A sleeve hanging loose where an arm once was. A jagged run disrupting skin where shrapnel left its mark. These are the kinds of scars visible on the bodies of military veterans. But more concerning are the invisible scars left on the minds and hearts of servicemen and women.
As we recognize National PTSD Awareness Month this June, we want to share how Christian veterans are reaching out and recognizing that the trauma they and their comrades experienced can only be fully healed in the arms of a Savior.
Healing for Veterans
Steve Prince, director of Warriors Set Free and a vet himself, says, “The number that’s thrown around a lot is 22 veteran suicides a day, which is true. There are other numbers thrown around. But with the tools we have through the Gospel [and] through the Freedom Appointments, we wanted to make a focused effort on finding veterans to directly minister to veterans.”
Set Free launched Warriors Set Free five years ago and Prince came on as the inaugural director. Since then, the program has expanded to serve an ever-growing need among vets.
“The biggest thing is listening to their story and just trying to pick up a disconnect with them talking about what happened — whether it was in combat, or in the military,” says Prince. “A lot of veterans we’re finding experienced trauma before they joined the military. So we’ll even go back and help them unpack some of that pain.”
Vets often struggle with internal lies related to their experiences and trauma in the military. Prince helps the men and women he works with address these lies and replace them with Christ’s truth.
“Jesus, of course, is the way, the truth, and the life. Satan is the father of lies. Satan wants us to believe that things were our fault that weren’t our fault. He wants us to feel guilt, feel shame, feel anger, feel regret. Then we at Set Free specifically introduce a lot of people to spiritual warfare [and] taking every thought captive. The techniques are pretty similar, regardless of what they’ve been through.”
Freedom from Addiction
A lot of servicemen and women are also dealing with addictions developed as a way to cope with the pain and trauma — drug abuse, alcoholism, pornography addiction, self-harm.
Warriors Set Free wants to see vets find freedom from these addictions that keep them enslaved and isolated.
“A lot of the vets are forced to cover over sin — not only sin done to them, you know, a lot of evil done to them, but also evil they participated in and under. When they try to cover that over and hide it, secrets make you sick. So what we want to see is healthy vets helping hurting vets,” says Prince.
He references Luke 4:18 as a scriptural handhold for vets:
“The Spirit of the Lord is on me, because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor. He has sent me to proclaim freedom for the prisoners and recovery of sight for the blind, to set the oppressed free.”
“That’s really the mission statement of Jesus in Luke 4:18. So it’s quite simple…. That’s for the vet, and that’s for the first responder. That’s for everyone who is brokenhearted and oppressed and trying to keep secrets in and they’re trying to manage pain. It just doesn’t work. It has to come out,” Prince says.
“If we can get a wounded vet who has been oppressed and hurting and has been medicating with drugs and alcohol, and really the Lord Jesus touches him or her very deeply and sets that captive free, that former captive becomes the next warrior for the next group. We really believe that and that’s what we’re seeing.”
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SOURCE: Mission Network News, Lyndsey Koh