We are a nation ripped apart by a contentious election that has affirmed a polarizing national divide. The election results in litigation and the pandemic raging, many are hurting. Today is Veteran’s Day. What can we learn from Jesus and our Veterans about finding healing?
Veteran’s Stories of Healing
Three Stories from the Wounded Warriors website give us a foundation for understanding what Jesus said about healing.
As Manny Colón saw his dream of a lifelong military career in the United States Army come to an unexpected halt, he slowly became entangled in a nightmare of bitterness and depression. There were feelings of rage and estrangement that Manny says he simply couldn’t explain to himself.
“I medically retired from the Army, not by choice,” says Manny. “When you transition out of the military, you can experience some dark moments confined within the four walls of your home. The Army was my team for 20 years. I missed being a part of a team, but I didn’t know how to find another one.”
Like many warriors, Manny often chooses to downplay his injuries. He will tell you it’s all part of the job, the mission he signed up for in life.
“I endured numerous attacks like many warriors. There was head trauma, but I stayed on and did my job. When the bumps on my head got so swollen that my helmet didn’t fit, I knew something was terribly wrong, and I had to have it checked out.”
Doctors diagnosed Manny with stage IV follicular lymphoma, a cancer diagnosis with a low survival rate.
“They found it in my head, in my neck, my bone marrow, my abdominal layer – pretty much everywhere. That explained what I was going through physically. Later, I was diagnosed with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD), which explained why I was going through such dark emotions. Deep inside I knew I needed to have that team concept in my life again.”
Manny says he found that new team when he discovered Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).
Chad Brumpton’s life changed forever when his tank rolled directly over a powerful IED buried in the dirt. The blast breached the bottom of the tank, thrusting Chad’s head into the hatch and tearing apart his legs.
Desperate to get back to a normal life, he deliberately shortened what should have been an 18-month recovery to about seven months. He medically retired from the Marines and immediately started a job as a probation officer.
At first, Chad thought he achieved his goal of returning to a normal life. But it came with a price.
“It wasn’t a good quality of life,” Chad acknowledges. “My left foot didn’t really work; there was so much nerve damage. There was constant bone-on-bone contact. I had to take heavy narcotics just to get out of bed. It affected not just my health, but my post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).”
Chad finally faced reality in 2008 and had his legs amputated below the knee. The decision was a year in the making, but it would eventually allow him to live with less pain and without the prescription drugs that clouded his mind. His old life was effectively over, but instead of mourning, he viewed it as a celebration.
The last piece of Chad’s recovery was to gain control over his PTSD through the aid of Wounded Warrior Project® (WWP).
“The biggest thing [about being involved with WWP] has been getting connected with others, seeing people who have been where I’ve been, and who have gone through some of the same things. Telling my story helps me accept what has happened and helps me thrive despite my PTSD,” Chad says.
Mentoring other warriors has also helped Chad acclimate to his new life.
When it got to the point where Jessica Coulter could not buy groceries for herself and two sons, she knew it was time to ask for help.
Until then, Jessica didn’t want to look for a handout. She was an Air Force veteran but was never wounded in combat, so she didn’t feel worthy of turning to the Veterans Affairs hospital.
But when a VA social worker heard her story –a single mother, unable to find a steady job dealing with stress and anxiety – she was handed a Wal-Mart gift card from Wounded Warrior Project (WWP) to help buy food.
“I couldn’t believe it,” she says. “I had no money, no child support and here they were wanting to help me.”
The help from the WWP in 2010 began with a gift card, but it grew into a way for Jessica to understand herself and her struggles. It helped her realize how a sexual assault in 2000 that she never reported was really affecting her daily life.
“That was the first time I heard other stories of women who were sexually assaulted and didn’t get help,” she says. “I wasn’t alone.”
Through talking with fellow veterans and therapists, Jessica realized the last decade of struggles, from not being able to hold a job, to anxiety, to money problems – all were related to the undiagnosed post-traumatic stress of her assault.
Healing with Jesus
News about him spread all over Syria, and people brought to him all who were ill with various diseases, those suffering severe pain, the demon-possessed, those having seizures, and the paralyzed; and he healed them” (Matt. 4:24).
Jesus was known as a healer. It was the primary reason the crowds gathered to hear him. Here are three ways Jesus affirms the way the Veteran’s experienced healing.
1. Speak Up.
Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you” (Matt. 7:7).
We have to name our pain. It’s never easy to admit that pain is getting the best of us. Most of us are afraid to admit our weaknesses.
Each of the Veteran heroes came to a moment when the pain was greater than their fears. At that moment, they asked for help. They named their pain.
It’s the vital first step toward healing.
2. Huddle Up.
All the believers were together and had everything in common” (Acts 2:44).
We have to find a safe community for support.
This was the second step for each Veteran. They understood the power of community when they were in the Armed Services.
After losing that community, they had to rediscover the power of the community when things went bad.
Pain has a way of isolating us, but we weren’t built to do it alone. Find a safe place where you can share your pain.
3. Ante Up.
In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:35).
We have to invest in the pain of others. We have to share our pain in order to help others with their pain.
A common thread to each Veteran was that once on the road to recovery, they reached out to help others.
It’s only in giving away that which you have learned, that the healing process never stalls.
I pray God will bringing healing to your soul during these difficult days!