Coming Home: Ministry That Matters with Veterans and Military Families
by Zachary Moon
Coming home from military service is a process of reconnection and reintegration that is best engaged within a compassionate community. Zachary Moon, a commissioned military chaplain, has seen the unique challenges for those adjusting to post-war life. In this book, he prepares congregations to mobilize a receptive and restorative ministry with veterans and their families. Discussion questions and other resources included will help support small-group dialogue and community building.
Listen to Zachary answer How Can Pacifists Support Our Troops at QuakerSpeak.com. Coming home from military service is a process of reconnection and reintegration that is best engaged within a compassionate community.
There are almost 20 million veterans and service members living in the United States, including more than one million Americans deployed to Iraq or Afghanistan since 2001. Post-war life can be challenging unless there are communities responding with compassion and hospitality. How churches welcome and respond will be critical to the well-being of our nation’s veterans, their families, our local communities, and our nation.
Zachary Moon, a commissioned military chaplain, has seen the unique challenges for those adjusting to post-war life. In this book, he prepares congregations to mobilize a receptive and restorative ministry with military service members and their families. Designed to be accessible to both clergy and laypersons, this is an ideal resource for individuals or small groups interested in addressing the opportunities and challenges facing veterans and their families. Discussion questions and other resources included will help support small-group dialogue and community building.
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"Do you have a combat veteran in your congregation? If the answer is yes—buy this book. Is there a combat veteran in your family? If the answer is yes—buy this book. Do have a combat veteran as a friend and you are trying to understand him or her? If the answer is yes—buy this book. For the past few years I have toyed with the idea of writing an update to the 1945 The Church and the Returning Soldier. Now I can set that idea aside – Zachary Moon has done it. Coming Home is timely, accessible, informative, and practical. Developed with input from a variety of combat veterans, Coming Home overcomes the ‘genuine understanding’ obstacle, which causes so many well-intentioned books to falter. The author has created a valuable format of presenting a concept, followed by a Bible Study, followed by reflective discussion questions. Finally, the book is concise. It lends itself to a quick read through for the purpose of orientation and then an extended engagement as the Bible Study and reflective discussion questions are fully explored. What will you gain from reading this book? Many needed insights: Why do young men and women join the military; how that service shapes the very identity of the men and women who serve; why honorable service can leave the service member feeling betrayed or worse; why, ‘Thank you for your service’ often triggers a negative rather than positive response; why the typical ‘victim/prey’ based PTSD definition is inadequate when responding to combat veterans struggling with issues stemming from their combat exposure. These issues and more are explored in Coming Home. Most importantly in reviewing these concerns, the reader is given tools to answer the vital question of how the concerned friend/pastor/priest/etc. can respond in an appropriate way.....The author rightly states, ‘We all need a reminder of God's grace sometimes, and every one of us can be that reminder for someone in the way we listen and respond.’ But to do that one must have at least a working knowledge of the unique challenges that combat veterans face which create the need for grace. Coming Home will provide the reader with the needed insights to make inroads with combat veterans. In the much earlier The Church and the Returning Soldier, the author stated that the church would get one chance to properly welcome the returning veteran and thereby be allowed to make a difference in their lives. The same is true today. Equip yourself for this vital task; read Coming Home."
―Steven G. Rindahl, Academy of Parish Clergy, Course Developer/Instructor, Department of Pastoral Ministry Training, Ft. Sam Houston, TX, Sharing the Practice: The Journal of the Academy of Parish Clergy, June 2015
"Congregations using this guide will discover how to be better friends to all those we love, and we will become stronger communities in the process. We will more deeply incarnate a lifegiving, transformative wholeness in a larger society anxious about the future, reactive to threats, resigned to disposable relationships, and distracted by consumerism. ... Readers will find in these pages a valuable guide to being a better friend to those who, like my own father, serve their country and come home from war forever changed. If this book had existed in 1968, my relationship with my father, our entire family, and my adult life would have been very different—and, I know with certainty, transformed for the better. I am glad this book has finally been written. We all need it."
—Dr. Rita Nakashima Brock, Research Professor of Theology and Culture and Founding Co-Director of the Soul Repair Center at Brite Divinity School
"I was deployed to the Middle East, as an Army Reserve chaplain, in August 2005 and redeployed home over sixteen months later. Most of the wounds of war that I dealt with, while I served as a chaplain, were of the mind, heart and soul. Upon my return home I gave myself about five weeks to reintegrate, get my life together and to return to the local church that I was serving. I thought, after all that should be long enough, I am a chaplain and I am in the business of making it right. I was wrong; it was not nearly long enough. ... A volume such as Zachary Moon’s Coming Home would have been invaluable upon my return. I would have handed a copy to every member of my congregation. It is not that they were not loving, caring, accepting, and welcoming but more that we all just wanted to get back to 'normal' as quickly as possible. Coming Home would have shown us, and given us the permission, to take our time."
—Rev. Stephen B. Boyd, CH (COL-ret), US Army Reserve, United Church of Christ
"Coming Home: Ministry that Matters with Veterans and Military Families is THE book for people of faith who want to start a ministry to military personnel and their families. The theological reflections coupled with practical suggestions and resources make this book an ideal study guide for small groups or individuals. I wish this book had been available for the congregations I served as pastor!"
—Col. Robert C. Leivers, Chaplain, US Air Force Reserve (ret)
"Coming Home is an excellent resource for individuals, study groups, mission committees, and congregational care teams in faith communities who want to engage in informed and caring relationships with military service persons, veterans, and their families. Moon offers a compelling and richly thoughtful invitation into such ministries. He helps readers recognize that walking beside those coming home from war and their families gives congregations opportunities to deepen faith and practice."
—Dr. Nancy J. Ramsay, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Pastoral Care, Brite Divinity School
"Zachary Moon shows us how to build bridges where gulfs and gaps often exist between congregations and veterans and their families. Moon paves a way to bring the resources and strengths arising from military service into congregational life. He links the rich resources of congregations to veterans coming home. This well-written and usable book takes veterans and congregations into territory that they will be relieved to discover and inhabit together."
—Dr. Larry Kent Graham, Professor of Pastoral Theology and Care, Iliff School of Theology
"Home, as a metaphor, describes that which is worth living for and dying for simultaneously. Using the metaphor of 'coming home,' which is as much a metaphor for the inward faith journey as it is a physical journey from one geography to another, Moon offers a great gift to the nation as he walks both congregants and veterans alike through a much needed paradigm shift on how to develop ministries for our returning military men and women. Presenting a comprehensive picture of the psycho-social-spiritual dynamics and witness of military personnel and their families, he carefully sensitizes the reader to the cultural nuances of military life as he introduces helpful perspectives on how returning veterans and congregants can, through mutuality, both find the way home as people of faith."
–Dr. Lee Butler, Professor of Theology and Psychology and Founder, Center for the Study of Black Faith and Life, Chicago Theological Seminary
"Within the peace-church tradition, so many of us are completely ill-equipped to respond lovingly or helpfully to members of the military or their families. Because of our inability to see beyond the war and violence we reject, we miss the opportunity to see individuals who may actually share our passionate quest for peace, purpose, community—and God. Zachary Moon’s Coming Home refocuses our attention on the person now home from battle and wondering if there is a place for them in our congregation. The combination of story, bible study, and reflection questions makes this a very useful resource for faith communities interested in learning to accompany military personnel along a healing and transformation journey we all need."
–Colin Saxton, General Secretary, Friends United Meeting
"This book will help congregations 'bring military service members and their families home'—really home. For such homecomings both congregations and service members need to be transformed. This book will guide in that process toward healing and wholeness. We've been waiting for this book."
–Rev. Dr. Sharon Watkins, General Minister and President, Christian Church (Disciples of Christ), and author of Whole: A Call for Unity in Our Fragmented World