Value of Faith-Based Network for Veteran Transitioning

In communities across our country, local faith leaders find themselves on the front lines of helping our returning veterans with issues ranging from suicide and domestic violence to basic needs assistance. Spiritual wellness, along with emotional, physical, social and family wellness, makes up one of the National Guard's "Five Pillars of Wellness", which are seen as a roadmap to resiliency. Whether or not one connects with a religion, spiritual wellness means finding a sense of hope and belonging, and therefore not becoming isolated.

Over a three year period, the Lincoln Community Foundation has funded a faithbased organization that strives to bring all faith communities together in common spirit and purpose to work hand in hand within the county area. They organized their Second Annual Faith Community Disaster Preparedness Conference last month. Knowing that our veterans are hard-wired for service and volunteering, they have been working with the Southeast Nebraska Emergency Response Group to organize veterans to assist with follow-up services after disasters. In conjunction with the local disaster scenario they have identified 730 faith-based groups within Lancaster County and are compiling a Faith Community Directory as a resource that will identify which faith communities would be able to supply space for beds and kitchens for serving hot meals if needed.

They have initiated a "Vets to Vets" program in local churches to provide "safe places" for veterans to meet and share in a non-threatening environment. Some services have been provided to older vets, such as rides to appointments. The organization has sponsored a Traumatic Brain Injury and PTSD Treatment Training Seminar as well as partnered with a local addiction and mental health organization on a "Veterans in Transition" program. We know that transitioning back to civilian life is difficult for our men and women who have served in Iraq and Afghanistan. Yes, of course, they are in need of the social capital that helps them connect to educational and job opportunities, but the Lincoln Community Foundation feels it would be remiss to overlook the inestimable value of the relational network our faith communities can provide.

Rob McMaster 

Rob McMaster
Internal Operations Coordinator
Lincoln Community Foundation, Inc.