Faith-Based Solutions to the Combat Experience

A Fort Leavenworth chapel program is using a Biblical approach to helping returning Soldiers and their families “reunite” for the long term.  The program is called “Faith-Based Solutions to the Combat Experience” and uses two Military Ministry (links) products: When War Comes Home and The Combat Trauma Healing Manual.

The program is open to all and is purely a military Chapel function.  The goal isn’t psychological healing, but an intimate and faith-based effort to strengthen family relationships:

Facilitators are looking at reintegration into society after combat from a personal, faith-based perspective.

Chaplain (LtCol) Mike Thompson lauded the value of faith in the approach, which essentially allowed Soldiers to ask “Where’s God?”

Chaplain (LtCol) Mike Thompson said bringing faith discussions into healing follows, in part, the idea of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness. He said one of the common themes found in service members returning from combat is changes in faith – the question, “Where was God in all of this?”

Rich McConnell said it was his faith that allowed him to answer that question. As a battalion executive officer, he and his commander both had the same approach, he said.

“God was really good to us on that thing,” he said. “I can see the miracle in what occurred, and I think for me, that has made the big difference in being able to distinguish that, it’s being able to see the miraculous in even some of the bad things that have occurred.”


  • I wonder what plans are afoot for returning non-Christian and Atheist soldiers? A lot of hoopla for returning Christians but I see nothing here for Jews, Muslims, Atheists, etc. Is Christianity the only religion in the armed forces? One would think so after seeing the enormous input that it has. Has the US Military become a Christian fighting force to the exclusion of other beliefs?

  • @Richard
    If you’re going to start commenting on year-old articles, at least take the time to read up on them before engaging the martyr complex — then you wouldn’t have to “wonder.”

    The Army has an intensive reintegration effort ongoing for all Soldiers. This Chapel community chose to sponsor a faith-based effort.

    Every other faith group is perfectly entitled to do the same thing, so the onus is on you to prove there is any “exclusion.” Funny how often you use that word, and yet how infrequently you’re able to back it up.

    Do you really begrudge this group the ability to practice their faith in their return home from combat? Don’t you support the religious liberty of free exercise protected by the Constitution?

  • Well you’re the one who keeps these articles on display for a year. And aren’t soldiers still coming back from Iraq and Afghanistan? Or did they stop a year ago? Wouldn’t that
    make this story contemporary?

    Soldiers, Sailors and Airmen should choose the re-entry plan that suits them best. If it is religious, fine. I don’t begrudge any group the ability to practice their faith. It is only when those who do not wish to are coerced into it. That’s why I asked if there were alternate plans for the non-Christian and Atheist troops.

    And by the way, religion is not the answer to all things. Good psychological and mental health counseling would probably do as well or even better than the same old religious stuff and without the discrimination. Having worked with a veteran’s group assisting in reorientation of returing combat troops I can testify that their interests centered on where the kids were going to attend school, where to get their car serviced, off base housing etc. Religion seemed to be very low on their priority list.

  • Richard,

    In perspective, I’ve seen first hand 5 1-hour counseling sessions with a secular psychologist be totally ineffective, and one 45 minute talk with a pastor start the healing so completely that it required no more meetings. It depends on the person.

  • @Dealer

    Hi Dealer,

    I don’t doubt that there are circumstances in which religious counseling can have a healing effect. I must say, however, that a number of troops that I have dealt with on returning felt that our actions in Iraq and Afghanistan were religion generated and had to be counseled as to the the secular cause of war and not the crusade aspect.

    Exclusive religious counseling can have a deleterious effect.

  • I’ve heard plenty of reasons: ranging from oil influence, ‘finish what daddy started’, to eradicating terrorism. In my (1) experience, exclusive secular counseling would have had negative effects. I’m not saying everyone should do it, or that the government should pay for my church’s efforts (as they paid for the secular counsellor).

    Like many things: the competition of ideas is better than suppression.

  • @Dealer

    Your point is well made. I do believe the competition of ideas is the American way. Unfortunately for many, including our military, there is no competition. Religion sends them off, Religion welcomes them home, religion answers their questions and religion excludes all secualr aspects of the wars. Religion becomes the reason d’etre.

    Many troops succumb to it because it has become regulation. JD and his crowd would control your life from cradle to grave. It has become a sickness.

  • Richard,

    I disagree with your assertion that religion sends them off, welcomes them home, answers all their questions, and excludes secular aspects of the wars. I deployed without my unit and the only religion I found was the religion I seeked out. I had an atheist troop who deployed in a similar manner. The only religion he got exposed to was a visit at the squadron by the chaplain making sure we had our MWR needs met, a few flyers at the chow hall posting the service times, and the fact he got to drive the squadron car by himself on Sundays because I walked from the church service to work (vice forcing him to pick me up).

    It’s not regulation, nor is it mandatory.

  • @Dealer
    By regulation, I mean Christian religious drill has become SOP in the armed forces. One would have to be completey detached or totally participant not to realize the scope of this gross violation of personal religious freedom.

    I attended a new appointee orientation at the US Air Force Academy several years ago. I went in support of a friend who is a retired Air Force Colonel, former fighter pilot and highly decorated Vietnam Veteran. His son was the appointee. It was held at the USAFA Chapel. In addition to command staff and faculty speeches two evengelical protestant chaplains gave a sectarian Christian invocation and benediction. They went on to point out that it is the right and responsibility of Christian cadets to attempt to proselytize whom they called “the unchurched.” It quickly turned into a revival meeting with these two chaplains talking about Christian duty and God’s place in their careers.

    Several parties got up and walked out, including my friend and his son. The son rejected his appointment and attended a state college and became a naval officer through ROTC.

  • Richard,

    If Christian religious drill is standard ops, explain my experience described above. Your experience with the appointee orientation is not what I would call ‘standard’ and is against regs, not in compliance.

    I can’t use my personal experiences to say that the entire AF has no religious prejudice, because I haven’t been everywhere. Likewise, you can’t say that religious drill is SOP unless you’ve been everywhere (which I don’t think you have), and avoid research bias (which I think you do have).

    Out of curiosity, what year was that?

  • @Dealer
    Hi Dealer,

    The year was 2004.

    I have been everywhere figuratively speaking. One has only to visit the Military Religious Freedom Foundation website at to get an ongoing series of reports as to the villainous activities of Christian Dominionists in tyhe armed forces.

    There are over 22,000 complaints from our youg men and women in the military as to the draconian efforts to convert and upgrade. This is not a drill.

  • @Dealer
    The incident to which Richard is referring appears to be that described by Col Antoon here. The facts are thin there, but differ slightly from Richard’s recollection. Some of Antoon’s (unproven) accusations are inflammatory and based more on emotion than fact; they were debunked by an Air Force report he criticizes. (Col Antoon previously implied his son’s decision to attend Ohio State over USAFA had more to do with “what Vietnam and Iraq were really about” and “what he would be expected to do.” This from a man who thinks we napalmed cities during OIF…)

    Both articles are rife with conspiracy theories, complete with claims of General officer collusions and a secret private Army working for President Bush…

  • Richard,

    I think you just proved my point about ‘research bias.’ Virtually visiting everywhere through the MRFF’s reports is like saying you have studied martial success by running a divorce practice. It’s not the full story.

    22k is a lot, but when viewed in relation to the size of the force (300K+), an equally true stat is less than 1% have complaints-and that’s assuming that all the complaints are distinct individuals.


    Thanks for the link. Interesting read, especially the lack of firsthand experience.