About half of all service members serving in Iraq and Afghanistan are members of the National Guard or Reserves, which means they return to their home communities and churches after deployment – and often churches do not know how they can help.
"How they reenter daily life after combat is a significant question for local churches," says the Rev. Tom Carter, director of endorsement and pastoral care for the General Board of Higher Education and Ministry's United Methodist Endorsing Agency.
For that reason, UMEA is making available copies of Care for Returning Veterans, a DVD produced by the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America, to each annual conference of The United Methodist Church.
UMEA has purchased 1,000 copies, and annual conference communicators may place orders from UMEA. Each DVD costs $1, and the minimum order from a conference is 10.
"Many resources have been developed and provided for churches, but this DVD is the best that I have seen," Carter says. "The DVD, developed as workshop resources for congregations or individuals, provides background information of the issues of serving in combat, [along with] practical ways for individuals or congregations to reach out in love and support."
The DVD produced by the ECLA may be used in workshops for pastors, caregivers, or as an adult Sunday School study, Carter says. He adds that although much attention is given to physical injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder, there are many other issues that face service members returning from combat – and a local church can play an important role in making returning service members feel welcomed back into their communities.
"What has your congregation done to support those who have been willing to risk their life in support of your way of life?" Carter asks.
If your church would like a copy of the Care for Returning Veterans DVD, please send a request by email to firstname.lastname@example.org. If we receive 10 or more requests we will place an order with UMEA.
Phone Card Project: Another Great Way to Support Service Members
As you address returning veterans, please remember the service members who are still serving away from home, by donating to the phone card program.
The phone card project has been in continuous operation since Veterans Day 2003.
Here's how it works.
A 120-minute United Methodist logo phone card was developed in 2004 and remains in use. UMEA collects donations, orders a supply of the phone cards, and sends them directly to United Methodist Chaplains serving in areas of conflict, who hand them out to service personnel.
One card costs $4.95. The logo card has a message on it stating that it is provided by the people of the UMC and that we are praying for the service member's safety.
Since the program began, UMEA has placed 22 orders for 5000 cards, collected more than $650,000, and has distributed more than 16, 400,000 minutes. That's more than 19 years of continuous minutes!
UMEA is deeply grateful to all who have prayed for our service members, made donations, and/or sent letters and cards. Many United Methodists have served and are serving our country. May we continue to support them.
Phone card donations may be sent to:
United Methodist Endorsing Agency
PO Box 340007
Nashville, TN 37203
For more information download flyer (in PDF format).