I have often thought how veterans could benefit from area churches and church people. I also believe that churches and their people could, in much the same way gain great benefit from veterans. The problem seems to be in getting these two needful and needed groups together.
As that important veteran leader, Jim Parola (of the Gardendale Farmers Market at the Gardendale Civic Center on Thursdays from 9 a.m. to 1 p.m.) and I have discussed, there have been Veteran/pastor programs held with very few of either group in attendance. That is a real shame for BOTH sides.
While there are some outstanding Veterans Administration chaplains, veterans in their home area, like North Jefferson County don’t seem to be a high priority group for many places of worship. As a result, most churches may not draw veterans into their services or congregations.
This is a column where you, the reader, could be of great significance. If your church is doing things for veterans, let me know! I will share your efforts with as many veterans as I can. If you are a veteran looking for a church, let me know! I will contact a lot of churches to be looking for you.
If you (church or veteran) don’t much care either way, let God know. He may be able to impact your hearts and minds to solve this very real problem!
There are some solid ways to help veterans that churches could use right now!
- Pray for veterans, church members in the military and the chaplains who minister to them;
- Encourage emotionally and spiritually healthy church members to take time to listen to the veterans and military members in our community;
- Ask those church members who have a military background (even as veterans) to seek out those who might want some church interaction;
- Find ways to recognize Veterans Day, Memorial Day and Independence Day in your churches and in church activities;
- Realize that many veterans and military members are often lonely and isolated. Sounds like a good church role, to me!
- Communicate with the Veterans Administration and/or veterans groups (Veterans of Foreign Wars, Disabled American Veterans, Vietnam Veterans of America, the American Legion and others) to discover what your church could do;
- Help families of deployed service members as any church should do;
- Encourage your church to see the veteran and the church as a logical family connection;
- Have training for your pastor and other church leaders in understanding and dealing with veteran/veteran family issues.
These are but a very few of the obvious ways that your church could help your area veterans. Contact me at the NJN if you want to deal with any of these ideas or have others to share!
Tomorrow (Thursday, Aug. 1) will be the next Veterans Information Table at the Farmers Market. Benny Reeves, Zach Burton and others will be there to talk with, for and about veterans—9 a.m. – 1 p.m.
May God bless our veterans, our military members, their families, and our churches and most of all may God bless you!
Gerald “Joe” Stahlkuppe is a combat Army veteran of the Vietnam War. An ordained clergyman, public speaker and author of several books, he lives with his wife in Gardendale.
Questions or veterans issues you would like to see addressed in the column can be directed to Stahlkuppe at P.O. Box 849, Gardendale, AL 35071 or emailed to firstname.lastname@example.org.