“Soldiers are returning home with emotional and spiritual wounds that are harder to identify and more difficult to treat,” McBride said.
She said both the soldier and his or her family members may also suffer what she calls spiritual injuries such as questioning their faith, hopelessness and guilt.
McBride said faith-based organizations can play an important role in the spiritual and emotional healing of these military members and their families.
She said churches can hold a ministry event to educate the congregation about the needs of the military, and they can welcome and embrace military members and their families in the congregation. She said other ideas to provide support include hosting a welcome home event for soldiers and their families, coordinating a group to make special items for deploying soldiers and adopting a unit and donating items for deploying soldiers.
Another faith-based initiative
The archdiocese is not alone in reaching out to military members and their families.
Robin Jones, director of the state Office of Faith-Based and Community Initiatives, said her office also has teamed with Army OneSource, along with the Oklahoma National Guard, to recruit people in the community to help military families. She said the project is particularly seeking people from churches.
Jones said the individuals will be placed on regional resource teams that will be formed to provide resources and community connections to help veterans, military members and their families access services in their area.
“Our office is helping them connect with who is out there — sort of casting the net,” she said.
Jones said out of nine states with soldiers returning from deployment, more than 3,300 are returning to Oklahoma.
“That's nearly as many returning to Oklahoma as the other eight states combined,” she said.
“Our citizens have the privilege and responsibility to help honor and serve these returning soldiers and their families. These regional resource teams offer a great opportunity to help in a community setting.”