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The USA says, "Welcome Home" to our troops.

Updated on November 13, 2012

Welcome home troops, thank you for your service to our Nation, we are proud of you.

As we prepare to welcome home our troops from Iraq and Afghanistan, it makes me wonder if they will be able to integrate back into society, and/or if society is ready to make the sacrifice needed to assist them in the process.

I want to say, "Welcome home, and what can I do to help you adjust?"

I recently read a book called, "Re-Entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home."

Being a Christian Missionary the last 12 years, seeing changes coming in our ministry, (more focus on veterans) and in the back of my mind knowing there are thousands of families about to embark on this "re-entry transition process," I saw a specific parallel.

When a person takes on a challenge for a cause, leaves the familiar, family and all they have known their first 18-20 years, to carry out that mission, then he/she returns, there is a transition process that everyone must be sensitive to, it must take place.

What can the everyday -- life goes on culture, family member, neighbor, community do to assist these fine young men and women back into the life they left behind? Admit it or not, they've changed, grown, experienced events unique only to war, life has continued here.

Photo Credit

Young ladies, and mothers are soldiers.
Young ladies, and mothers are soldiers.

Family

In the Navajo Nation a Veteran is A WARRIOR HERO. Relatives are, too!

We've had the unique opportunity to stand and participate with the Navajo Nation to celebrate the return of hero warriors. It seems the entire community comes out for the arrival of the bikers, who ride Run For The Wall. The community Princess in her Jingle Dress, the color guard, the banner at the City Community Center. But most of all the children of US military veterans are all honored. There is a dance called the "Gourd Dance" which is a ceremony that welcomes the warrior back into the community, and the Navajo veterans include the Run For The Wall riders into that ceremony. I've added a link to a video of this ceremony, it is with other emotional welcome home videos below. The Run For The Wall riders will be joining this circle.

Any soldier who serves is a hero, and their family is automatically considered a respected citizen because of their blood relation to the veteran soldier. We must get this attitude permeated. The Vietnam War Era veteran was ashamed to mention that they served this fine Nation during that wartime because the Nation turned against them, it was the "misunderstood" war.

I recently heard a testimony of a Vietnamese man who met some Christian soldiers who gave him a Bible during the Vietnam War. He sought out other Christians, ministered to other Vietnamese peers, neighbors and family and was kicked out of Vietnam after great persecution, because everywhere he went people were being converted. His testimony includes a huge, "Thank you," to American troops for coming to Vietnam, because so many were set free because they came and did their duty.

Here's a great resource for learning how to help our current veterans and active duty return in a smooth transition.

I think that more organizations need to step up to help with this onslaught of warriors returning.

PHOTO CREDIT

Which gift would be appreciated more by a returning soldier?

See results

Re-Entry: Making the Transition from Missions to Life at Home

Although the main topic of this book is about youth going on a foreign mission field to share their faith and return home after a few weeks or a few short months, the concept in the book can be applied to any transition a person or family is about to face.

Welcome Home - Soldiers surprize family members.

My parents married right after World War II. They met then married 4 months later. - I married at 19, during the Vietnam War and by age 21 my hubby was overseas

My Dad
My Dad

Military life is very stressful. All the moves, all the rumors, the politics, public opinion. Away from family, constant new friends and neighbors, completely different living environments are some of the trials. Although communication techniques have changed, duration of tours of duty, reasons for war, etc., wartime deployment is still a strain on families. Whether it's parents and siblings waiting and wondering if their loved one will return whole or at all, or additionally a spouse and children await their return, the irresistible urge to worry is overwhelming.

As our troops return in these next several weeks, we must ask ourselves, "What can I do, to avoid what happened in the 60's and 70's?"

America saw our soldiers returning home, and treated them less than acceptably. I say we step up this time and make up for it with our troops.

They will want to return to their jobs, find work, start or re-acquaint themselves with their own families, spend time with parents. Let's think of unique ways to help them feel as if they are appreciated, and were missed while they were serving.

I've posted a picture of my Dad in uniform, US Army. He served in Europe during World War II. He lost his closest buddy a few weeks before they returned home from the war. What a tragedy, they served together all that time. I don't think my Dad ever resolved this issue. He only recently told us of the event, in his 80's. People, our troops need people to talk to about their experiences, and they need our patience and understanding.

They are about to go through culture shock.

During the Vietnam War my husband served in Korea. - He was gone our 1st son's first 13 months.

My husband in Korea
My husband in Korea

He left and I was due the next day, he came home to a walking, babbling baby boy, who had his own routine. We struggled with getting time alone, and with integrating a toddler into his day. He came home addicted, depressed, and feeling like an outsider. He worked his former job at first, but the company had changed so much, they virtually pushed him out, not wanting to pace him through the training it would take to keep him.

He left the US Army early to finish college. He was a Junior when he dropped out to join the Army, hoping to get orders for Vietnam. The graduating class right before him suffered great casualties, and he was sent to additional training, by the time his class was up for rotating out, he was selected for Korea. He had orders for Taiwan for awhile, I and the baby could have gone with him, but they were changed only 6 days before he left to Korea.

Lots of heartbreak, and many huge life disappointments are linked to the US Army and the way married soldiers were treated. We watched many relationships fail over the years we served. Getting out was such a relief we went a little crazy with our lifestyle. Can't help but think that there will be some of this when our young men and women return from Iraq.

A church holds a support our troops meal.
A church holds a support our troops meal.

Churches can step up to honor the troops when they return home.

Not just a meal at the church when they return, but provide a place for them to hang out and talk with each other, and family members maybe even a coffee shop setting every Friday night.

Veterans, and active duty military, love to talk about their experiences overseas. You say, "But, don't they have homes and living rooms for that?"

I say, does the church want to reach our returning soldiers and give them an avenue for reentry, and healing. We cannot change people, but war has changed our young people, and as we learn more about what they experienced, and they grow to trust us there will be a new friendship established.

Yes, I'm speaking from experience. My husband left for overseas breturned from overseas in 1970 to me and our 13 month old son who was born the day after he left. I had no idea what he went through overseas. He sought out fellow veterans, but they were all caught up in their own re-establishment of civilian life. He tried to connect with older veterans but the organizations available to him we mostly gatherings at bars. When he left the US Army he tried to "fit in" at his old job and too much had changed, in him and in them. We were so disoriented. I had no idea how to help him and he had no idea how to ask.

My advice:

be real;

be sincere;

be available.

Family is everything. - We somehow managed to make it through the re-entry process. Our family in 1975.

family 1973
family 1973

When a space mission takes place there is special preparation, physically, emotionally and technically. When the crew prepares to return there are several stages of re-entry that have to be talked through, and as they are practiced and studied, they must be automatic responses to the issues that may come up. Our young people are facing re-entry. Are they prepared emotionally, physically and technically.

If you've ever been gone from family for an extended time, you can recall the changes that took place while you were away, and your reaction when you returned.

A child is much larger, experiencing trials from a different stage of life; parents have aged and slowed down some, maybe even changed careers or retired, siblings have gone off to college or started their own careers and families, 3 or 4 years away, or even 6 months away can bring about many changes.

People and relationships that were tight before, people you leaned on, or spent large amounts of time with have found new friends to lean on, spend their time with and you feel left out or forgotten.

Please find a returning soldier and make them sincerely, honestly feel welcomed and integrated back into this society, where life went on as normal while they served and paid an immeasurable price by willingly going to war.

Our little family a few years after returning to "normal" society. We dropped out, tuned out, moved out, bought a farm and grew our own vegetables, had cattle, rabbits, chickens and did some share cropping with corn, soybeans and hay. We did not feel like we were a part of the country that rejected the Vietnam War and anyone who served during that era.

Reminder:

Your new neighbors, active-duty military family, will love any small gift left on their porch. They will know they are appreciated.

Yellow ribbon welcomes home troops.

Hang a yellow ribbon round the old oak tree. What a sweet tradition.

The "blank tablet."

"No one went to war as a 'blank tablet.' No one. We all went as someone, as somebody. We all had personalities, strengths and shortcomings, values, beliefs, prejudices, relationships, successes, problems, issues and dreams ... there is no way to begin to understand the possible impact of war unless you have a clear sense of your personality before ..."

find article at: www.patriotoutreach.org/guidelines.html

Here's a grand welcome home. - Honor Flight Welcome Home video.

First Video: Yes, there's nothing wrong with Welcoming Home our WW II Veterans once they've taken the Honor Flight. This is a great flag waving video indeed.

Second Video: Welcome Home Vietnam Veterans event. Beautiful.

Please brainstorm with me on ways to reach and encourage our troops.

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    • profile image

      JoshK47 5 years ago

      A wonderful lens - thanks so much for sharing!

    • bikerministry profile image
      Author

      bikerministry 5 years ago

      @anonymous: Thank you davespeed. This was my goal. To encourage others to reach in and help people recognize the needs of our troops upon returning home. Each one encourage one!

    • profile image

      anonymous 5 years ago

      What I like about this lens is that you are multiplying your efforts by encouraging all of us to reach and encourage our troops. I have made "token" efforts before to support our troops through group and community efforts, but haven't made the personal effort to do the kinds of things that you mention in your poll. I can do better. Thanks for this reminder that it is my duty to honor and support those who answered their call to duty through military service.

    • Barbara2659 profile image

      Barbara2659 5 years ago

      I love this lens!

    • bikerministry profile image
      Author

      bikerministry 5 years ago

      @pawpaw911: I certainly hear your heart pawpaw911. Teaching an awareness of our faithful few who are serving or have served, to those who don't comprehend and sincerely reaching out to our military are our heart. Hopefully the lens reflects this. We sure appreciate your son's sacrifices and willingness to serve this great country. Those kids who wrote those letters have a connection that many people who watch the news every day have not experienced. Bless their hearts.

    • profile image

      pawpaw911 5 years ago

      I have a little experience with it, a few years back. My son served in Afghanistan, and I thing that seemed to touch him the most were the letters from children. Of course just having strangers thank him for his service was touching and amazing also. When people show their appreciation for their service, it does wonders for their family also. While they are over there, the families for the most part go through the stress of it pretty much alone.

      Unless you have experienced it, you don't really know what it is like to be in bed at night, and wondering what you son is doing on the other side of the world, and wonder if he is ok.

      Then you find out he is hurt, and you are slightly relieved, until you find out that when his bone heals, he has to go back.

      Thanks for doing this lens. Much appreciated. And thank your husband for his service.

    • bikerministry profile image
      Author

      bikerministry 6 years ago

      @anonymous: Please know my husband and I so appreciate your husband's service in the Persian Gulf, and we will be praying for your son in Afghanistan. Times are crazy. The troops need our support.

    • profile image

      anonymous 6 years ago

      Wonderful lens, my husband served in the Persian Gulf, and my son is now in Afghanistan. Very nice lens.

    • bikerministry profile image
      Author

      bikerministry 6 years ago

      @MartieG: Survivoryea, I'm so sorry for your loss of a cousin in '68. Have you ever been to the Vietnam Memorial Wall? You should try to if not. We are there every May all around Memorial Day. It's an amazing memorial, it helps to see the name, get a rubbing, pay your respects and get needed healing. Blessings to you, and yest Thank You to our troops.

    • bikerministry profile image
      Author

      bikerministry 6 years ago

      @lizholy: lizholy - Thank you for visiting and I'm honored that you think it is inspirational. Blessings to you.

    • MartieG profile image

      MartieG aka 'survivoryea' 6 years ago from Jersey Shore

      Fabulous lens - my husband served in the army and I lost my cousin in '68 in Nam -- God bless all our troops for keeping us safe,

    • profile image

      lizholy 6 years ago

      Love this lens... very inspirational about the military.

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