It’s not uncommon for a soldier to tell someone their job and hear, “Aren’t you glad the war is over?” But units are still deploying, troops are still dying, and many feel like Americans have forgotten about them.
While they don’t look for recognition on an individual level, men and women in uniform deserve our support simply because they are an all-volunteer force, many of whom chose to enlist during a time of active war on two fronts.
“Blessed be Yahweh, my rock, who trains my hands for war, and my fingers for battle; He is my steadfast love and my fortress, my stronghold and my deliverer, my shield and He in whom I take refuge, who subdues peoples under me.” Psalm 144:1-2 (ESV)
Often people don’t reach out to our troops, not for a lack of desire, but for a lack of direction. So here are some practical ways to show support for the members of the United States military, this week and all year:
– Build relationships with the military community. Oklahoma City, Lawton, Altus and Enid all have installations with thousands of military families around them. Advertise your Fall Festival or Vacation Bible School in the base periodicals. Contact post Spouse Clubs so they can connect your youth group with families who need yard work, babysitters or home maintenance.
– Send care packages to deployed service members. It doesn’t have to be gifts or food. Even some kids’ drawings and a board game can brighten up a Marine’s day. If no one in your congregation has a deployed loved one, find base Facebook pages, like Tinker Air Force Base, and offer to provide Family Readiness Groups (FRGs) with ready-made packages or letters and money for postage. Don’t ask for a mailing address, they can’t give them out due to Operational Security concerns.
– Reach out to Wounded Warrior and Survivor families. Less than two months ago, Lawton lost a native son in Afghanistan, who left behind a wife and two children. Yesterday will be the three-year Gold Star anniversary of a young man I went to church with in Del City. Connect with on-post chapels to learn how to meet those families’ specific needs.
– Foster pets for deployed servicemembers. Many single airmen get pets while they are stateside, but have to find temporary homes for those animals when they deploy. Often those pets are victims of abuse in scams to collect money from deployed airmen desperate for dog sitters. Post listings online and in base periodicals of safe temporary homes for their pets.
– Remember the service members within your congregations. PLEASE don’t ask soldiers to stand for applause on Memorial Day Sunday. That weekend is dedicated to honoring their fallen battle buddies, and many fight cases of Survivor’s Guilt. Forcing them into the spotlight that weekend is often a painful reminder that they are able to be with their friends while their fallen comrades can’t. Recognize and pray over soldiers as they deploy, not on a specific holiday, and remember them in prayer while they are gone.
Above all, never stop praying for our men and women in uniform and their families. Pray for their physical, emotional and psychological protection. Pray for the well-being of the families of deployed troops. Pray for the ministries of military chaplains and for protection over military marriages. Pray for the families who have lost loved ones in the line of duty. And thank God on their behalf that one day wars will cease and all of God’s creation will live in true peace.