I grew up ending each day on my knees praying for my uncles who were serving in the Vietnam War. Their names were mentioned at meal times. We spoke of them throughout the days. POW bracelets were given to my older cousins at Christmas. Joyful reunions between tours; tears when they departed once again. They all came home, and nearly all died early deaths related to the experiences and sacrifices they made while serving in the military.
Last week I had the honor of being with a group of veterans who gathered at Franklin First United Methodist Church. Dr. Fred Kimbrell, a retired army surgeon, convened the group for fellowship and a program called QPR: Question.Persuade.Refer. It is a suicide prevention class. My joy was teaching. Of course, they taught me far more than I taught them!
I was amazed at the willingness of this group to learn how they can help prevent death by suicide. Their desire to be equipped to help someone who is struggling was inspiring. And yet, it should not be a surprise. These are men and women who step into some of the hardest places of life and serve in whatever way is needed. They do not “outgrow” their commitment to help and serve. It is who they are and the way they live in this world. They serve on our behalf in the military; they serve with us in civilian life.
Words don’t always come easy, and gratitude has many expressions. However we are able to say, “thank you” to our veterans today, let’s do it. Let’s not wait; do not let this day go by unnoticed.
Holy God, we know that nothing is hidden from your sight, and nothing we ever do diminishes the love you offer us. The men and women who serve on our behalf have sacrificed in ways we will never know. In times of war and peace, they give themselves in service for our country. The stories they hold within their hearts and minds are known by you. You hold the deepest wounds and the greatest triumphs with the same love. We humbly and boldly ask that you bless our veterans with healing, peace, and grace. Give them strength when it is needed, humility in moments where it is warranted, and wisdom to guide each and every step. Guard them with the shield of faith that only your Spirit can provide. We give thanks for each of them. For their lives, their service, their families, and their sacrifices. By your grace, Creator God, please lead us all into a world of peace where the call for war is no more. Amen.
Would you like to know more about suicide prevention? In our community we are teaching QPR: Question, Persuade. Refer. This short certification class will equip you to recognize and respond when someone is struggling and at risk for death by suicide. Like CPR for situations of cardiac arrest, QPR saves lives and we are committed to doing what we can to equip our community to respond. Follow this link to be informed about upcoming classes. Or comment on this post and I’ll follow up with you to help you find a class.
Find Hope Franklin is committed to bring hope and help to neighbors with mental health needs. Suicide prevention is one of our Mayor’s intentional efforts to reduce the stigma and provide help. Whether you are looking for a resource for yourself or someone else, Find Hope Franklin is a source created for you! https://findhopefranklin.com