Monday, May 30, 2016

Military Chaplain Shaken by War

Over the years as a Chaplain trained to work with responders instead of those they help, I can tell you that it is a struggle for many of us to reach the point where we ask for help when we need it.

You would think that would be so easy since we know so many others doing the work we do. We usually have an Army behind us to turn to when it gets to be too much yet those I turn to know I am either burnt out or in crisis myself if I call them. It took a long time for me to be able to do that. After all, I am the caretaker of others.

What example would I portray to them if they saw me falling apart? That is what it took years to understand. It tells them I am just as human as they are. Since there is nothing wrong with them needing help from me, there is nothing wrong with me needing help from others.

I am unbroken now after being shattered many times. The thing is, there is no limit to the amount of healing or the number of times it is required. I have built up scars and each one reminds me of how hard it has been before but I got through it because I had help to recover from all of it.

My scars are not from combat but fighting the good fight for those who did what few others have dared to do.

Here is a great article on what Military Chaplains can go through.
What happens when the military chaplain is shaken by war
The Washington Post
Michelle Boorstein
May 29, 2016
“The chaplain is supposed to be the one that is unbroken,” Pantlitz said. “When soldiers see a chaplain is broken, they feel it’s okay for them to be broken, too. Other soldiers — okay. But a man or woman of God is not supposed to be broken.”
The pre-war Pastor Matthew Williams had gone to seminary, was ordained and thought he understood why people suffer. “God allows suffering because this world is temporary,” is how he would have put it.

Then came two deployments as an Army chaplain, one to Afghanistan and one to Iraq. Williams spent a year in an Afghanistan morgue unzipping body bags and “seeing your friends’ faces all blown apart.” He watched as most of the marriages he officiated for fellow soldiers fell apart. He felt the terror of being the only soldier who wasn’t armed when the mortars dropped and bullets flew.

This Memorial Day weekend, Williams is no longer an active-duty military chaplain nor a United Church of Christ minister. He is a guitar player on disability whose outlook on God, religion and suffering was transformed by post-traumatic stress.

The 5,000 active-duty men and women often called “Chaps” are the ones soldiers seek at all hours, under strict confidentiality, to share their darkest acts, doubts and fears — even the suicidal thoughts that could end their military careers. And yet chaplains experience post-traumatic stress, too, while carrying out their unique mission to shore up others.
read more here

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