Tag Archives: military

Memorial Day 2017


The above photograph is a still from a memorial held in Iraq in 2007.  Below are the notifications we have received over the last year.  We join in the collective mourning for the loss of too many.

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Dignified Transfer 10/21/2016

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Dignified Transfer 11/7/2016

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Dignified Transfer 11/15/2016

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Dignified Transfer 1/11/2016

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Dignified Transfer 3/21/2017

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Dignified Transfer 3/31/2017

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Dignified Transfer 4/10/2017

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Dignified Transfer 5/3/2017

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On view for another month at the Brooklyn Museum, WAR/PHOTOGRAPHY: Images of Armed Conflict and Its Aftermath is an amazingly effective show.  It groups some 400 images taken over the last 166 years thematically — from training to deployment to combat, injuries, death, and the 1000-mile stare of returning troops.  By organizing the show this way, it drives home the constants of war.  The equipment and circumstances change, the realities of sending people into combat doesn’t.  There are acts of bravery, tenacity,  loyalty and love on the battlefield, in hospital tents, by gravestones. There is also unspeakable brutality, suffering, and devastation both individual and collective, military and civilian.

This was our take on it.  If you have seen the show in Brooklyn or any of its previous venues (Museum Fine Arts, Houston;  Corcoran, Washington, DC; Annenberg Space for Photography, Los Angeles), please share your thoughts.

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Honoring our military on Memorial Day

Media Representatives:

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).

Memorial Day 2013 -2Memorial Day 2013

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Humanity Explored Film Festival up and running

Screen Shot 2012-12-20 at 11.19.55 AMHumanity Explored Film Festival is up and running, and you can watch Chaplains Under Fire on-line as well as a number of other great documentaries and feature films.  And, please, give the festival your feedback and spread the word.  Thanks.

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Humanity Explored film festival

For all of you who ask us where you can watch “Chaplains Under Fire”– well, we are proud to announce that the documentary will be part of the next Humanity Explored film festival whose organizers, Culture Unplugged, make it easy for everyone to attend: it is on-line, free, and runs for a year.  Screen Shot 2012-12-04 at 8.42.50 AMThe 2013 festival will launch later this month and, in the meantime, you can still check out the 2012 films.

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Filed under chaplains, Church-State, documentary, First Amendment, military, religion

Stand Up for Heroes

Last year, the Bob Woodruff Foundation and the New York Comedy Festival showed the value of laughter, empathy, respect and understanding by putting on “Stand Up for Heroes” — check out a news report of last year’s event then pass the word along about this year’s Stand Up for Heroes at the Beacon Theater in New York on Thursday, Nov 8.

Tickets are available at www.ReMIND.org and at www.nycomedyfestival.com

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War and Its Wake

It has been an amazing privilege to contribute a chapter to War Trauma and Its Wake: Expanding the Circle of Healing which Routledge is publishing in May/June.

Here is a flyer with the table of contents  in pdf form: War Trauma and Its Wake (it also offers a 20% discount on pre-orders).  The chapter I contributed deals with the journey home for physically wounded troops and their families and it is greatly informed by the troops and families we got to know while making Chaplains Under Fire.

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Notifications excerpt on-line

In making the documentary, we were privileged to spend time with Gold Star families who shared their stories with us.  You can watch the notifications sequence from Chaplains Under Fire on YouTube.

watch the excerpt on YouTube

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helping military families

USA Together, Wounded Warrior Project, Combat Paper Project — these are just a few of the names the Huffinton Post included in its list of organizations that help military families and veterans.  This post is particularly useful because its author, Joshua Kors, has included a comprehensive list in a Word document you can download.

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“I would suggest that you remove the article and video of former Chaplain Kurt Bishop.  He was my former chaplain, has been discharged and is under federal indictment for 32 counts.”  This was an e-mail we received in May 2010 from a senior NCO in the Arizona National Guard.  The news shocked and saddened us.  Terry had met Bishop in the field hospital at FOB Salerno in southeastern Afghanistan.  A series of interlocking tents, the hospital took in wounded helicoptered in and tended to Afghan children suffering from burns and diseases.   Terry had seen Bishop at the hospital, joking with the medical team, helping out during mass casualties and triages. I was stuck in Bagram for about a week, waiting for a spot on a helo bound for Salerno, and my own first glimpse of Bishop was in the immediate aftermath of a rocket attack.  In fact, as Terry wrote in a blog, Bishop was the one to assure Terry I was all right.

After that we saw Bishop a number of times, and his work at the hospital and his relationship with the team impressed us both.  So much so that we included him in the documentary as an illustration of ministering across faith lines.  And when it came time to choose six chaplains to profile for a series in the Christian Science Monitor, Bishop was among them.  He was the subject of “Prayer and humor hold a trauma unit together in Afghanistan,” and it is this article that the Arizona National Guard NCO wanted us to remove from our site.  We understood his request but decided that the article and accompanying video were part of the public record and therefore needed to stay.  Also, at the time Bishop had not yet been found guilty of any crime.

He has since been convicted of a felony and a misdemeanor for having falsified military honors.  Under normal circumstances, a newspaper might simply add a footnote to the on-line version of the article, but Clara Germani, who edited the original series, felt these were not usual circumstances.  We had in-depth knowledge of Bishop, and we both felt that his story raised important issues:  is our worst act our most defining one?  Do our bad actions invalidate our good ones?  How do we reconcile the fact that we often have many sides, bright and dark? In the course of researching this, it became apparent that Bishop’s action also tied into a more general debate about lying about military honors: is it protected free speech or a criminal act?

The article came out in the April 3rd edition of the Christian Science Monitor under the headline “Did a chaplain’s fake Purple Heart erase good deeds?” along with  a shorter piece on the Constitutional issues raised.   It grew out of both our time with him in Afghanistan in 2007 as well as a number of conversations with Bishop over the past year and interviews with some of his former colleagues.   Watching him struggle with shedding a persona that he had fraudulently invented and maintained, something Bishop said back in  2007 suddenly took on deeper meaning.  Every morning, he said,  “I pray, ‘God, help me get out of the way so you can use me.'”

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