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Minnesota National Guard
Faith communities plan military family support

ST CLOUD, Minn " Over 25 members of the faith-based community attended training in St Cloud focused on ministering to military families sponsored by the St Cloud based Warrior to Citizen group on May 3, 2012    


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The key-note speaker for the presentation and Chief of Chaplains for the Minnesota National Guard Chaplain (Col) John Morris commented on the training "It is wonderful to see so many members of the clergy turn out for training on this topic  Many churches are in conflict today about how to support Soldiers in their congregations without appearing like they support war" 

Morris added, "Ministers of faith play a vital role in the healing of a warrior's soul when he or she returns from combat  Doctors can offer medication, but a pastor can offer absolution" 

Morris went on to say that today's combat environment is very different from the combat environment of previous generations  In today's warfare there are no distinction between forward and rear echelon units  Thus, Soldiers who were once in combat service support roles can often find themselves engaged in combat military operations

Morris who has deployed twice to Iraq, once in 2004 and again with the 34th Infantry Division Headquarters in 2009-2010, has been on the cutting edge of providing services to Soldiers returning from combat  It was his work with the Minnesota National Guard that helped implement the Beyond the Yellow Ribbon program which has become a national model for reintegrating Soldiers back into society after they have been to war 

"The faith community can play an essential role in helping a military family prepare for deployment and it can play an essential role in helping the family to reconnect with each other post-deployment," said Morris 

Following Morris' presentation clergy and community members engaged in round-table discussions  Ideas were generated and discussed on how to reach-out and minister to military families  Some of the ideas presented were:  offering military couples a spiritual retreat, a religious service devoted to welcoming home veterans, or clergy and lay ministers providing career counseling to returning veterans 

Anita Harris who facilitates meetings for the St Cloud Warrior to Citizen group was instrumental in organizing the training  "It was wonderful to have Chaplain Morris conduct this training for us today  It was also very gratifying to see so many community members give of their time to learn how we as a faith community can serve those who have so faithfully served our nation," said Harris 

May 3, 2012
Story and photos by Maj John Donovan
Public Affairs Office,
Camp Ripley, Minn 
 




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