Star of Hope’s Men’s Development Center is a busy place right now. With the chilling temperatures at night, more men are filling the facility into overflow. And we are glad to serve them, with a warm meal, a warm dry place to sleep, a shower, fresh clothes and words of God’s love for them.
But there is another chilling element at work in many of these men besides the cold air outside. For a third or more of our 300+ men living here, the chill and haunt of past military combat trauma chills them to the bone, and affects their daily life, trapped inside years after they have returned home from combat. That chill is Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) and it is the ‘signature’ wound of the war on terrorism.
Just recently, at the conclusion of one of our Trauma Care group meetings, led by the PTSD Foundation of America and hosted at Star of Hope, a Vietnam Veteran approached us. He was injured in combat, and now walks slowly with the aid of a cane…his speech soft and slow. Tears coursed down this man’s cheeks as he shared with us his guilt – a guilt he has carried for over 40 years. One horrific day in Vietnam, he found himself in the midst of chaos and confusion with bullets flying and villagers falling in death. In the unfathomable moment, he realized that he had taken the life of an innocent, young girl, probably not yet 10 years old. Now in a small room with just a few fellow Veterans listening, he felt safe enough to share this very dark day in his life, and for the first time began to feel a sense of forgiveness in his life. The Star of Hope, a few fellow soldiers, and the good news of God’s forgiveness through Jesus Christ set this man on a new path…free from guilt and filled with God’s grace and mercy.
On another day, a Veteran who has been attending this same support group, opened up and began telling his story after weeks of just listening. His story was typical, but he had progressed to the place where God was real to him. He was ready to work again, but his felony record was holding him back. A “Second Chance Employer”, one who was willing the give him a second chance, gave him a job application, and he has been on his new job now for several weeks. On a recent Sunday, he was invited to share his story at a church, and his two young sons were with him and able to hear their dad tell of God’s forgiveness and redeeming love. We are now praying for his marriage and family to be restored. And we know that all things are possible with God!
Do you know a Veteran this Christmastime who needs a second chance? Respond to this blog or email firstname.lastname@example.org and together maybe another Christmas miracle will happen!