Step #1 should be to examine our own assumptions and biases.
a. Do I assume that those who join the military are less intelligent than I?
b. Do I assume that all veterans have done something for which they should be ashamed?
c. Am I uncomfortable that he/she has served and sacrificed for our nation’s policy decisions while I have been comfortable living my civilian life the whole time?
d. Do I resent the praise and benefits afforded military veterans?
I think that this is Step #1 because if you hold these common biases and do not control for them, your words will inevitably reveal them, creating a rift between you and the veteran in your congregation.
I think the questions should go both ways… as the interaction is a two-way street. The key is MUTUAL understanding, awareness, and formation of community.
Therefore, military personnel should ask themselves too:
a. Do I assume that those who are not a part of the military culture will never understand it or do not have parallel experiences in life at home?
b. Do I assume that those who have not served – whether (1) by choice, or (2) by lack of knowledge, ability, good timing or awareness of the military so they could serve – are less intelligent than I? (for example, I consoled a young ROTC student this week who did not “make the grade” on an exam and must disenroll)
c. Do I assume that those who have not served and sacrificed in the military are not serving and sacrificing in some other way as a civilian? (for example, David Bernard-Stevens who is currently in Kenya developing an empowerment and self-leadership program for women and youth http://www.leaderdevelopmentgroup.com in addition to his civil service in his home state)
d. Do I welcome civilians into my military community when I am able to do so and not presume superiority or make them feel like outsiders because of my “official” sacrifice and service?
Regardless of the clothes we wear or the cross we bear, we are all community as Americans. You are right, Colonel Kilner, controlling bias is a key to unifying civilians and veterans. The civilian community needs to bear open arms (of course, not “arms” as in weapons, but welcoming bodily arms), but the military community must walk into those arms to receive the embrace. After the Yellow Ribbon serves to initiate the formation of this unified community by asking these questions.
Hello just wanted to give you a quick heads up and let you know a few of the images aren’t loading correctly. I’m not sure why but I think its a linking issue. I’ve tried it in two different internet browsers and both show the same results.
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