Church Resources Offer Comfort and Peace for Those in Military Service
By Heather Whittle Wrigley, Church News and Events
In France they call it Armistice Day; in the United States, it’s known as Veterans Day; in Australia, it’s Remembrance Day—whatever it’s called, November 11 in many countries is a day to observe and honor military veterans.
Thousands of members of the Church around the world are currently involved in their nations’ military services, which often translates to irregular contact with other Church members and sometimes limited access to participate in Church services.
To remedy this, the Church has a military relations program that consists of (1) Church orientation for members who enter military service, (2) support from stakes and wards regardless of where military members are stationed throughout the world, (3) the organization of service member groups when members in military service are unable to attend local wards or branches, and (4) endorsement of qualified individuals who desire to become military chaplains in the various branches of service.
Frank Clawson is director of the Church’s military relations program. “Over the years, many faithful members of the Church have answered the call of their country,” he said. “We owe a debt of gratitude to the men and women who sacrificed so much and who gave their all to the cause of freedom.”
To that end, he said, the military relations program seeks to provide spiritual, physical, and emotional support to military personnel and their families.
Nick Armendariz was on his second deployment at the Bagram Air Base in Afghanistan when he received a letter from Elder Bruce A. Carlson, who retired as a general from the United States Air Force after more than 37 years of service and now serves in the Second Quorum of the Seventy.
Of the resources provided by the Church’s military relations division, Brother Armendariz said, “It is [what] holds me together during deployments. … Thanks for all you do.”
One letter from a parent whose son was in boot camp stated, “It is reassuring to know that the Church is keeping track of our servicemen and women and providing meetings and support for them. … As difficult as boot camp has been, it has also been spiritual for him.”
Under Resources>All Callings on LDS.org, members can find resources like the videos Serving Your Country and Let Not Your Heart Be Troubled under the Military Relations section. The first video is designed to be viewed during pre-military service Church orientation before leaving for basic training, while the second seeks to help those who have served in wartime conditions put their combat experiences in a gospel perspective.
The site also lists materials for priesthood leaders—for instance, bishops should provide a small set of scriptures specifically made for military members and an LDS identification tag.
Other items available to military personnel include the Serving Your Country brochure, special military garments, the Principles of the Gospel book (available in Spanish and Portuguese), a field kit for sacrament services, and more. Many items can be found at store.lds.org.
“We want our members who are serving in the military to have the blessings of Church membership wherever they are,” Brother Clawson said. “The purpose of these resources is to strengthen the testimonies of our military personnel and to support others who are affected by military service. We want them to know that God loves them and that the Church is aware of their sacrifices and challenges.”
Sergeant First Class Joshua O’Crowley was at the end of his tour of duty when he sent a letter to Elder Carlson: “I have had many poignant experiences here, but none more than when I have felt the Lord’s hand in my life. … In addition to what He has done for me here, He has blessed and watched over my wife and three children at home, giving me the peace of mind to continue my mission without worry for them,” he wrote. “I am proud to tell you that I am returning home with honor.”