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If anyone serves, he should do it with the strength God provides, so that in all things God may be praised through Jesus Christ. – I Peter 4:11
You will see Vietnam Vets still serving in so many ways:
You will see them as senators, congressmen, and elected officials—trying to make the nation greater.
You will see them as CEOs and retired senior officers—trying to continue to lead well.
You will see them escorting older WWII vets to the Washington memorial on Honor Flights—trying to honor those who served before them.
You will see them at the airports welcoming troops home from combat—trying to demonstrate extreme gratitude.
You will see them riding motorcycles in the Patriot Guard—trying to protect those grieving families during their most tender and vulnerable moments.
You will see them building houses for our wounded warriors—trying to make a difference in lives of those whose lives will never be the same.
You will see them sharing their stories in public settings—trying to remind our country of the demands placed on our nations’ sons and daughters.
You will see them volunteering at the V.A.—trying to spend time with those whose days are brightened with their presence.
You will see them holding private conversations with men and women in uniform—trying to encourage them in a way only a veteran understands.
Being the wife of a Vietnam Vet, I served during those years, on the home front. I served proudly, alongside the best, including many POW wives. Many of us volunteer now with today’s military spouses—trying to help with our own brand of training while observing, often up close and personal, a much more difficult war with its multiple deployments and unseen enemy.
I have heard it said that Vietnam vets serve so well now because they were so ill-treated back then—and they don’t want our current forces to experience that. Perhaps that’s some of it, but I don’t think that’s all of it—by any means.
I think they serve well because it’s the right thing to do.
Which brings me to this last thought . . . You will see Vietnam vets quietly serving in ministry—trying to share their faith as the real answer to life’s problems and war’s woundings. The Apostle Paul’s admonition in 2 Corinthians 1:3,4 is a reminder that there is purpose in our life experiences and trials—as a help and comfort to those who will have similar experiences and need the hand of God in their healing process: “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, the Father of compassion and the God of all comfort, who comforts us in all our troubles, so that we can comfort those in any trouble with the comfort we ourselves have received from God.
I was recently reminded of this truth from our Vietnam story in the latest from a series of favorite devotional books, Battlefields and Blessings, entitled Stories of Faith and Courage from The Vietnam War, by Vietnam Vet and author Larkin Spivey. These compilations of daily devotions has had other offerings—from reflections on the Revolutionary War to the Civil War, to World War II, to Iraq and Afghanistan . . . now the Vietnam War and soon to be published Stories of Faith and Courage from the Home Front.
Spivey includes an entry about John Blehm, now a staff missionary with Military Ministry. John ministers to those with PTSD from his years of experience with this challenge and from his genuine faith which he and his wife share so openly.
Spivey introduces Blehm’s words with these: “After years of broken marriages, mood swings, medication, and counseling, John Blehm began to turn back to the one Source of help he had avoided most of his life. He found a church and a Bible and began seeking a better understanding of God . . . ‘I have learned that the more time I spend with God learning His Word and ways, the better life goes for me . . . Don’t give up; don’t think your life is over because of what you’ve experienced . . . If you’ll go to God and ask for peace and restoration he will give it to you and you will know when it happens because you will feel like the whole world has just been lifted off your shoulders. Ask God what he has for you to do and you will be surprised at the doors that will open to help you do God’s will and perhaps what you have been through and survived will be your tool to help others before something bad happens to them.” (p. 209)
Obviously there are many in our dear nation who serve sacrificially, including First Responders. But veterans are in a unique position to help our current generation of military members in creative ways which God can use. When we read of those whose heart is to demonstrate God’s grace, love, and redemptive power . . . we can only stand back in awe and acknowledge His presence in our lives. We can together say “thank you” to those whom Mr. Spivey wrote about . . . and the many thousands of others from the Vietnam era who have continued their service to our country and our Lord.
Spivey, Larkin, Battlefields & Blessings: Stories of Faith and Courage from the Vietnam War (Chattanooga: AMG Publishers, 2011).
Questions to Share:
1. Do you know a Vietnam vet who has continued to help others because of his or her war experience?
2. What could you share with others from your deployment experience that would be helpful in their lives?