Military Chaplains Association (MCA)

                                  The Voice for Chaplaincy - Chartered by Congress - Serving Since 1925

 

Weekly Newsgram - October 5th, 2016

  

A New Volunteer Opportunity

The Veteran/Military Friendly Congregation Ministry (VMFC) of the MCA continues to grow as an increasing number of congregations respond to the call to care for military members, veterans, and their families.

vfgm-mcaWe seek to support this growing ministry through volunteer "Regional Coaches". Our fist RC is the Rev. Dr. Orea Jones-Wells, a retired VA chaplain who remains active in rural North Carolina. She volunteered for this position after being in touch with congregations seeking to do better by their veterans but not knowing how. Dr. Jones-Wells is now in touch with two clusters of congregations seeking to introduce the ministry to them and then assist as they implement it.

You may find a working job description of the position here. We have another volunteer seeking approval and are looking for at least six more so the ministry can continue to expand.

VMFC is designed as a bottom up ministry - that is a congregation must have a dedicated lay team to implement the ministry with the approval and support of the leaders of the assembly. The Pastor is certainly involved but the majority of the work comes from the core team. With this being the case, the RC is the advocate who comes along side new teams to inform, train, and encourage as they begin the process. As congregations implement their individual ministries our goal is to develop lead congregations in each geographic cluster area with the RC serving as a resource.

At the national level we hope for this network of RCs to collaborate on a regular basis via electronic media to share best practices and provide insights and suggestions on the way forward in a variety of settings. This expertise will continue to renew as more and more veterans, actively serving military, and their families find loving, informed, and caring congregations which they can call home.

Looking for the opportunity to continue to make a difference in the lives of our heroes? Then contact the MCA office and volunteer to be a Regional Coach. I hope to hear from you soon. After all, we are "Chaplains for LIfe."

Lyman Smith

Executive Director

 

Weekly Newsgram - April 27th, 2016

Veteran's Courts and Veteran Friendly Congregations

 

On April 18 of this year the newest Veterans Court in rural eastern Tennessee opened in Roane County. In its initial session three justice involved veterans were accepted into its program. Two were qualified to receive VA benefits and both were scheduled for treatment at the Harriman VA clinic in less than 24 hours. The third did not qualify for VA benefits but through the combined efforts of Vet to Vet Tennessee and other local resources this Navy veteran was accepted for free treatment into a local military service center within less than 12 hours. Three veterans, all who might have been jailed, are now receiving necessary treatment to help them deal with issues directly related to their military service.

A major contributor to this program is Vet to Vet Tennessee, a local non-profit providing peer to peer support for veterans recovering from mental health issues and substance abuse. Using a community based model, a key component of Vet to Vet Tennessee is its support and pioneering of the Veteran Friendly Congregation program the MCA now supports. Not only are the leaders behind the program committed to the role of congregations in supporting veterans in their communities they are also aware veterans are five times (5X) more likely to seek help from their clergy than every VA service combined. The Veteran Friendly Congregation program is essential in helping our congregations understand more fully how to provide a key ministry to veteran members and neighbors they might otherwise miss.

One of our new members, retired Chaplain Josephine Pinkney is now serving as our coordinator for Veteran Friendly Congregations. She is working hard to examine the success of the program in Tennessee and elsewhere and developing means by which we can facilitate this program nationwide. Should you have interest in supporting this essential ministry as a local facilitator and representative please let us know at chaplains@mca-usa.org. We will be looking for those committed to yet another opportunity for service as chaplains for life.

Lyman Smith

Executive Director