The day that Rich and Marybeth Mendez stepped into the leadership of the Rock’s Military Ministry, they were happy to carry on with the good work of offering support and encouragement, as well as prayer and even invitations to know Jesus to the San Diego military community.
But it wasn’t until they encountered several combat veterans, one in particular, a retired Air Force officer, that their course seemed to take a new turn.
Something she had experienced downrange had so devastated her that as she tried to articulate her plight to Rich and Marybeth, her mind stumbled around for the right words as if the experience was so bad, there simply weren’t any. Rich and Marybeth tried to encourage her and even coax her toward what she was really feeling. In the end, three words stuck out from the rest; three words that stayed with and haunted them.
Soul wound. And, healing.
The more they looked into what the combat veteran described, the more they began to see why those words were repeatedly on her tongue. Veterans who are experiencing PTSD are not merely dealing with bad memories from watching people die, but their souls are often detonated by following orders that violate their conscience. And while the government has done their best to address mental health, the soul wounds of the veterans are left untouched. And it’s their souls they say often feel as though they are bleeding out.
While veterans are put through much post war rehabilitation, the U.S. is losing 22 combat vets to suicide each day. Thousands who come home from war experience suicidal thoughts, depression, extreme isolation, addiction to drugs and drink in an attempt to kill the pain, and the list goes on and on. Marriages suffer, in fact, typically every relationship suffers. Every major city in the U.S. has veterans living under their bridges. Homelessness and hopelessness are at epidemic proportions.
Rich and Marybeth began to wonder how they might possibly address the monumental need before them, until one day, they were contacted by REBOOT Alliance. REBOOT is a non-profit organization that ministers to combat veterans and families suffering the effects of PTSD. Using a curriculum called Reboot Combat Recovery which is based on the life and teachings of Jesus Christ, REBOOT does what the U.S. government cannot—address the wounded soul and moral injury with the healing touch of God.
It was the perfect match. Rich and Marybeth, along with Reboot Alliance, reached out to other veterans in the community suffering with PTSD using social media and personal face-to-face contact, inviting them to enroll in the course. The 12-week program was a huge success, with 11 veterans graduating from the first class. Healing to their souls has clearly begun to take place as indicated by some of their own words describing their experience – blessed, hope, alive, renewed, trust, unbridled, surrender, and commitment. Smiles and great gains in healing were everywhere on that graduation day.