Happy Thanksgiving

On October 3, 1863, in the midst of the bloodiest war America has ever fought, Abraham Lincoln issued a proclamation “to set apart and observe the last Thursday of November next, as a day of Thanksgiving and praise to our beneficent Father who dwelleth in the Heavens.”

All of us wish the men and women of our Armed Forces a Happy Thanksgiving.  We thank you for serving our country and we pray for your safety.  We also wish a Happy Thanksgiving to our military families – the most special group of all.

Only those who have experienced an airport or pier-side goodbye hug for a loved one leaving in uniform truly know what they endure.  Alone on this Thanksgiving, they bravely shoulder their families’ burdens because words like “duty” and “service” mean something to them.

Thank you and God Bless all of you this Thanksgiving.

MCA’s Executive Director’s Notes – Women Veterans Summit

MCA Fr. Razz Waff’s Executive Director’s Notes

This past Thursday I was fortunate to be able to attend the Women Veterans’ Summit in Knoxville, supported by Vet to Vet Tennessee. VTVT is one of MCA’s strategic partners with the Veteran/Military Friendly Congregation (VMFC) ministry. They along with along with the Episcopal Church’s lay men’s organization, The Brotherhood of St. Andrew (BSA) work together to help congregations across our land to be more military friendly. Continue reading “MCA’s Executive Director’s Notes – Women Veterans Summit”

New Veteran/Military Friendly Congregation in Vonore Tennessee

Pastor Mitch Ingram enrolls his Lakeside Missionary Baptist Church into MCA’s VMFC network after being elected as Monroe County Tennessee Mayor.  Before his election, Pastor Ingram was not aware of the VMFC program but enrolled as soon as he learned about it.  Mayor/Pastor Ingram also supports Veterans Courts, Expungement Clinics, Celebrate Recovery and suicide prevention.

Lakeside Missionary Baptist Church has a very active youth group.  Pastor Ingram has agreed to accept a QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper training scholarship from Vet to Vet Tennessee (VTVT) to train his youth leaders and youth about suicide prevention.  VTVT not only provides scholarships to VMFCs but also provides all of the suicide prevention material at no cost to the Church.  To learn more about QPR Suicide Prevention Gatekeeper training please visit the QPR Institute here.

Parenting for Service Members & Veterans

The U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs is offering a new parenting course resource for Veterans and their families. This free online course provides parents with tools that strengthen parenting skills and helps them reconnect with their children. There are 6 modules within the course that focus on the following areas: [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] 

• Back into the family
• Promoting positive parent-child communication
• Helping your child with difficult emotions and behaviors
• Positive approach to discipline
• Managing stress and emotions as a parent
• Parenting with emotional and physical challenges

The courses are intended to:

• Helps parents deal with both everyday problems and family issues that are unique to the military lifestyle.
• Features stories from actual Veteran/military families, interactive activities, and practical parenting tips.
• Is anonymous and registration is not required. No personal information is ever requested or stored by the website
Please visit https://www.veterantraining.va.gov/parenting/ to get started.
Don’t have time to review the entire course?
• Quick links are available for each module of the course that allows you to review the information that is most relevant to you.
• A Parenting2Go mobile app is available to users of iOS devices (iPhone, iPad, iPod Touch).
• The app is free and can be downloaded here.  [/read]

Helping Hands program giving away shoes and school supplies to kids in need

As the time to head back to school approaches Rio Revolution Church in Maryville Tennessee is giving away free shoes and school supplies to thousands of kids in need; actual attendance was over 8,250 with 670 volunteers.  The Rio Revolution Church is a proud member of the Military Chaplains Association of America’s /Military Friendly Congregation and conducted their 14th annual “Helping Hands” program.

“One gentleman who is a grandfather, was leaving the group after I spoke and he turned around and he looked at me and said ‘if it wasn’t for this event these grandchildren would not have shoes because my daughter is in prison’,” said Pastor Pacer Hepperly Rio Revolution. “He said thank you so much for just doing this.” [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]

“A minimum of $50 dollars a piece,” said Susan Spalding, who came with her eight children. “That’s $400, so, it’s a huge savings for us and a great help.”

Rio Revolution is also ministering to those who want to hear God’s word.

“We have our pastor and Nick to talk to them,”  said Charlie Ewing with the event.  “Talk to them about Jesus and give them an opportunity to accept Christ which to us is very exciting.  This is what we live for.  We want to minister to the kids of Blount County.  It is awesome.”

Not every congregation can support such a large program but every congregation can make a difference in our Veteran/Military communities.  Consider enrolling in the VMFC network.[/read]

NC Lay Leader Honors Vietnam War Veteran Surviving Spouse in Ohio

Ray Wease, Lay Leader of Crossroads United Methodist Church of Concord North Carolina, travels to Manchester Ohio to present the Vietnam War Commemoration Certificate of Honor to Ms. Pat Sullivan.

“Here is a pic of me presenting the Vietnam surviving spouse award to Ms. Pat Sullivan (Larry Sullivan was the Vietnam vet who served in Vietnam in 1967-68). This presentation happened on Saturday, July 7, 2018 in Manchester Ohio. It was an honor for me to do this for my friends of over 50 years.”  Ray Wease [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] Bless you Ray for loving our brothers and sisters.

Pastor Lowell McNaney enrolled Crossroad UMC into the VFMC network on August 7, 2017 and publicly recognized military, veteran and veteran surviving spouse   Crossroads UMC Recognition of Congregation Veterans post. 

Recognition of Congregation Veterans/Military and their spouse is one of the recommended programs in the VMFC basic manual.

If you are interested in recognizes your veteran members, please contact Vet to Vet Tennessee to learn more about the program.  As Vietnam War Commemoration partner, VTVT will be honored to provide your VMFC with free VWC material including the Presidential Proclamation and lapel pin.

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Network Establishing Reunions

Welcome Home Mr. Henry Hunter Jr. from Fountain City, TN!   On July 7, 2017 Vet to Vet Tennessee received an emailed from Agostino Alberti, a Lombardy Italian teacher and a member of the archaeological group Air Crash Po, about a WWII American Airman dog tag found in wooded, Apennines mountains area  of Italy.

According to Ago, his “friend Tommaso Teora was investigating a wooded area “between Lucca and Pistoia”, looking for the crash-point of a B-17F bomber which was shot down during a bombing mission over the Bologna main M/Y on October 3, 1943 and he and another researcher named Francesco Pioli have found the dog tag.”  According to Mr. Hunter’s family, Mr. Hunter and his crew made a raft using the wing of the craft, and they floated down the river until they met up with Italian partisans who assisted them in returning to American forces.

Through our partnerships with the Knox County Mayor’s Office and one of our Veteran/Military Friendly Congregations Fountain City United Methodist Church, and a local mortician and military history enthusiast, Mr. Hunter’s family was found.

Such an honor to assist in bringing an artifact home from our soldiers and inform his family.  We are grateful and honored to Agostino Alberti, Tommaso Teora, Francesco Pioli, Luca Merli, Jeff Berry, Buzz Buswell, Fountain City United Methodist Pastor John Gargis and www.tnvhc.org for bringing all of this together.  We are truly blessed.

Third VMFC to enroll in Texas

June 26, 2018  DeSoto, Texas

MCA received an online enrollment request from Saint Anne Episcopal from DeSoto Texas.  Reverend  Dr. James Harris is the Church Rector and Charla Truesdale is their Lay Leader.

Let us welcome and pray for our second Veteran/Military Friendly Congregation.  If you wish to welcome Saint Anne Episcopal Church please contact Charla at charla@warriorspiritproject.org

If you would like to enroll your church or ministry, please click here.

New VMFC Host Suicide Prevention Instructor Course

Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee awarded a 2018 Phase I grant  to Vet to Vet Tennessee (VTVT) for their initiative “Veteran/First Responder QPR Suicide Prevention on June 6, 2018 at the Cherokee Country Club.

Trinity Health Foundation of East Tennessee extends the healing ministry of Jesus by improving the physical, emotional and spiritual health of our community.  Each grantee is assigned a Trinity Health Foundation Liaison; VTVT was assigned – The Very Reverend John Ross and Joe Johnson.

Rio Revolution Church,  a VMFC in Maryville Tennessee, has agreed to host the training on August 20, 2018.   Two (2) members of Rio have already enrolled in QPR Suicide Prevention Instructor Course including Pastor Devan Lipsey and their Lay Leader.  [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] 

VTVT is offering 20 $500.00 QPR Suicide Prevention Instructor training scholarship thanks to the generosity of Trinity, Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett and VTVT members.  The scholarships are offered to all active VMFCs .

The Phase I Final Report and Phase II Proposal is due on September 5, 2018.  The Phase II grant is worth $50,000.00 and due in September.  If approved, VTVT to train 100 VMFCs, faith-based communities and non-VA mental health care provider members.

Phase 2 grant will focus on training youth leaders because suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death of ages 15-24.

If you would like to learn more about suicide prevention please leave us a message below.

Pray and work…for God and Country.

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Executive Director Notes Veteran/Military Friendly Congregations

Veteran/Military Friendly Congregations (VMFCs) are worshipping congregations and communities which consciously and visibly seek to be friendly to veterans, military members, and their families. This is a ministry of the MCA which we received from Care for the Troops in 2016 and which has shown great promise as we make it known around the nation. The VMFC ministry got a shot in the arm with a phone conference on May 2nd at the National Executive Committee (NEC) meeting when Everett Price called in to see what could be done by us partnering with another the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, which is an Episcopalian organization established for lay men in the Episcopal Church.

[read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] 

Ev serves as the Vice President, Military Affairs, for the Brotherhood of St. Andrew and after the call MCA President, Chaplain Mike Langston appointed Chaplains Matt Woodbery, Ron Skaggs, Donnie Hays, Clifton Montgomery, and Phil Clark to explore how we might go about furthering this partnership and advancing this needed ministry in our nations congregations. As it turned out, it also included partnering with Ed Junod, the President of Vet to Vet Tennessee, which has also been attempting to do the same thing. After a flurry of emails between Ev, Ron and Ed, along with some excellent suggestions from Jack Figel, the MCA office administrator, the VMFC ministry is advancing at a rapid pace.

As noted earlier, we are currently in the process of re-designing the website and looking at additional social media ways to connect with chaplains, and also with those who might want to keep initiatives such as these in front of chaplains. Having a network of congregations across the country who understand the challenges facing those who serve, or have served, in the military has been a goal of MCA that has had some starts and stops over the years. It now appears that using a “team of teams” approach between MCA, the Brotherhood of St. Andrew, and Vet to Vet Tennessee is paying dividends. We look forward to adding to the team as we go forward.

One of the things I learned very quickly as a General Officer is that there is remarkable wealth in the people and organizations who want to help and support the military. Getting them all talking with each other, however, is indeed a challenge. The recent events in the VMFC ministry are certainly steps in the right direction. If any of you are aware of any congregations who want to step up to the plate and are supportive of military families, veterans and their families, please let Matt Woodbery, Ron Skaggs and Ev Price know at, respectively, mwoodbery@hotmail.com, 1stSgtSkaggs@gmail.com or evpricega@gmail.com.

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