After more than a decade of war, few combat Veterans haven’t—at least once—had their faiths tested. For some, that test results in cynicism and mistrust regarding any higher power. But for others, the crucible of combat forges an even deeper connection to religion. VA knows that. And for this reason, the Department employs over 500 chaplains full-time, with nearly 500 more available to serve our Vets when needed. What many Vets don’t know, however, is that 45 percent of our chaplains are Veterans themselves—including nearly 20 percent who are disabled.
That’s why, on Wednesday, VA Under Secretary for Benefits Allison Hickey met with chaplains from across the country and told them:
You’ve witnessed those who suffer from the unseen wounds of war, such as those affected with post-traumatic stress or traumatic brain injuries, the signature injuries of the past 10 years of conflict. You’ve heard stories of faith and spirituality. Stories of faith tested, faith renewed, and faith reawakened, especially in those who served in harm’s way, who lost a limb, or lost a comrade in battle.
As Veterans, we know the wartime experience—whether on the battlefield or on the home front—can have an everlasting spiritual and emotional impact. So as Veterans transition into VA’s health care system, we stand ready to meet their spiritual needs—whatever they may be.
If you’re not familiar with VA Chaplains, visit the website for VA’s National Chaplain Center.