, mean dealing with survivor’s guilt and the nightmares, flashbacks, insomnia, depression, family and employment problems often characterizing Post Traumatic Stress Disorder.

This is no small task for warriors trained to assess situations in an instant and act appropriately, at peril of their lives.  But experience responding to danger and overcoming chaos uniquely suits these capable men and women for service and rescue work.

Across the country, veterans groups are forming which provide disaster relief, teach, build homes, assist with farming, and take on other tasks for their communities and their more seriously wounded comrades. Two such groups are the Mission Continues and Team Rubicon.  Although these groups strive to provide emotional, psychological, and temporary financial support to their members, they do not in any sense coddle these men and women. The slogan of the Mission Continues is, “It’s not a charity, it’s a challenge.”

What the work does for veterans is restore a sense of purpose, while easing them back into civilian life.  Veterans self-help groups, in fact, want to see the GI Bill amended to allow for a year of public service. They contend the benefit would greatly outweigh the cost, producing “citizen leaders” in the process.

The motto of the Veterans Administration is a phrase drawn from Abraham Lincoln’s Second Inaugural Address: “To care for him who shall have borne the battle and for his widow and his orphan…” This is entirely in accord with the many biblical admonitions to care for the fatherless and widow.

These, however, were God’s instructions to Joshua and his best fighters, as the Israelites prepared to enter the Promised Land:

“ ‘The Lord your God is giving you rest and is giving you this land.’  Your wives, your little ones, and your livestock shall remain…on this side of the Jordan. But you shall pass before your brethren armed, all your mighty men of valor, and help them, until the Lord has given your brethren rest, as He gave you…” (Joshua 1: 13-15).


From → Christian, Community

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