A Chaplain’s Story
Stories of Faith in Action 2009
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ANBAR PROVINCE, IRAQ
By the Rev. Steve Timm
A soldier’s burden doesn’t disappear when the rucksack is empty. I’m a full-time pastor and a chaplain in the National Guard. In 2006 I was called up for duty. For 20 months I left behind my family and congregation and ministered among the soldiers and Marines in Anbar Province, Iraq.
The Rev. Steve Timm is a full-time pastor and chaplain in the National Guard.
Coming home from that experience was a day to rejoice. The danger and separation were finally over and I could lay that burden down. Yet some burdens were only beginning.
Soldiers often don’t realize how much the war changed them until they have been home for a month or even a year. There’s the trauma of the violence and the guilt for friends who didn’t make it back. There might be anger or depression that takes months to surface. The worst is a sense of isolation because people around you haven’t been there and you’re convinced they couldn’t possibly understand.
The ELCA has always supported the ministry of its chaplains and care for returning veterans and their families. This ministry needs to continue long after the mobilizations are over. I know I’ve looked to this church for help with my own burdens. I’m thankful for those in the ELCA who stand behind veterans, take the time to learn our needs, and carry the burdens of combat alongside us.