Pastoral care for veterans and their families

Helping returning veterans reenter civilian life has always been a challenge. It’s particularly so for veterans (and their families) these days, who might see might see multiple deployments and repeated cycles of immersion into battle and then return home for training and re-equipping.

A congregation at St. Timothy’s Episcopal Church in Cincinnati is becoming involved in a ministry called “B.O.O.T.S.” or the Benevolent Order of Those Serving, as a way of supporting veterans making the transition from battle to peace.

According to an article in

“‘You get so used to fear and leading troops,’ said Jeffcott, who is a Gunner’s Mate 2nd Class. ‘(Troops) are expected immediately to be the way they were before.’

Jeffcott said he was struggling with returning from war and turned to Rev. Roger Greene of St. Timothy’s for help.

Greene said when Jeffcott came to him last summer, he discovered that there was no coordinated effort for reintegration.

‘In a situation where people have very different perspectives on this war, this was something they could do together,’ Greene said. ‘Everyone wants to respond to the things these people are going through, whether they agree with the (war) effort or not.’

Both Greene and Jeffcott agree the support from the parish for this ministry was extraordinary. More than 50 members immediately signed up to help, including veterans from the Vietnam and Korean wars.

The biggest concern for troops when they are deployed is their families, Jeffcott said. When he left for Iraq in August 2006, his wife, Julie, was left to care for a teenage son and triplets.

[…]’We try to concentrate on keeping the family structure strong to ease reintegration,’ Jeffcott said.

The ministry also sends phone cards to the troops and has helped soldiers make free videograms.

Rev. Greene said the ministry is willing to help ‘anyone, anywhere, anytime,’ and the challenge is making the services known.”

The article contains additional information about how the congregation was able to use their program to support not only troops from the area, but even their own parishioners as they were deployed.

Read the full article here.

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