Concord church ministers to veterans, ‘touches lives’
Shawn Hendricks, BR managing editor
November 07, 2011

Concord church ministers to veterans, ‘touches lives’

Concord church ministers to veterans, ‘touches lives’
Shawn Hendricks, BR managing editor
November 07, 2011
As American troops wind down their presence in Iraq and return home in the coming months, many soldiers may struggle to restart their lives back in the United States. Some may show up at the front doors of churches looking for help.
It’s an opportunity that Leon Hawks, pastor of Crosspointe Baptist Church in Concord, hopes pastors, their congregations and Christian veterans will seize.
For the past five years, Crosspointe has reached out to active-duty military personnel, veterans, reservists and their families through a ministry called, Crosspointe ARMS. The ministry provides counseling, helps veterans file claims for benefits and gives them someone to talk with about the challenges they face.

“Our churches are filling up with veterans,” Hawks said.
“This ministry literally brings lost people to your door to pray with them and listen to them.

“It touches so many people.”

Richard Bossardet, director of Crosspointe ARMS and chaplain with Vietnam Veterans of America, and Pam Scheffer met through Crosspoint ARMS ministry. They were drawn together by their love of serving veterans. Their wedding date is set in 2013.

After 46 years of ministry, Hawks admits he’s made mistakes with counseling military veterans and hasn’t always handled those situations with love and understanding.
Hawks, like many pastors, hasn’t served in the military. He’s never fought in a war, had to leave his family for months at a time or return home from combat and struggle to find work to pay the bills. He’s never dealt with post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD).
For most people, these are issues they only see on the news, read about in a magazine or watch in a movie.

“I just didn’t know,” Hawks said. “I had no idea what these guys are going through. If I would have known, I would have understood how to be a better pastor.”
Through Crosspointe ARMS, Hawks has seen many veterans connect with people who know what they’ve been through and relate to their situation.
“A veteran will listen to another veteran,” Hawks said.
“They understand the language and lingo.”
A changed life
Richard Bossardet is director of the program and a chaplain with Vietnam Veterans of America. He retired from the Navy as a senior chief petty officer after 26 years and served during the Vietnam War.
Bossardet connected with Hawks and Crosspointe Baptist Church about six years ago after his wife, Carla, died of cancer.
Before his wife’s death, Bossardet was not attending church.
In the months following meeting Hawks, Bossardet recommitted his life to Jesus, joined the church and helped start Crosspointe ARMS.
Since then Bossardet has volunteered most of his time to ministering to veterans throughout the state.

“The whole thing is about bringing people to Christ,” he said. “(Crosspointe ARMS) is a good avenue to do it and that’s where the Lord has me.”

Bossardet believes his own experiences in the military have given him opportunities to speak about his faith – and help provide a church home for people.
“A church should be a comfortable place for veterans to visit … a home away from home, a refuge.”
Many of the people Bossardet meets and counsels struggle with some form of PTSD.
According to some studies, 30 percent of those who return home from combat in Iraq and Afghanistan show some form of PTSD. Many more, however, may not show signs until later – sometimes much later.

Bossardet contends the percentage of those who eventually develop some form of PTSD is closer to 80 percent.
“They will have emotional and physical needs,” Bossardet said.
“They will be searching for someone who will listen to them and be concerned for them.”
Earlier this year, Pam Scheffer, an accredited benefits officer with Vietnam Veterans of America, joined the Crosspointe ARMS ministry. Scheffer’s personal experiences as a Vietnam veteran’s wife have fueled her passion for ministering to veterans and their families.
Scheffer’s husband died several years ago of cancer.
“My husband suffered from PTSD,” said Scheffer, a member of North Kannapolis Baptist Church in Kannapolis. “People don’t know what they (and their families) are going through. My heart will always be with veterans … and their families.”
Since joining the team, Scheffer and Bossardet have gotten engaged and plan to marry in the summer of 2013.
With Scheffer’s experience with Vietnam Veterans of America, she has played a key role in helping veterans file for benefits.
“We have 50 claims that are in process right now,” Bossardet said. “The ministry has been going for five years and is just now starting to blossom.”
Ray Benson, an Army veteran who served in Korea, remembers a time when he was out of work and needed help from Crosspointe ARMS.
Benson, like many veterans, wasn’t aware of the benefits he was eligible to receive. Now back to work, Benson remains thankful for the ministry.
“(Bossardet has) really helped a lot of people,” Benson said. “He’s been a blessing called by God.”
For more information, go to crosspointe-baptist.com; click on “Ministries” and then the “Crosspointe ARMS” link. Or, contact Bossardet at (704) 784-8116 or at (704) 467-2638.

Thankful for our veterans