The current issue of Newsweek features a cover story on how military chaplains struggle with keeping faith in God against the backdrop of war.
I only served in the military during peacetime. I lived a pretty charmed life as a journalist, certainly compared to others who spent a significant time of their lives deployed or living in little green tents. When my mother came to visit me while I was stationed at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo. she marveled that there were so many buildings. I guess she was expecting a bunch of tents and foxholes.
Even though I had a pretty uneventful life as a military man, I’ll still have dreams about the Army. They usually have something to do with being in completely the wrong uniform, or even half dressed, and being late for physical training or a troop formation.
My dreams aren’t nothing like one chaplain cited in the Newsweek cover story:
“I still have dreams where I’m throwing up little flag-draped caskets,” says Chaplain (Maj.) Victor Chatham, who served with the National Guard in Kuwait in 2004, conducting funeral “ramp ceremonies” and debriefing traumatized soldiers. “It wasn’t so bad blessing one or two caskets, but when there were 13 at once, it’s a different kind of duty.” He retired from the guard shortly after that deployment and sought therapy. He’s still a believer, but he says “there is no way that questions of faith don’t come up in an atmosphere like that.”
When those who are charged with caring for soldiers have stress on this level, I can only imagine what the average soldier is feeling.