Wonderful screening the other day thanks to the ArtReach Foundation in Atlanta whose founder and head, Susan Anderson, organized a small gathering of people intensely committed to the well being of servicemen and women, veterans and military families. I had first gotten to know ArtReach a couple of years ago when I attended one of its workshops in which veterans and civilians explored the journey home through movement, art, and writing — and the sheer joy of play. It was pretty powerful stuff.
It was great to see the kind familiar face of George Wieder and the dynamic Christi O’Hare, who heads ArtReach’s Project America for veterans. Between them and Susan Anderson, this would have been enough to guarantee a good conversation — but add to the mix…
two doctors from Georgia Tech Research Institute (one of whom is also a vet) who will be researching the impact of ArtReach’s work;
Peter McCall, founder of Care For The Troops, which is an amazing resource;
Catherine McCall, a family and marriage therapist who is very active in helping prevent and heal child abuse;
Chaplains with the Georgia Army National Guard also came, including its head chaplain, Air Force Lt Col Elizabeth A. Harris-Lamkin, who had some very interesting things to say about mentoring young chaplains — pastors in their own communities one day and, the next, they are deployed to Afghanistan where troops in their care come from across the spectrum of faith and non-faith and all face life and death situations
…and what you get is an intense and honest conversation that delved into the challenges chaplains face, how different people believed they should act, the role (positive and negative) of outside critics and observers, the need to understand the realities on the ground, the First Amendment duties and constraints on chaplains, the difficulties of legislating ‘good behavior,’ the enormous need of troops and families, wounded warriors and suicides, the role church congregations can play in helping military families,…
Thank you all for taking the time to watch the film and discuss it and the issues it raises with such insight and compassion.