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Outfitted in their dress blue (Class A) uniforms, the heels of their gleaming shoes echoed solemnly in the cool morning air. Chaplain (Maj.) Tim Maracle’s and his master sergeant’s somber faces only hinted at the depth of pain in their hearts. A slow breath. A nod. A ring of a doorbell. Before the door even opens, a glimpse of their presence plunges a mother and father into the depths of heart-rending grief; shortly after, a devastated bride-to-be is left in a world suddenly emptied of life and love.
Where can these desperately hurting families and loved ones ever find comfort? Who could possibly understand the depth of heartache they are experiencing?
Recently, under the ministry umbrella of Network 211, a solution has been offered that not only offers hope and healing in written form, but enables those needing to speak with someone — someone who truly understands their pain — to make that connection. The Warrior’s Journey, a recently launched website endorsed by AG U.S. Missions Chaplaincy Ministries, has been created for veterans and their loved ones who face difficult and often tragic challenges that those outside the military can never fully understand.
Kevin Weaver, an ordained AG minister, an Air Force veteran, and the chief executive officer of The Warrior’s Journey, explains that the website offers veterans and their families more than 1,000 articles written by veterans and family members along with numerous video testimonies that are all divided by topic.
“Under the Challenges menu we offer articles and videos that are specific to military members and their families,” Weaver says. “Challenges topics include Isolation, Family Brokenness, Deployment, PTSD, Deep Loss, Helplessness, Insignificance, and five others. The article and video testimonials are by military people for military people.”
The Ethos menu pulls down to offer warriors insights into the 10 values each branch of service holds as core truths, such as courage, discipline, duty, honor, faith, leadership, and patriotism. The site also offers a My Role menu designed to help not just military personnel and their families, but pastors, employers, children, and others find answers to difficult, consuming questions.
However, what may be the most impressive portion of the website are the four small response boxes found at the end of each article: I Made a Decision, I Want to Speak to a Chaplain, I Have a Question, and Please Pray for Me.
“If someone asks to be contacted, typically within a few hours, a chaplain or military volunteer will connect with that person,” Weaver says. “Depending on the issue, such as loss of a spouse, the person responding will be a ‘like-experienced’ person who can respond with empathy and understanding.”
According to Chaplain (retired Col.) Scott McChrystal, the military/veterans affairs endorser for AG Chaplaincy Ministries, the website is world class — and necessarily so. “We are deeply saddened every time we hear of the loss of military personnel in action. This website will be an incredible resource to those facing the challenges of tragic loss and other difficulties,” McChrystal states. “But what many don’t realize is the need veterans have for The Warrior’s Journey. On average, 22 veterans commit suicide every single day — more than 8,000 lives taken each year. We believe that through the resources and ministry of The Warrior’s Journey we can help many veterans to choose life, not death.”
Weaver said that within the first two weeks of the launching of the site, there have already been 7,500 unique military visits to the site. Maracle offers an explanation as to what has made this site instantly popular with military members and families.
“In the chaplaincy, you have to earn the right to be heard; you have to be where the ‘suck’ is, where it’s cold, where it’s miserable, alongside the soldiers,” Maracle explains. In much the same way, those posting to The Warrior’s Journey and offering to walk alongside warriors and their families have already been where the suck is — and have made it through.
“The Warrior’s Journey is a powerful resource for pastors and churches who want to support our veterans,” McChrystal says. “In today’s culture, our military veterans and family members are much more likely to visit a website offering guidance and hope than they are to speak with a pastor, chaplain, or counselor.”
The site, Weaver adds, is not static. More articles and videos are being added every week to continual increase the value of the site to military personnel and their families.
“A key aspect of the site is that each story, each testimony reveals that only with the spiritual component of Jesus Christ did these soldiers, these families, have the resilience to make it through the incredibly difficult and unique challenges a military life brings.”
Image by - The Official U.S. Navy