Life after combat for Afghanistan veterans is filled with challenge and hope, as the abrupt end to America's longest war brings the fight home for many armed service members and fellow Christians. AFN spoke to former U.S. Army chaplain Col. David Giammona about the repercussions of war and a call to action for those involved.
In light of the chaotic end to the war in Afghanistan, he continues to offer encouragement to every veteran he encounters. "[I always remind them that] when the country asked them to go fight for freedom and to keep terrorism from coming to the shores of America, they did what they were supposed to do – and they did it very well," he shares.
Fighting for freedom comes with a price
Many of those in Afghanistan "gave the ultimate sacrifice of their lives" or "gave a limb or other body parts in this fight," Giammona acknowledges – then adds that for those who returned "the war isn't over – it's just beginning."
The United States, he predicts, will have to return to Afghanistan "sooner than later" – but in the meantime, the former Army officer advises the Christian community to come alongside those who have returned home. Appreciation for their sacrifices and specific prayers devoted to those who served are necessities, he explains.
"Pastors need to support the veterans in their congregation and acknowledge their service with praise," he suggests. "[Churches should] have counselors standing by and people ready to talk to the nation's heroes or their family members."
According to Giammona, believers in Christ should be "a listening ear" for those veterans who suffer from PTSD, for example – those who are discouraged, depressed, or on the brink of suicide.
"It must be understood that anyone who has been to war is going to come back differently," he states bluntly.
The former chaplain references Galatians 6:2, compelling Christians to "bear one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ." And that, he explains, requires a listening, caring attitude.
Is the Church ready for what awaits?
The former chaplain then takes it a step further, warning of the rise he sees in death, destruction, and persecution.
"Just as there were veterans who may not have been fully prepared for what they were going to see in war," Giammona argues, "the Church is also not prepared for the things happening now and what is about to be seen."
Which brings him to what he describes as "the million-dollar question": How could a God of love allow any of us to go through these things? The colonel answers his own question:
"God allows us to go through these things to show us that He can provide in the most difficult times, in the most hellish places – because a loving God can still be found in those places."
David J. Giammona and Troy Anderson are co-authors of "The Military Guide to Armageddon: Battle-Tested Strategies to Prepare Your Life and Soul for the End Times."