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Outreach USA connects military community with important spiritual resources

shutterstock_108233207Recently we talked with James Mukoyama, U.S. Army Major General (Retired, 1964-1995) and President of Military Outreach USA, who says that there are an estimated 400,000 veterans who will be returning to civilian life in the coming years, and we need more military-friendly institutions like National Louis University to reach them.

Tell us about Military Outreach USA.

Military Outreach USA is a Christ-centered ministry network that acts as a bridge to connect any service member, veteran and their family members, with the resources available to meet their needs — regardless of spiritual orientation, religious preference, race or gender. The organization exists to encourage, engage, educate, and equip individuals and churches throughout the nation to provide a support role to our military community impacted by the visible and invisible wounds of military service.

What do you mean when you say “visible and invisible” wounds?

Some veterans have sustained physical wounds in combat, and many have survived wounds that in previous wars would have been fatal. Others have incurred invisible wounds, such as post-traumatic stress and moral injury, which are treatable if the service member seeks treatments.

What is “moral injury?”

There’s a Department of Veterans Affairs-recognized condition called “moral injury,” which creates a great deal of conflict among military service members. The best way to describe moral injury is that from birth until our late teens, we develop a personal moral code of right and wrong. In the military, we learn to do or participate in things that might result in a violation of our personal moral code, such as killing. In combat, servicemen and women constantly are moving from one operation to another and do not have time to reflect or address this moral injury. As a result, there is a great deal of unresolved grief. Unlike post-traumatic stress, an injury caused by physical events, moral injury is an internal conflict. Treatment for moral injury is not through a medical doctor or drugs but is addressed with grace, forgiveness, and the love of God through clergy and the support and fellowship of the spiritual community.

How does Military Outreach USA help military service members with moral injury and other struggles they experience returning to civilian life?

Military Outreach USA’s vision is within the next five years to have 35,000 churches nationwide that have outreach programs for our military. These programs will provide a welcoming, safe environment willing to help them resolve real-life problems through agencies and individuals qualified to help. This help can include everything from simply acknowledging the service and sacrifice of our military community to invitations to prayer groups. In essence, our organization connects military veterans with the resources and support they need to work through conditions, like moral injury, so they can move forward and live a fulfilling life post-military.

How does Military Outreach USA work with NLU?

Any student in NLU’s Veterans Program who is searching for spiritual services is connected to Military Outreach USA.  

How does my church get involved?

For information on how your house of worship can receive Military Outreach USA resources at no cost to the church or those who receive the services, visit www.militaryoutreachusa.org.