Our Opinion: Churches enlist to help Guard with conflict
News Tribune editorial
Friday, June 22, 2012
Some conflicts soldiers face do not take place on a battlefield.
In an effort to cultivate resources for military men and women, the Missouri National Guard has launched Partners in Care.
The program is designed to forge partnerships between the Guard and churches throughout the state.
Churches are not asked to develop new resources, but only to make existing resources available to Guard members. Those resources may include faith-based programs or counseling that address trauma, stress, loss, strained relationships and suicidal thoughts.
More than 50 representatives from a variety of religious organizations recently attended a Partners in Care meeting at the Ike Skelton Training Facility.
The meeting provided an opportunity for Guard officials to explain the program and invite churches to sign a partnership memorandum. The document shows the Guard is welcoming involvement, not advocating religious preference.
The Guard’s 11,500 members live in each of Missouri’s 114 counties, and a goal of the program is to secure at least one church partner is each county.
“I am overwhelmed by the desire of our faith communities to support our soldiers, airmen and their families,” said Col. Gary Gilmore, a Guard chaplain. “They do have strengths and they do want to share them.”
A secondary benefit of the partnerships is disaster response.
Both the Guard and churches are among responders when natural disasters displace residents and create hardships.
Partners in Care provides a mechanism for military and church members to coordinate efforts and enhance efficiency.
Gilmore characterized the program by observing: “Together we can bring all our resources to care for our soldiers in need.”
And, by extension, addressing the needs of Guard members helps equip them to attend to the care and protection of everyone.