In so many communities like ours across the country, people have taken time this summer to remember the 75th anniversary of D-Day.
We recall that historic moment when troops landed on the beaches of Normandy, France helping to bring an end to World War II.
At the recent Star Spangled Spectacular held at Auburn UMC, current D-Day veterans were honored and many family members recalled their loved ones who served in that great battle.
One of the most moving moments for me during this year’s Spectacular occurred when veterans from branches of the armed services were honored. As many veterans in our church and community stood and were applauded, I thought of some of the statistics about veterans that I have recently discovered.
Did you know that according to the State of Alabama Department for Veteran Affairs, there are close to 400,000 veterans living in our state. There are over 9,000 veterans in Lee County alone, and at Auburn University there are close to 1,000 veterans serving as professors, administrators, and students.
We give thanks and pray for the many who have served as well as for their families.
Recently leaders of the Auburn UMC Veterans Ministry were trained to help those who have served understand the complexity and impact of PTSD (Post Traumatic Stress Disorder) upon themselves and their families.
It is important to note that not every veteran has PTSD and one does not have to serve in the military to experience PTSD.
Witnessing any life threatening event such as a car accident, a tornado or a moment in battle can cause our bodies and minds to react and relive trauma. The good news is there are many effective treatments for PTSD and one of them involves gathering, talking, sharing and participating in a community where one feels seen and heard.
I give thanks for the many leaders we have in the church and community who are now active in our new Veterans Ministry at Auburn UMC.
Last year, John Wingfield and other leaders help launch this new outreach. This group of women and men gather for a quarterly luncheon of fellowship, encouragement, and sharing of information.
If you or any one you know would like to participate please let us know as we long to care for the many among us who have served.
Dr. Cory Smith is the Senior Minister of Auburn United Methodist Church. He is a graduate of the University of Southern Mississippi, The Candler School of Theology at Emory University and Columbia Theological Seminary in Decatur, Georgia. He is married to Alicia, and they have one daughter, Sarah Morgan.