Contributed by Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain
Veterans Day is an official United States public holiday, observed annually on November 11th, which honors military veterans; that is, people who served in the United States armed forces. It coincides with other holidays, including Armistice Day and Remembrance Day, celebrated in other countries that mark the anniversary of the end of World War I; major hostilities of World War I were formally ended at the 11th hour of the 11th day of the 11th month of 1918, when the Armistice with Germany went into effect. The United States previously observed Armistice Day. The U.S. holiday was renamed Veterans Day in 1954.
Military chaplains have served in all our military conflicts, but are rarely recognized. They are in the thick of the battles, but carry no firearm. They are caring, compassionate, servants of God.
Isaiah 6:8-9 speaks of Isaiah’s call to ministry:
“Also I heard the voice of the Lord, saying, ‘Whom shall I send, and who will go for us?’ Then said I, ‘Here am I; send me.’ And he said, ‘Go, and tell this people, Hear ye indeed, but understand not; and see ye indeed, but perceive not.’”
The military chaplain’s accepted God’s call to serve at home, abroad, in conflict, sorrow and pain. They proclaimed the message of God’s love, mercy and grace.
For over 200 years, military chaplains have accompanied U.S. forces wherever they have served. Wherever our military is, chaplains and enlisted religious support personnel are there to help and serve military members and other authorized personnel.
Chaplains are ordained by individual religious denominations before they join the military. Once commissioned as officers in the Army, Navy or Air Force (Navy Chaplains serve with the Marine Corps and Coast Guard.), they provide religious worship services, rites, sacraments, ordinances and ministrations to military members and their families worldwide. They state that their mission is to nurture the living, care for the sick or wounded, minister to prisoners or prisoners of war and honor the dead.
Chaplains also assist military personnel and family members in dealing with personal concerns such as faith issues, stress, anxiety, redeployment or reunion issues, moral and ethical values and social concerns.
For many servicemembers, chaplains are the first person they can turn to for help outside their chain of command. In this role, chaplains help to resolve problems by making appropriate referrals to command channels or social service agencies. They also assist military personnel in requesting emergency leave, compassionate reassignments and hardship discharges.
Although I’m not a military chaplain, I have had the opportunity to work closely with many of these fine people. It was a privilege.
Thank you for all your hard work on behalf of our armed forces.
Tom Stearns, WASI Chaplain