God’s Care to Veterans and Their Families
Setting Politics Aside
The 2008 Greater Milwaukee Synod took action to establish a task force for Care to Military and their families by passing resolution SC08.06.07. Resolution #4 initiated Synod support for congregations to help returning combat veterans reintegrate into their communities. Some of the “Whereases” of the resolution included ideas like welcoming the stranger and pointing out the obvious reality of war with Iraq and Afghanistan. It noted that thousands of residents were deployed from around the state and anticipated future needs of combat veterans with an eye toward healing. Lastly it emphasized that the church’s responsibility is to do a better job of caring for veterans than it had done in the past. The “Whereases” led to the following: The resolve to pray diligently for an end to the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan; to encourage leaders of the church to prepare themselves for this particular ministry, to support those in active military service, to provide appropriate counseling resources; to support not just veterans but also their families; to provide and participate in education and workshops, to develop resources for congregations to address these particular ministries and to advocate for health care benefits for returning vets.
This web page is established to try to help with this process. It will primarily be a place of central resources for persons and services, designed to set politics aside and address the real needs of those who serve and their families.
The Synod Task Force for Care to Military Families
Care to military families task force contacts
The Rev. Pres Hoffman
St. John’s Lutheran Church, West Milwaukee
The Rev. Michael Fazio
Whitnall Park Lutheran Church, Hales Corners
Mr. Buzz Althoen
Peace and Justice Committee
Welcome Them Home – Help Them Heal
Pastoral care and ministry with service members returning from war
Leaders of at least five Greater Milwaukee Congregations are using this book in their ministry to vets and families. All have highly recommended it. Thanks to our friends at the Minneapolis Area Synod, Chapter 6: “The Churches Role #3” can be accessed here. -GMS Care to Military Families Task Force
From Welcome Them Home:
No two veterans have the same war experience, nor, upon returning from war, do they face exactly the same reintegration challenges. Likewise, veterans heal and recover in their own ways and along their own timelines.
Caregivers who understand the healing power of story can offer hope. Pastors who understand the dynamics of forgiveness and reconciliation, spiritual direction, and confessional dialogue can greatly assist veterans in their quest for peace and reconciliation. Parish nurses who gain an understanding of the health issues facing returning veterans can provide preliminary health care screenings, locate treatment resources, and advocate for veterans and their families when they receive substandard medical care.
Working together, compassionate, knowledgeable, and skilled caregivers, friends, and professionals can give veterans life-saving and life-giving care and support.
John Sippola, Chaplain, LTC, ret., MDiv
Amy Blumenshine, MSW, MA
Donald A Tubesing, PhD, MDiv
Valerie Yancey, PhD, RN
A “Successful” Homefront Ministry
- Clergy support
- Involved and organized “committee” or group
- Commitment to Families of Veterans as well as Veterans
- Willingness to recognize readjustment as an ongoing issue
- Plan for Recognizing Vets in Congregation
- Plans/Activities for Supporting Families
- Willingness to answer questions of “why?”
- Why is readjustment so hard (military as institution dedicated to killing vs. culture of peace/cooperation – change created in participants)
- Why should “my” congregation be involved? (Support for families in “our” community)
- Commitment to ongoing learning from and teaching of other congregations, veterans, etc.
Things to Do:
- Ask for self identification of Veterans
- Plan recognition of Veterans
- Plan support activities for families
- Communicate openness to needs of families of veterans
- Participate in other activities (“operation paperback”, etc)
- Remember to set aside politics
Links & resources:
- Wisconsin National Guard
- U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs
- Wisconsin Department of Veterans Affairs
- Veterans Service Offices by County
- Mental Health / Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- Lutheran Social Services of Wisconsin
- Women Veterans Services of Wisconsin
- Catholic Charities
- Jewish Family Services of Milwaukee
- Wisconsin Department of Children and Families
- Tricare Military Insurance
- Wisconsin Emergency Crisis Hotlines and Helplines
- Military OneSource
- Congregational Support for Federal Ministries
- Assisted Living Benefits for Veterans
Other helpful links & articles:
- “Returning for the War Zone: A Guide for Families of Military Members” by The National Center for Post Traumatic Stress Disorder
- The National Veterans Foundation provides phone assistance at 1-888-777-4443 from 9 AM to 9 PM PST and offers counseling, referrals, and information.
- Point Man International Ministries works with vets and seeks to provide small group support for vets based on Christian principles.
- Artists for The Humanities has a project called “Return and Recovery” and is seeking to work with vets and their families. This group is based in Appleton.