Yesterday, during training for the volunteers the two Chaplains for the WTB from BAMC, pronounced BAM-See (not to be confused with SAMC) and the Battalion Colonel (recently transferred from the DOD) were going over the basics of what we could expect from the soldiers and NMAs attending. They asked if we had any questions. My hand shot up, "Would you mind explaining the acronyms?"
Laughter erupted as they realized, for the most part we were a room of NMP's (non-military personnel). They tried to cover definitions of what their common language of letters referred to:
WTB=Warrior Transition Battalion
BAMC=Brooke Army Medical Center
SAMC=something I forgot already
DOD=Department of Defense
These NMAs can be spouses, mothers, girlfriends, friends, or other family members that qualify as people who have assumed care for the soldier but are not medical staff. They clean stitches, administer medication, mop up vomit, sanitize bed pans, and stuff gauze in gapping wounds waiting the next round of surgery. It was a gruesome litany of things I had to wonder if I could stomach. But somehow these people are doing the next thing needed.
The Chaplains weren't trying to scare or horrify us, they were stating a fact and using acronyms to communicate as efficiently as possible.
I suppose it's easy to feel gratitude for the military, but what about the mothers, the spouses, and the children that have equally made a commitment and sacrifice? The next few days we're trying to help bear the load, make them feel appreciated, pampered and recognized along with the soldier they serve.
"Put your life on the line for your friends. You are my friends when you do the things I command you." John 15:14 The Message
Several of the soldiers have service dogs, (they are not classified as NMAs), but at breakfast I learned in great detail the months of training these furry friends go through. I got my information from a career military officer I had stopped to make an apology to. I felt I owed him one after last night's "Minute to Win It" round of hilarity.
I noticed his spiked red hair from the stage and the fact that he was sitting in the back. "Spikey, come on down and play the Insulator game." I explained what was involved (one person wrapping another with two rolls of toilet paper). He stood and said, "your going to make a half-blind and deaf dude with PTSD, seizures and balance issues spin around?"
"Yes, I am," I said with confidence, "but you can take a seat and have someone else wrap you up." He complied and followed orders like a good soldier will always do. He wobbled slowly toward the front and took a chair. Little did I know the result would be his transformation into a MUMMY! His partner quickly determined the fastest way to wrap a seated individual was to focus on the head! On occasion (I imagine when he grew tired of holding his breath) he would raise his good hand to create a nostril space.
After all that, they didn't even win! Hence, the apology at breakfast. As I stopped him, my assistant asked to pet his dog, who had take a seat right in front of his legs. He proudly began explaining everything the dog did for him. (From alerting others when he has a seizure, to helping him pick himself up after he has taken a spill from the balance issues).
But it was the posture of the animal I found striking.
Frankie is not much to look at; no pure bred, no shiny coat or wagging tail, but she is definitely special. She sat at his feet between us. He pointed this fact out. "She's keeping the space to protect me. She's been trained to do this because of my PTSD. She will circle around me continuously if I'm in a group.
She knows the space let's me feel safe."
"I will talk to the Father, and He'll provide you with another Friend so that you'll always have someone with you. This Friend is the Spirit of Truth." John 14:16 The Message
Just then, little mutt Frankie didn't look much like an attractive dog, but a whole lot like the Holy Spirit. One specially equipped to comfort us in trials, to lead us beside still waters, and to reside between us and the enemies that consistently seek to disarm, disable and disrupt our world;
to give us a space to feel safe.
This is a critical time and place here in the LOTFAHOTB! Many in attendance may have survived a war but do not have their names written in the Lamb's Book of Life. We are fighting an unseen enemy on unfamiliar ground.
PRAY for the battle-weary NMAs. PRAY for the harvest.
PRAY for divine opportunities.
PRAY for healing physically, emotionally, and spiritually.
PRAY for the speaker to deliver a message that will minister to their souls.
We are guaranteed the victory, we are more than conquerors, but it is still a war and their are still casualties.
Outside I am wearing an outrageous wig, costume and smile
Inside I am CMFHO (figure it out)
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