Jason Boon is coordinating minster of the Peace and Justice Support Network, a ministry of Mennonite Mission Network.
People and congregations who have used the “Returning Veterans, Returning Hope” Curriculum are asking, What do we do now?
While there isn’t a pattern or program to follow, here are some ideas on how your church can continue to learn more about the spiritual wounds of war and begin to take action.
- STAR Training at Eastern Mennonite University. Trauma underlies the difficulties many Veterans face after combat. STAR Trainings were the most helpful tools for me in understanding those difficulties and how to respond in healthy ways. BONUS: understanding trauma will give you insights into the human experience that may significantly change your outlook on life. It did for me.
- Continuing education on Veterans and Moral Injury. The Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School offers a ton of resources and educational opportunities, online and in person across the country. Stay connected with them to continue learning.
- In the same spirit of learning more, the Peace and Justice Support Network offers a 1.5 day workshop on Veterans and Moral Injury. We dig into the theology behind connecting with Veterans, explore Moral Injury in more detail and spend time identifying connections your church already has with veterans and how to build on them. Contact me, I’d love to come to your congregation.
- A good way to begin making relationships with Veterans in your community is to be in contact with your local Veterans for Peace Checking in to see how your church can offer support-offering meeting space or hosting events, for instance—can open the door to developing ties with Veterans. If you don’t have a Vets for Peace chapter where you are, look into volunteering at a nearby Veterans Administration facility. Or there maybe be another group to connect with in your community.
A common refrain in STAR Training is, “You make the path by walking.” It’s a new time for the church in understanding the spiritual impact of violence on veterans. What we do with this understanding is still evolving. There’s no one “right” destination.
We’re all on this journey — Mennonites and Veterans alike — and believe God will order our steps. We just have to be willing to take those steps, one at a time, as they appear.
What’s your next step?