This book resolves to address several situations that our American soldiers face in their goal of normalcy in their postdeployment futures. In seeking to assist our veterans in reconnecting with their culture, this book begins with the principle that the first reconnection must contain a spiritual or faith component. This book will address many of the issues the returning veterans face. The designed purpose is to establish a growing and deepening relationship with God, family, and fellow believers. The end goal will be to bring a wholeness of life to each veteran-spiritually, socially, and physically-a life that our Lord desires for all (John 10:10).
The Importance of a Faith Community:
"Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their work: If one falls down, his friend can help him up. But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up!...Where one alone may overcome, two together can resist. A three-ply cord is not easily broken" (Ecclesiastes 4:9-10, 12). We live in a very individualistic world. However, we truly do need each other. "It is not good that man be alone" (Genesis 2:18), were the very words of our Creator God. In addition, those around us need the same thing from us - companionship or community. We need to be sharing our lives with one another, our struggles, prayers, hopes, and our joys. We must be ready, in the words of the writer of Hebrews, "to stir up one another to love and good works" (Hebrews 10:24).
As veterans we need a safe haven, a place where we can go for relaxation, to regroup, to receive good news and encouragement, and then be ready to go back into the world again. This common need of humanity is one of the reasons and purposes of the faith community that God created.
Yet, the fact is that many of us have decided that we would be better served if we did not become involved with a faith community. We, therefore, tend to self-isolate, avoiding crowds, people and the church. However, this avoidance lifestyle is certainly a creation of man, not God. Not only this, we rob the society around us of an opportunity to fully benefit from our experiences and talents....
In the military we leave behind our old group of friends and develop new ones. In the military environment we get to know each other in unique ways. We are comfortable with each other's likes and dislikes, how we react in certain situations, what makes each other mad or joyful. We have similar priorities and we are OK with each other's hang-ups. We respect each other; depend on each other, etc.
But then, we come home and things are different. We can't seem to be able to reconnect with our old friends. They have moved on in life, leaving us behind. Crowds make us anxious; loud noises send us diving for cover; we fear new places and new stresses. In fact, we seem strange in comparison to others. We appear to ourselves as outsiders, no one seems to like us and we begin to think something is wrong with us. So we become isolated as we run away. Social isolation seems like the best option and it feels comfortable - at first! It seem easier than dealing with people we don't understand. In reality, however, this is the worse move we can make.
Thomas L. Seals is presently associate professor at Lipscomb University, Nashville, Tennessee, teaching in the College of Bible and Ministry and serving as chaplain to campus military veterans. He has earned a BA, MTS, and DMin degrees and completed postdoctoral work at Vanderbilt University. Dr. Seals has authored four books and is also actively involved with the Instituto Biblico Interamericana in Lima, Peru, as international president. He is married to Barbara Witt Seals and has three children and three grandchildren.