Tag Archives: military

Where Soldiers Find Peace

It’s a long way from the dusty battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to the crystalline waters of Lake Clark in the mountains of Alaska. But every summer since 2012, hundreds of current and former members of the military and their spouses make their way there through Operation Heal Our Patriots, a ministry of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse.

Many of these veterans arrive at Samaritan Lodge dealing with the aftermath of their service to our nation—wounded in their bodies, minds and spirits. The stress of learning to adjust to civilian life with their families and dealing with new physical limitations caused by injuries puts a strain on military couples. Many of them don’t make it. The ministry began as a way to reach out to these battle-weary soldiers and their spouses and help them refocus on building and maintaining strong marriages. Some couples, on the verge of divorce, find a new love for each other as they spend a week experiencing the natural beauty of Alaska and attending Bible-based marriage enrichment classes. Retired military chaplains are on staff to encourage and pray with attendees. Operation Heal Our Patriot marriage retreats often end with vow renewals for many of the couples, as well as baptisms for those who are either re-dedicating their lives to Jesus Christ or finding Him for the first time.

One couple who found respite during their time in Alaska is Army Staff Sergeant Juan Montealvo and his wife Tanya. A few days before Christmas in 2004, Montealvo was on a mission to deliver school supplies to Iraqi children in Mosul when a bomb planted by insurgents exploded near his vehicle. He survived that and several other explosions during his three combat tours to Iraq, and when he came home for good in 2010, Tanya noticed he wasn’t quite himself. Montealvo was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and went through physical and speech therapy. Tanya became his care-giver, and the strain of adapting to their new normal was something they never prepared themselves to handle.

When Tanya heard about Operation Heal Our Patriots, she believed it was an answer to their prayers and said, “Our souls, our spirits, our minds needed this to reset…I’m ready for a new beginning with my husband, walking along with Jesus.”

The ministry doesn’t end once these families leave Alaska, however. Ongoing outreach helps them to find a church or military chaplain in their local communities so they can develop a strong network of support. Reunions are also held at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in North Carolina so that participants can make new friendships and renew those they made in the Alaskan wilderness. All of this—including travel to Alaska—is free to the couples and is made possible by donations to Samaritan’s Purse/ Operation Heal Our Patriots.

This ministry is open to all current and former veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. Interested couples can go to the Samaritan’s Purse website to fill out an application. If you’d like to help send these brave American heroes to Lake Clark next summer, please consider making a donation on the website. What better way to say “thank you” to them this Veterans Day?

Wedding vow renewal ceremonies are common during Operation Heal Our Patriot's Alaskan retreats.- Courtesy SamaritansPurse.org

Wedding vow renewal ceremonies are common during Operation Heal Our Patriot’s Alaskan retreats.- Courtesy SamaritansPurse.org

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Scrapping Traditions

Vietnam Veterans Memorial Oct 15 2007 "These colors don't run"

How do you celebrate Veterans’ Day without those pesky displays of patriotism? Just ask the powers that be at Seattle Pacific University. In an effort to refrain from offending anyone…hmmm…it was announced that the Christian school would not have the presentation of the colors or the reciting of The Pledge of Allegiance during their chapel this week when they hold their Veterans’ Day remembrance.

After this news came out last Friday in the conservative student-run website The College Fix, the school—one day later—reversed their decision and now the Veterans’ Day service at the chapel will include The Pledge and presentation of the colors. The SPU Military & Veteran Support Group launched a Facebook campaign to get the word out about their school’s stance that “a few people” would be made “uncomfortable” if The Pledge were recited during a Christian service.

Of course, that makes no sense at all, given that our nation as founded began as a place where people (the Pilgrims) escaped to so that they could specifically practice Christianity and where they would be free to read the Bible without having to go through the Church of England (the King) and accept whatever interpretation came down from him. So, reciting The Pledge, especially during a Veterans’ Day service, would be entirely appropriate at a Christian university.

But that involves knowing history. Today’s college campuses are more interested in ridiculous speech codes and protecting students from “micro-aggressions”. Instead of being hotbeds of new and diverse thinking, most college campuses today are run by far-left professors and administrators who believe the only people that it’s okay to offend are Christians…and apparently the military. Many campuses today are filled with children in adult bodies who feel threatened and “uncomfortable” if they encounter beliefs that challenge their own.

The Constitution—when taught at all— is presented as a “living, breathing document” that should change with the times and be molded to the whims of whomever is in power. Students don’t learn any longer that our Constitution was meant to be a firm foundation of eternal truths upon which the strongest most influential nation in world history was built.

To even introduce the idea that displays of patriotism are inappropriate on Veterans’ Day—at a Christian university, no less—is a little ominous. People in a free society should expect that at some point, they may encounter something that will offend them. The chapel service at Seattle Pacific isn’t even mandatory for students, so anyone who thinks they would be offended by what happens there could just not show up.

But that would be too easy. It’s much better (in the minds of some) to strip away every patriotic vestige from true American holidays for everyone else…and give a slap in the face to those who served our country in the process.

 

 

 

Where Soldiers Find Peace

It’s a long way from the dusty battlefields of Iraq and Afghanistan to the crystalline waters of Lake Clark in the mountains of Alaska. But every summer since 2012, hundreds of current and former members of the military and their spouses make their way there through Operation Heal Our Patriots, a ministry of Franklin Graham’s Samaritan’s Purse.

Many of these veterans arrive at Samaritan Lodge dealing with the aftermath of their service to our nation—wounded in their bodies, minds and spirits. The stress of learning to adjust to civilian life with their families and dealing with new physical limitations caused by injuries puts a strain on military couples. Many of them don’t make it. The ministry began as a way to reach out to these battle-weary soldiers and their spouses and help them refocus on building and maintaining strong marriages. Some couples, on the verge of divorce, find a new love for each other as they spend a week experiencing the natural beauty of Alaska and attending Bible-based marriage enrichment classes. Retired military chaplains are on staff to encourage and pray with attendees. Operation Heal Our Patriot marriage retreats often end with vow renewals for many of the couples, as well as baptisms for those who are either re-dedicating their lives to Jesus Christ or finding Him for the first time.

One couple who found respite during their time in Alaska is Army Staff Sergeant Juan Montealvo and his wife Tanya. A few days before Christmas in 2004, Montealvo was on a mission to deliver school supplies to Iraqi children in Mosul when a bomb planted by insurgents exploded near his vehicle. He survived that and several other explosions during his three combat tours to Iraq, and when he came home for good in 2010, Tanya noticed he wasn’t quite himself. Montealvo was diagnosed with traumatic brain injury and went through physical and speech therapy. Tanya became his care-giver, and the strain of adapting to their new normal was something they never prepared themselves to handle.

When Tanya heard about Operation Heal Our Patriots, she believed it was an answer to their prayers and said, “Our souls, our spirits, our minds needed this to reset…I’m ready for a new beginning with my husband, walking along with Jesus.”

The ministry doesn’t end once these families leave Alaska, however. Ongoing outreach helps them to find a church or military chaplain in their local communities so they can develop a strong network of support. Reunions are also held at the Samaritan’s Purse headquarters in North Carolina so that participants can make new friendships and renew those they made in the Alaskan wilderness. All of this—including travel to Alaska—is free to the couples and is made possible by donations to Samaritan’s Purse/ Operation Heal Our Patriots.

This ministry is open to all current and former veterans who have served since September 11, 2001. Interested couples can go to the Samaritan’s Purse website to fill out an application. If you’d like to help send these brave American heroes to Lake Clark next summer, please consider making a donation on the website. What better way to say “thank you” to them this Veterans Day?

Wedding vow renewal ceremonies are common during Operation Heal Our Patriot's Alaskan retreats.-  Courtesy SamaritansPurse.org

Wedding vow renewal ceremonies are common during Operation Heal Our Patriot’s Alaskan retreats.- Courtesy SamaritansPurse.org

No Help For This Hero?

Is the case against a traumatized Marine imprisoned in Mexico being built upon a lie? That’s the claim this Memorial Day by the loved ones of Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, a young Marine reservist who was undergoing treatment for post-traumatic stress disorder in California.

Family members say that on March 31, Sgt. Tahmooressi, 25, made one wrong turn and accidentally crossed the border into Mexico in his car, loaded with all of his personal belongings—including three registered firearms. He had moved to San Diego to receive treatment for PTSD and still had most of his possessions in his vehicle because he was looking for a permanent place to live. According to his mother Jill, he was driving near the border in Tijuana and ended up in the customs lane, missing the place where he could have turned around before ending up in Mexico. Reports indicate Sgt. Tahmooressi may have missed the turn due to construction taking place on the border, and the sign marking the U-turn back to the U.S. was not as prominent as it had been before construction.

Jill Tahmooressi, who has been in contact with her son, told The Blaze last week that she fears his case is “doomed” since the head of Tijuana’s customs office spoke out against him. Alejandro Gonzalez claims Sgt. Tahmooressi drove across the border on purpose to receive medical attention and meet friends—something his mother calls a “flat-out lie”. She said, “There’s no reason why he would ever go down to Mexico for medical care, especially when they don’t even know how to treat foreign combat PTSD. They never send their military to fight foreign wars.” She said her son can still receive health care under her insurance (since he’s under 26), and through the VA.

Sgt. Tahmooressi was initially placed in La Mesa prison in Tijuana, which was the site of 2 uprisings in 2008 that resulted in the deaths of 21 inmates. His hands and feet were chained to a bed for a number of weeks; he was threatened with rape and death. He was recently transferred to El Hongo prison—considered less dangerous than La Mesa—but still houses some dangerous characters. His mother says his condition has improved since being transferred since he’s no longer shackled and is in a private cell, away from the general prison population. He is waiting for his first court appearance on Wednesday when the Mexican border guards who arrested him will testify.

The plight of this soldier is coming out as the scandals with VA hospitals around the country are coming to light, leaving anyone paying attention to wonder, “Is this the best we can do for our veterans?” Some lawmakers, including Rep. Duncan Hunter (R-CA) and Rep. Debbie Wasserman-Schultz (D-FL) have rallied around Sgt. Tahmooressi, calling on the State Department and the Marine Corps to get involved. Rep. Hunter, who is also a Marine veteran, pleaded his case to Marine Commandant Gen. James Amos in which he gave details of Sgt. Tahmooressi’s heroic actions while serving in Afghanistan. He also lambasted Secretary of State John Kerry last week on The Glenn Beck Program saying he didn’t believe Kerry “gives a damn”. Since that interview, the Los Angeles Times has reported that Kerry did “mention” the plight of the Marine reservist to Mexican authorities, but the details of that conversation have not been made public.

Meanwhile, Jill Tahmooressi remains hopeful that justice will be done for her son. She said, “I’m still very faithful and know God will help us out.”

**If you would like to sign the petition in support of Sgt. Tahmooressi, you may do so here.

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, 25, imprisoned in Mexico

Sgt. Andrew Tahmooressi, 25, imprisoned in Mexico

When Leaders Lead

Today is Veterans Day.  Some people may have this day off from work or from school, and as with any other holiday, retailers have found a way to make some extra money as we all (hopefully) take this day to thank those who serve—and have served— this great and very blessed nation.

Those currently serving in the armed forces need extra prayers these days.  It seems like their own government is preying on them rather than praying for them.  Their training and resources are being cut.  Those of the Christian faith are forbidden to share their faith with their fellow soldiers, and Obama’s war on the chaplains during the government shutdown was big news (on conservative news sites at least).  It’s ironic that the very people who are right now defending our rights to speak our minds are having their own rights curtailed.  They have to serve under a Commander in Chief who neither respects them, nor goes out of his way to boost their morale.  It was his administration who concocted the asinine motto, “leading from behind”.

It wasn’t always this way. There was a time when Commanders in Chief and other military leaders were men of honor…true patriots and people of faith who did hard things, even when it wasn’t popular.  Many of them led, not from behind, but from beside and even from below:  as in down on their knees, in prayer for those they were leading into battle, and for the wisdom they needed during turbulent times.  Here’s just a few, in their own words:

“The soldier, above all other men, is required to practice the greatest act of religious training—sacrifice.  In battle and in the face of danger and death, he discloses those divine attributes which his Maker gave when He created man in His own image.  No physical courage and no brute instinct can take the place of the Divine help which alone can sustain him.”- General Douglas Mac Arthur

“The fundamental basis of this nation’s laws was given to Moses on the Mount.  The fundamental basis of our Bill of Rights comes from the teachings we get from Exodus and Saint Matthew, from Isaiah and Saint Paul…if we don’t have a proper fundamental background, we will finally end up with a totalitarian government which does not believe in rights for anybody except the State!”-  Harry Truman, 33rd president

“Moral courage is the most valuable and usually the most absent characteristic in men.” – General George Patton

Peace fails when we forget what we stand for. It fails when we forget that our Republic is based on firm principles, principles that have real meaning, that with them, we are the last, best hope of man on Earth; without them, we’re little more than the crust of a continent. Peace also fails when we forget to bring to the bargaining table God’s first intellectual gift to man: common sense.” – Ronald Reagan, 40th president

Finally there was the Father of Our Country, President and General George Washington, who is portrayed in the famous painting in prayer at Valley Forge.  He said, “Let us with caution indulge the supposition that morality can be maintained without religion. Reason and experience both forbid us to expect that national morality can prevail in exclusion of religious principle.”

It may be time to pray for another George Washington, but until such time that a strong Commander in Chief is raised up to lead our dedicated armed forces…may they be safe in whatever situation they find themselves in at the moment, and may they return to their families very soon…and if you happen to be a veteran, thank you for your service!

A leader prays for his nation.

A leader prays for his nation.

My Dad in the Air Force in Korea in the early 1950's

My Dad in the Air Force in Korea in the early 1950’s