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.

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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.


Rio Revolution Celebrate Recovery Enrolls as a VMFM

On May 8, 2018 Rio Revolution Celebrate Recovery  began a “Welcome Home” share group led by Celebrate Recovery (CR) National Welcome Home Director Al North.

CR has been a successful Christ Centered 12 step program for over 25 years in over 29,000 congregations worldwide. Welcome Home is a new initiative by CR to identify veterans, military and their families and create Welcome Home share groups in existing CRs.

On May 10, 2018, Rio CR enrolled in the Veteran/Military Friendly Ministry program and becomes the sixth CR ministry in Eastern Tennessee.

Vet to Vet Tennessee President and Director North agreed to expand the Welcome Home program and encourage existing and new CRs to enroll in the Military Chaplain Association VMFC program.

Rio Revolution Church Enrolls in VMFC

Rio Revolution Church, Blount CountyTennessee

God gave Pastor Pacer Hepperly a dream of planting a church with a simple goal: to help people connect with God in order to reach their full potential.  39 people committed to help Pastor Pacer fulfill his dream and make it a reality. The first service was held at a local high school on January 7, 2007, with over 200 people in attendance.  Since then, God has blessed his church with steady incredible growth.

Rio’s mission statement is “Our vision is to see every man, woman, boy and girl that is a part of this ministry, develop to their full potential, and serve with excellence in the area of their giftedness, creating an atmosphere of unity, where lost people are drawn to Christ.”

On May 10, 2018 joined the Veteran/Military Friendly Congregation and has agreed to be a lead ministry since their mission includes citizens of Blount County. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] 

Vet to Vet Tennessee has partnered with the Rio Church beginning with the 49th Blount County Veterans Day on November 11, 2017.  The guest speaker at the event was VTVT President Freddie J. Owens, who passed away on Good Friday 2018.  His message included asking everyone to help find our veterans and their families and support improving the mind, body and spirit.  Pastor Pacer realized that our community needs to do more with the mind and body and an instant partnership was formed.

On May 8th, Rio Revolution Church Executive Pastor of Administration Devin Lipsey and VTVT President Ed Junod discussed VTVT’s Expungement Clinic program.  According to Pastor Devin, this type of program is exactly the mission of Rio and would love to participate in a clinic in Blount County.  Pastor Devin and Ed agreed to pray on the opportunity.

Two days after the conversation, Rio Revolution enrolled as a VMFC.

Please welcome Rio Revolution Church as our newest member.

Executive Pastor of Administration Devin Lipsey, 865-984-9200 Ext. 1005, devin.lipsey@riorevolution.com [/read]



Repairs for Heroes – Helping Vets with the Mind, Body, Spirit & Home

On October 12, 2017 Vet to Vet Tennessee announced their new collaborative veterans housing program with Blount County Habitat for Humanity (BHfH) and Maryville AMVETS Post 22 (Post).  “Repairs for Heroes”; repairs veterans/military mind, body, spirit and home.  Vet to Vet Tennessee trains mentors to interview veterans who need support including health & medical support, VA claims, suicide prevention and spiritual help.  The spiritual help is provided by VA Chaplain Services, Veteran/Military Friendly Congregations, Blount County Habitat for Humanity and Vet to Vet Tennessee.

April 21, 28, 2018.  Blount County, Tennessee.  The last two Saturdays were very busy for the partners of the Repairs for Heroes (RFH) program.  Partners Blount County Habitat for Humanity and Maryville Amvets Post 22 completed 2 wheel chair ramps for one disabled veterans and one disabled Vietnam War Veteran widow.  [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] 

These programs would not have been possible without the generosity and labor of the members of the Maryville Amvets Post 22.  We also want to thank Joe Rainwater for his construction leader and project management.

The featured image includes (left to right) Vet to Vet Tennessee (VTVT) President Ed Junod, veteran widow Betty Watson and Amvets Post 22 Commander Mark Frederick.

RFH team are now conducting after action reports after the completion of the project.  First lessons learned:  We have a GREAT team!  Several improvements in the construction process were identified and will be implemented in the future project including quality control.

Special recognition to Lowe’s for providing a substantial discount for Mrs. Watson ramp.

VTVT and Amvets Post 22 will be introducing the RFH program at the upcoming Amvets Tennessee convention in June 2018.  The convention will be held at the Glenstone Lodge in Gatlinburg TN from June 7th to the 10th.

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New VMFC Host Expungement Clinic in Rural TN

April 21st Vet to Vet Tennessee (VTVT) partnered with the University of Tennessee College of Law Professor Joy Radice, 10th Judicial District Criminal Court Judge Sandra Donaghy, Monroe County General Sessions/Veterans Court Judge Dwaine B. Thomas and Monroe County Court Clerk Marty Cook.  We are also grateful volunteers and support from the Knoxville Bar Association, TN Faith & Justice Alliance and the local pro-bono attorneys assisted by UT Law students,  This was the second expungement clinic co-hosted by UT College of Law and VTVT.

The clinic was held at Vet to Vet Tennessee’s Veteran/Military Friendly Congregation First Baptist Church of Madisonville, Tennessee.  Thanks to First Baptist Church Pastor Chris Moore and his church members, this venue provided the clinic members and clients with a great environment to conduct court.  Not only did they provide the facility, but they also provided 11 volunteers and breakfast for everyone.

In two weeks, 280 individuals registered and approximately 200 attended the clinic.  First expungement clinic to include a Circuit, Criminal, General Sessions and Veterans Court Judges.  We had over 60 volunteers.  Program was scheduled from 9:00am until Noon but but did not end until the last case was processed which occurred at 6:00PM.

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Before the opening comments at 9am, we were honored and surprised by a visit and support from Tennessee Supreme Court Justice Sharon Lee.

The clients were extremely happy with their result in the clinic.  Ashely  P. stated that “I have been one year sober and couldn’t have done it without my probation officer, church, meetings and support groups. God has bless me to come to this clinic, and they waived over $3,100.00. That is a miracle in itself.”  Click here to read clinic testimonies:

On behalf of Vet to Vet Tennessee and the Knoxville Regional Veterans Mental Health Council we thank God and all of the participants in creating a “restorative day.”  Judge Thomas 4-21-18

Click here to view more clinic photos.



Newest Veteran/Military Friendly Congregation in TN

On Februrary 7, 2018 Powell United Methodist Church Recovery & Disciplineship Pastor Brooke Hartman their Church into the VFMC program.

MCA and Vet to Vet Tennessee (VFMC Regional Coach) are honored and blessed to have Powell UMC as our newest member of the National VMFC and thank Pastor Hartman for their enrollment.

If you want to learn more about Powell UMC please visit their site by clicking here.

First Veteran/Military Friendly Ministry “Changes Lives” at Free Expungement Clinic

October 28, 2017 was a memorable experience for hundreds of citizens and volunteers who participated in the first FREE Knox County Expungement Clinic at the Beck Cultural Exchange Center despite the inclement weather.

This expungement clinic concept was brought to Vet to Vet Tennessee’s attention by one of the first Veteran/Military Friendly Ministries in the nation; Knoxville Step Up.

A new loving community emerged as over 300 individuals were served by over 100 volunteers. People caring and helping each other made this event a miracle.

Each person left the clinic with joy, relief, jubilance, and gratitude; many with tears of happiness.  Many thanked the volunteers for “changing my life.”  The Beck was packed from 8:45 am till 3:00 pm, three hours longer than scheduled; special thanks to General Sessions Judge Chuck Cerny and Municipal Court Judge John Rosson Jr. and Knox County District Attorney General Charme Allen who agreed to “stay until everyone in the building was served.” [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”]

The expungement clinic is a partnership among Knoxville Community Step Up, Beck Cultural Exchange Center, The University of Tennessee College of Law and Vet to Vet Tennessee with volunteers from Knox County Mayor Tim Burchett, Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero, The Tennessee Faith & Justice Alliance, the Knoxville Bar Association, the Knoxville Barristers (the Young Lawyers Division of KBA), Legal Aid of East Tennessee and the Knox County Public Defender’s Community Law Office.

“Thank you all so very much.  Together we were able to accomplish so much more that we could have on our own!  It was truly the epitome of fellowship, solidarity, and collaboration.”  10-30-17  Professor Joy Radice, UT College of Law

Vet to Vet Tennessee’s volunteers included Don Davis, Freddie Owens, Ed Junod, Karl Griffith and Randall Scott.

Monroe County General Sessions and Veterans Court Judge Dwaine B. Thomas attended the clinic and agreed to schedule an Expungement Clinic in Monroe and surrounding Counties with a partnership with the Expungement team in March 2018.

We thank God for this amazing life changing event and the countless unnamed volunteers.  Click here to view more clinic photos.

If you like to share your comments about the event or would more information about the Monroe County Expungement Clinic please leave a message below or contact Vet to Vet Tennessee at 865-336-2624.

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MCA’s New VMFC program

Our Story

Veteran/Military Friendly Congregation (VMFC) was conceived to promote a sense of community, acceptance and support for Veterans and their families.  Launched by Faith-Based Communities, it has beome an integral part of the Faith Based Initiative.   The mission is to mobilize an army of Veterans through diverse congregational groups who will support and assist those attending Veterans with special needs relative to their service. [read more=”Click here to Read More” less=”Read Less”] A key aspect of our Veteran Friendly  program is building a support structure for military members, veterans, and their family members in each and every community.  Congregations and congregation based programs are essential to getting this accomplished.  Building Military Ministries in each Congregation is our goal.  Please help us reach our brothers and sisters around the country by joining the program.  No cost to enroll.  No annual fees.  Just caring and sharing.

Please leave of us a message below to learn more or to join the program.

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VA Chaplain Service available since 1865

Veterans are 10 times more likely to go to clergy than all other Mental Health Providers. The VA Chaplain Service has been providing this service since 1865 and is an instrumental component of mental and spiritual health.

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