Did you ever get surprised by a book? Well, surprised in a way that you didn’t anticipate? Veterans’ Day is around the corner, and my grandson is in the Army right now, so when I saw this book, Soldier Girls, The Battles of Three Women at Home and at War by Helen Thorp, I felt like it was a must read. Today women march alongside men in the military, and I thought I might get a better look at some of the things my grandson might be experiencing ,and this book opened my eyes to a reality I could only imagine.You must understand that this book is in no way a Christian book or about Christians. It is about real life in and after military service today. When I was teaching counseling, I encouraged my students to try to look at life through the eyes of their counselee rather than their own experience. Many times the person we are working with has a completely different story from our own, and we can better help them if we make some efforts to understand their stories and what got them where they are. So, if we are to minister to our military, a forgotten mission field I think, it is helpful to know something about their circumstances.
One thing that struck me as I read this book was how these soldiers coped with being so far from home and so close to death. It appears that sex and alcohol were the most frequently resorted to coping mechanisms . Furthermore, the immediacy of war and the isolation from family and most important, the absence of any real reason to behave otherwise make for drinking parties as the norm at the end of the day and the end of the week, even the end of the mission. And loneliness became an excuse to ‘hook-up,’ even for married soldiers.So why am I telling you this? Because we can do something about it! First we must put feet to our prayers. I am assuming you pray for your soldiers, probably mostly for their protection from the enemy, forgetting there is more than one enemy facing them. We must communicate with them, and once we have an address, we have a way to do that. So here is an address for injured soldiers here in the States. It is a place to begin.
A Recovering American Soldierc/o Walter Reed Army Medical Center
6900 Georgia Avenue
NW Washington, DC 20307-5001
You can send Christmas or Thanksgiving or any kind of card to that address, and the local command will see that it gets to the right soldier in the hospital. BUT, write in the card. Tell them a bit about yourself and ask them about their story. Even, enclose a stamped envelope with a blank piece of paper to facilitate a relationship. DON’T just enclose a tract. If you are going to send them one, write a note about how it might be of help to them.
If we want these men and women to live differently, we have to give them a reason. We must introduce them to the God who loves them, the one who is the author of hope. Tell them about the one who knows all about suffering and who can relate to them. And Jesus didn’t do anything to deserve the cross; he took it upon himself for our good, just as they became soldiers to protect our freedoms. Pray over the card or letter and think about what the recipient might be feeling, about what might help you, and make a difference. Sometimes God brings a ministry right to us, and maybe this one might be right for you…or pass it along. Maybe you know a shut-in who needs a reason to wake up every day, who needs a purpose, a way to serve, and this might be it.
PS, I have been really sick with severe bronchitis, so that’s why this is late, but I saw the doc again yesterday and am on some good meds, so I hope to get back at my regular routine.
Picture borrowed from http://www.rawa.org/