DAWNINGS: The sacred duty of caring for our veterans

By Rev. Dr. Dawn Darwin Weaks

Pastor, Connection Christian Church

Many people are talking about how divided our country is these days. That’s why it is imperative to find common ground with our fellow citizens. We can help our nation if we focus on what we all hold dear. And nothing should be more universally cherished in our country than our veterans. Surely we can agree that our duty to care for them is at the epitome of our shared values.

As a pastor, I have prayed for men and women as they deployed for active military service. And I have welcomed most, but not all, of them home. I have found that blessing people to go is far more simple than caring for them upon their return. Whether it was a young soldier returning from Afghanistan or an old veteran seeking solace upon his death bed, every person in active military service I know has confirmed: war is hell. And you don’t escape hell without scars.

Veterans deserve and need our ongoing support in both policy making and personal relationships. In our community, as Veterans Days come and go and you see a service member in uniform, remember that saying “thank you for your service” is a starting point, but not an ending point. If you are brave, maybe try saying: “If you are willing, I would love to hear more about your experience.” And then, be ready to really listen.

Whatever your political persuasion, would you join me in this prayer for our veterans?

O God, we give you thanks today for our nation’s veterans. We are grateful to all who have served, whether in peacetime or in conflict. But this weekend we especially remember those who have been tempered by fire, those who continue to bear wounds of the body or the spirit as a result of what they endured. Some lie in our veterans’ hospitals or struggle for recovery in rehabilitation centers; they suffer from post-traumatic stress; they yearn for peace in their souls. Dear God, we ask you to heal their wounds, and to give them peace within so they may return fully to their families and to society. May we insist on good jobs, healthcare, and support for them and their families. We thank you, God, for all of our country’s veterans —those of past generations, and those who continue to earn this title today. May we never forget what we have asked of them and what they have given in return. Strengthen our resolve to build a world modeled on your realm, where war will be pursued no more, neither abroad, nor at home. Amen.