Frank Wm. White

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Soldiers returning home need ‘soul repair,’ Carver says

CLARKSVILLE, Tenn. (BP) -- Soldiers returning from combat need "soul repair," Douglas Carver, retired Army Chief of Chaplains, told a Military Ministry Gathering in Clarksville, Tenn., Nov. 17. "Treat them with dignity and respect because you don't know what they have gone through," said Carver, executive director of chaplain services for the North American Mission Board. [QUOTE@left@180='It's hard for our troops to come back home because they are searching for meaning and significance.'
-- Douglas Carver]Carver joined NAMB earlier this year to cast a vision for future strategy for the mission board's chaplaincy team, such as plans for developing a partnership between chaplains at nearby Fort Campbell and church and ministry leaders in the Clarksville area. The Military Ministry Gathering was perhaps the first of its kind to bring together post chaplains, church ministries of various denominations, para-church organizations and other service groups to discuss the needs of the soldiers and their families. Chaplains can help educate others about how to assist soldiers and their families, said Carver, a retired major general who served as a chaplain at Fort Campbell in the 1980s. "It's hard for our troops to come back home because they are searching for meaning and significance," Carver said, challenging churches to be prepared to help them with that search. Relationships are one of the most important things soldiers are seeking, Carver pointed out. "They want to tell you their story, but they are not going to tell you their story until they know you are willing to hear it," he said. "They want to know that you care enough to give them the time to listen." The church pew can be a lonely place for a solder, Carver observed. "We need to go to them. We need to connect our troops to the community," he said, noting, "The power of isolation is very destructive. Troops are isolated from the community." Of the approximately 80,000 soldiers and family members stationed at Fort Campbell, only about 25,000 of them live on the installation, said Col. (Chap.) Jeff Houston, Fort Campbell's chief of chaplains. "The rest of them live out in the community. They live in your community. They sit in your pews," Houston told approximately 200 participants at the Military Ministry Gathering, held at First Baptist Church in Clarksville.