Combat cameras — when we had trundled down to the banks of the Euphrates to witness a baptism, waded into the river up to our hips, praying we wouldn’t trip or stumble, we weren’t the only camera there. Click click, click. The same sound troops hear at their backs on missions and in trainings. I thought of their service and the risks they take when we stopped into the museum of the Cranbrook Art Academy. There, tucked in the display of works by alumni, a small section highlighted the work of some who had served as combat artists in World War 2. The glare was such that I had to stand way to one side so I am not doing justice with these snapshots to the efforts of men who, like our combat cameras today, sought to capture some of the truth about humans in battle.
Although the Humanity Explored film festival is over, there still seems to be a live link through another site: http://learni.st/learnings/86739-chaplains-under-fire
So if you want to stream the doc, you’ve got another chance (and, of course, there is always the DVD you can buy).
They're called "responders" - the folks at the other end of the Veterans Crisis Line. But they aren't the only ones serving on the front-line of suicide prevention.
As a society, as colleagues, as friends, as family, we cannot leave the work of suicide prevention to the "responders" alone.
It is up to all of us to act or at least "ask" if we see someone unduly stressed according to psychologist, Dr.
“We are trying to work up to what Sacred Well has,” says Jason Torpy of the Military Association of Atheists and Freethinkers. He is referring to the Sacred Well Congregation, a Wiccan church headquartered in Missouri.
Although the Sacred Well has not yet succeeded in having the military accept a member of its clergy into the chaplaincy, it is a recognized denomination in the military. This means that chaplains have to provide Wiccan lay leaders with logistical help, such as finding them a space for meetings or assistance in accessing study materials. Chaplains routinely do this for Christian, Jewish and other religious lay leaders in the military.
Humanists have no such standing in the military, where many balk at classifying non-theistic belief systems under the rubric of religion. This comes out most clearly in discussions surrounding calls for humanist chaplains. Indeed, a humanist who holds a divinity degree and an endorsement from the Humanist Society has submitted an application to the Navy to become a chaplain. This triggered fierce reactions — “The notion of an atheist chaplain is nonsensical; it’s an oxymoron,” Rep. John Fleming, a Republican from Louisiana, told reporters in June.
Not surprisingly, the humanist chaplain application “has lingered for three months,” says Torpy whose expression indicates he doesn’t expect a resolution any time soon. This may explain why he has set his sights on achieving what the Wiccans have: the ability for humanist troops to become lay leaders. In this role, they would be trained to assist the growing number of troops who profess no religious affiliation yet struggle with the same life issues as other servicemen and women. Indeed, humanist, atheists and agnostics a growing demographic of so-called NONES, Americans who do not identify with any religion and who, today, account for 30% of Americans under thirty.
As evidence of increasing support for the recognition of humanists and atheists, Torpy points to a petition signed by a diverse range of individuals and organizations, including some Christian churches. In calling for ” chaplaincy for all troops,” the petitioner ask “our national leaders to assure that military chaplains can adequately address the needs of the men and women in the Armed Services by providing support to humanists and other nontheists and by accepting otherwise qualified chaplain candidates who represent nontheistic beliefs.”
But there is also staunch opposition, witness the amendment to the Defense Appropriations bill that, if passed by the Senate, would bar the military from appointing a chaplain who does not have the endorsement of a religious organization.
As much as Torpy and believes that non-theists “need a humanist chaplain who can help them live the well-examined life,” his short-term goal is to gain recognition for lay leaders. ”Five thousand chaplains are not supporting atheists,” he says. He wants that to change. First, though, the military would have to recognize lay leaders representing a non-religious worldview.
We caught up with him at the Religion Newswriters Association conference in Austin where he sat on a panel that, over breakfast, illustrated to a room full of journalists the diversity within the ranks of atheists, agnostics, humanists and other non-theists.
A piece in Huffington Post blasts the Marine Corps for considering, the author writes, “those who do not profess a religious belief or choose to leave their religion are to be considered a potential hazard to themselves and the Corps and be placed under greater scrutiny than their peers.”
Let’s back up. At issue is a Marine Corps document that deals with, among other things, identifying Marines who might be prone to engaging in risky behavior. It reads:
It goes on to list 11 categories of these potential risk indicators, including such things as relationship problems, substance abuse, financial problems, and off-duty activities that include high-risk or anti-social behaviors. One of them has to do with Guidance/Moral Compass. It reads:
It is easy to see how a loss of spiritual faith might be a warning signal, since it could mean that a person is suddenly bereft of a belief system and community that provided great support. It is equally easy to see why the author, who works for the Military Religious Freedom Foundation, is irate at the inclusion of lack of spiritual faith as a marker. Plenty of people without any “spiritual faith” have a thought-out worldview from which they derive meaning and morality. Interestingly, a study published in the British Journal of Psychiatry concluded that people who profess to be spiritual but do not adhere to any one religion are more at risk for drug use and mental health problem than people who identify themselves as agnostic, atheist or religious.
It seems pretty clear that the determining factor in terms of mental health is not religious or spiritual faith but the presence or lack of a thought-out a worldview. So would it not be more accurate for the military — and the culture at large — to think and speak in terms of “worldviews” when dealing with practical, this-earthly-life issues? The question at hand was not religious in nature. The task was to identify indicators that would lead to risky behavior. And, in terms of mental stability, it is the fact that a person thinks about the role of individuals in the greater scheme, about the fact that individuals belong to a greater body of humanity — that is what’s important, not whether the framework is religious, humanist, or atheist.
Ron Eastes, a military chaplain we spent time with at War Eagle in Iraq, talked about working with soldiers “not of my faith, atheists, soldiers who understand the world differently.” When they came to him for counseling, it was not their lack of faith that put them at risk for problems. It was a bad marriage or financial issues. Similarly, Pat McLaughlin, with whom we spent time at TQ also in Iraq, talked about atheists whom he regarded as models in terms of their ethics and behavior. Would both have liked to see these men and women come to share their faith in Christ? Absolutely. Did either of them see in their lack of faith a cause for concern in terms of the stability and safety of the unit? No.
For the third year in a row, museums around the county are offering free admission to active duty military personnel and their families through Labor Day. At last count, about 2,000 institutions are participating in this Blue Star Museum initiative. A
handy map at the NEA’s Blue Star Museum page lets you click on a state and see a list of all participating museums. They range from fine art museums to natural history, botanical gardens, and speciality museums.
The Air Force Mortuary Affairs Operations Public Affairs Office has received
confirmation of consent from the primary next of kin to authorize media
coverage of their fallen military loved one’s return:
Thus begin the notices that go out to the media. These are the names we have received since Memorial Day 2012 — we honor them and all the other men and women who have died wearing the uniform (click to enlarge).