I'm on a two-year, unaccompanied tour in Germany, and I haven't been home since last August. I'd hoped to see my family in early March, but current world events leave that in doubt. Though it's difficult, especially during holidays, my wife, MaryAnn, also an Air Force employee, does an amazing job of managing a household with two teenage boys by herself. I thank God every day for blessing me with her. We've been married for 26 years, and she has stayed with me through deployments, 12 moves, and now two years apart.
My faith in God gets me through each day. Every morning I begin with a devotional reading (Our Daily Bread), and I close every evening with prayer. When I'm not deployed, I lead a men's Bible study. I also try to read The Lutheran each month. These, and the liturgical service at Ramstein Air Base help keep my faith strong, even when I must prepare for a possible war with Iraq.
Sometimes it's hard to maintain a Christian-centered approach to life while executing your duties. For those of us who have gone to war, it's not something we relish or desire but sometimes necessary to achieve a broader good. Without my faith I'd have a hard time serving my country and keeping my sanity. I pray every day for our Lord to help our nation's leaders make the right decisions about using force against others.
We always depart with a prayer, and that helps me face the unknown. The prayers of my faith community, and faith in my leaders also help. Air Force and joint service training give me strength to know we'll do what's right.
I'd like to see ELCA congregations create outreach teams to support military families. We have family readiness people on base, but they're usually one or two people trying to serve hundreds who are separated from their loved ones. It would bring me some peace of mind if someone could call or visit my family once a month to make sure they're OK, check to see if my wife could use a break from the boys, and make sure my family has opportunities to stay connected to the church. This could be very beneficial for all the military, but especially Guard and Reserve forces, which may not live near an active-duty base that provides family support.
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