A note from the President of US Army Chaplain Corps Regimental Association
Dear Chaplain Family,
I have been involved as founding co-director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School in Fort Worth Texas. We do research and training on Moral Injury after War under a $650.000 grant from the Lilly Foundation. Last week Rita Nakashima Brock, my founding co-director and I did a workshop at Union Theological Seminary, near Riverside Church and Columbia University Teachers College (121st and Broadway) in New York City. We had sixty-two attendees for various communities concerned about our returning veterans from Iraq and Afghanistan. It was a wonderful, emotional and healing time for veterans and those who care for them in many different programs. We had many clinical professional from the VA; reserve and active duty chaplains; representatives of religious communities wanting to help veterans; academicians from Universities and Seminaries; and Non-Governmental Organizations pledged to help veteran coming home from war; and mental health professionals. We are grateful for the support for the continuing education department of Union Theological Seminary for organizing and sponsoring this seminar.
Some of the outstanding results of this and other seminars we have provided in our effort to educate the public on Moral Injury are these:
- Moral Injury after War resonates intuitively with people who attend our seminars. People acknowledge that going to war has moral consequences for those who participate and not only those who experience combat.
- People seem willing to help our veterans’ transition from the closed community (the total Institutional society) to the civilian community. One Maine Captain said “War is not hell; it is the portal to hell, coming home is hell.”
- The institution of the Military Chaplaincy, with the protection of privileged communication, coupled with the fear of the mental health care in the military to stigmatize, makes our veterans seek out persons of high moral values, empathic understanding, non-judgmental warmth and positive regard for the veterans as worthy of care and respect. I salute all our active duty and active reserves for creating this trust in our veterans.
- That our religious institutions and employers who value their work force and not as instruments for capital gain are the institutions most capable of bringing our veterans all the way home; integrated, valued and healed combatants from the horror of war.
- The opportunity of the religious communities to once again have a voice in the care and cure of the soul – a holistic, coordinated treatment for our veterans.
Rita and I conducted a worship service in the historic Judson Memorial Church on Sunday using John 5: 1-15 with me focusing on Jesus question “Do you want to be made well?” and the man’s response, “I have no one to help me so I never make it in first when the water is stirred.” Rita focused on the fact that no one had helped this man for a long time and the work she has done at San Quinton. It was a wonderful worship experience.
We walked to the monument at ground zero, impressive and humbling. I had not been to that site, since I represented the United States of America at a United Nations Prayer for Peace International Clergy Day of Prayer, held ten days after 9-11. The mood at the memorial was sober, solemn, respectful, but tears were still being shed and broken hearts for lost family and friends was still evident. But, what I felt most was the sense of vulnerability. “When the wrong seems oft so strong, God is still of rock and stronghold.
I do not know if we as a corps of chaplains have any deep appreciation of our impact in the lives of the people and the nation we serve. God bless you all and thank you for your servant leadership in our Army, as Chaplains, Chaplain Assistance, and Religious educators.
CH (Col) Herman Keizer, Jr. US Army retired.