Ministers call for vols to show care to troubled veterans
Two Mexia men are planning a one-day mission trip to the Houston area in November to serve veterans being treated for post-traumatic stress disorder, and they are putting out a call for others who would like to go with them.
Lay minister Kent Kendall and youth minister Michael Hensley, of First United Methodist Church, are organizing a trip to Camp Hope, located in Spring, which is part of the PTSD Foundation of America.
Camp Hope, which opened in 2012, allows veterans and their immediate family members to stay for 90-day programs that include group lessons and support sessions.
Kendall and Hensley spoke to the Mexia Lions Club earlier this week about Camp Hope and their plan to travel there in the latter part of November and show their care for the vets through cooking a meal for them, playing music and listening. First, though, Hensley spoke about the high rate of suicide among veterans.
“Every day in America, 22 veterans kill themselves,” he said. “One in three post-9/11 combat vets suffer from some type of PTSD.”
Hensley, a former Marine, shared one man’s story to illustrate how someone may get to the point of suffering from this condition. He told about a young man named Sam, who after graduating from high school didn’t know which direction to go with his life. He wasted several years then finally joined the service. The Army kept Sam’s group of 60 together for their whole tour. They completed three months of boot camp followed by two months of combat training before joining the fleet. After that, they were notified they would be deployed to combat duty.
“At this point, Sam has a young bride that is two or three months pregnant,” Hensley said, “and he’s going on a deployment that’s supposed to be nine months, so he knows he’s not going to be there when his child is born, that he’s going to miss a whole bunch. But he also knows that these 60 guys he’s come together with are his family. They’ve been together going on two years; they know what makes each other click.”
Hensley described months of harsh duty and how it changed Sam. That group of 60 men lost one in their first fire fight; then lost three more who tried to recover the body of the first soldier killed. During that initial tour, the group lost nine men, about one a month. Before the nine months ended, they were told their tour had been extended by another year. By then, their group of 60 was down to 43. Their only way to honor their fallen comrades was to bring home their remains. Sam came home to a baby running around in diapers who didn’t know him, and family members who didn’t know what to say to him.
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