Ministry to Veterans

By: The Rev. Frederick Rajan, Vice President, Mission and Spiritual Care

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There are almost 20 million veterans and service members living in the United States. Kane, Lake, and McHenry counties are home to a significantly large number of veterans in our state. Post war life can be challenging unless there are communities responding with hospitality and love. How a faith community welcomes and responds is critical to the wellbeing of our nation’s veterans and their families who call our communities their home.

Those in the military service are exposed not only to physical wounds but also to mental, emotional, and moral or spiritual wounds. These wounds impact not only the veterans but also family, friends, and coworkers. One indicator of the psychological wounds is the suicide rate among veterans remains at 22 suicide deaths each day. As people of faith we cannot be silent. Many congregations across our community are standing with veterans and supporting them and their families. Our community is no exception.

Advocate Health Care—a health care ministry of the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America and United Church of Christ—is committed to addressing health and wellness in the community we serve. Thus, the Mission and Spiritual Care departments at the three Advocate Health Care hospitals in the northwest suburbs, Advocate Condell Medical Center, Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital, and Advocate Sherman Hospital, joined with congregations, pastoral care providers and veteran organizations to address the invisible wounds of war.     

On November 10, 2017, we will observe Veterans Day a day early, and begin a new milestone in our outreach to the veteran community. At 11:00 a.m. during a public ceremony, we will dedicate a Veterans Monument at the main entrance to Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital.

Our veterans ministry is built on the collaborative partnership with veterans' organizations such as Lake County Veteran and Family Services, Coming Home Retreats, and Military Outreach USA. In addition, we work closely with the VA and the VA hospital. 

In this issue, we present to you a collection of excellent articles written by community members who are engaged in ministry and service to our veterans. Each article is a powerful witness to the fact that when a community comes together, hope blossoms!