Our community is different from most in the country. We share our community with Fort Stewart/Hunter AAF and other military units. The men and women of the armed services bear an enormous responsibility in combat readiness. They possess an unswerving loyalty and eagerness to defend freedom at home and abroad.
And while our troops are training and deployed to other parts of the world, their husbands, wives, children and other family members are left behind to face responsibilities and problems. Many of these problems, some small, some huge, are a part of their world every day for up to a year or more. For many, the problems remain long after their loved one has returned.
Many issues dealt with by service members and their families are not easy to understand. There often isn’t enough trained support to listen to those in need and help them sort things out.
A Stephen Minister can make a difference. Many of the men and women in our ministry are former service and retired military members. They understand what you may be going through. They have endured deployments. They had to leave their families behind.
The following scenario illustrates a very real problem many military families face. Names have been changed to protect privacy and ensure confidentiality.
“Becky’s husband Tom was five months into his fourth deployment. When he returned from his most recent deployment, he seemed so different, changed and distant.
“Becky had expected their lives to pick up where they left off the minute he walked back through the door. The kids shared Becky’s expectations. But things had changed. The closeness Becky and Tom had shared was gone. He was distant with the kids. Tom used drinking as an excuse and was unwilling to talk about his feelings. Tom’s behavior caused a lot of damage. And now he was gone again for another tour.
Becky’s world was crashing down around her. The kids were having trouble at school. She was so depressed she didn’t want to get up in the morning or go to sleep at night. Becky had seen counselors, which helped some, but the counselors’ schedules were always booked and she could only see them once or twice a month. Becky needed someone she could talk to. She needed someone who would be there for her every day or even the middle of the night.
Becky called Stephen Ministry and was assigned a minister, who came to her aid and will continue to support Becky and her family for as long as it takes.
Military families have needs that must be taken care of right here and now. Stephen Ministers deal with situations like Becky and Tom’s, including initial, repeat and long-term separation, help with budgeting of finances, PTSD issues with spouses, anxiety and depression, problems with children in school and behavioral circumstances, personal relationship issues, substance abuse and inter-family concerns.
I will continue to address deployment and post-deployment issues in my next Stephen column.
Stephen Ministry is totally confidential, gender sensitive and there is never a cost. If you or someone you know could benefit from a Stephen Minister, call Scherer at 320-7840.