As the church, it's sometimes hard to know what to say to our veterans or military chaplains, so often the church doesn't say anything. I encourage the church to look over it's membership, to identify any veterans and to reach out to them. Don't worry, most veterans won't be offended if it's a bit awkward the first time around. The most important thing is that you're caring and authentic. It's as easy as an email, phone call, or card. Here's an email that I sent out to all of the veterans in Chaplaincy and Care Ministry.
Dear Veterans and Military Chaplains,
Thank you for your service and sacrifice for your country. The Church has ordained you to a difficult but essential ministry to our service men and women. Through you Christ’s presence is embodied in places and situations that seem so far from the presence of God.
On behalf the CRC and Chaplaincy and Care Ministry, we thank you for your service. I wish that this short blurb could better convey our deep appreciation and respect for your ministry and work. We promise to work diligently to continue to advocate for our military service men and women within the denomination and non-profit organizations.
In chaplaincy, we often talk about ministering to the whole person. You embody this concept as you provide religious rituals and preach the Gospel, plan and conduct resiliency programs, provide counseling and crisis intervention, complete PT, complete readiness and officer tasks/duties, and many other tasks/services. You do all of this so well as you provide care for all of your service members no matter who they are or what they believe.
Thank you for caring for your mind, body, and soul so that you are able to be adaptable and ready at a moment’s notice to respond to a crisis during your active military service. Thank you for being beacons of hope and safe refuge our service men and women. They entrust to you their deepest fears, and often you enter into their darkest hour.
May God continue to empower you in your ministry. Our prayer for you today is that you continue to flourish in your ministry and you may continue to extend yourself God’s grace as you extend God's grace to others.