Wounded warriors focus of new ministry
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
February 11, 2010

Wounded warriors focus of new ministry

Wounded warriors focus of new ministry
Melissa Lilley, BSC Communications
February 11, 2010

FORT BRAGG — When Chris

Carson served as an infantry battalion chaplain in Iraq he was familiar with

less than ideal conditions. He went days without a shower and re-used paper

plates. Carson jumped out of airplanes just like the other soldiers.

So, just over a year ago

when Carson came to work with the Warrior Transition Battalion, a nondeployable

unit in the 82nd Airborne Division at Fort Bragg, he expected life as a

chaplain to settle down.

“Boy, was I wrong,” Carson

said during an interview at his Fort Bragg office. The job is definitely not

9-5 and the reality of death and incredibly tough circumstances is as real here

as it is overseas.

As one of two chaplains

assigned to the Warrior Transition Battalion, Carson works with about 500 sick

and wounded soldiers. Some will heal and return to active duty, but most will

be medically discharged. Some soldiers are from the Fort Bragg area but many

are not.

BSC photo

Chris Carson serves with the Warrior Transition Battalion at Fort Bragg. The Wounded Warriors Ministry is a way N.C. Baptists can help Carson minister to the lives of soldiers who have been injured and their families.

Because injured soldiers are

assigned to a hospital best suited to meet their needs, many with brain/head

injuries come to Womack Army Medical Center in Fayetteville. For some that

means they are nowhere close to home, family or friends.

A new outreach is underway

that will give North Carolina Baptists the chance to join Carson in ministering

to the soldiers of the Warrior Transition Battalion. The vision for the Wounded

Warriors Ministry is to help match individuals, as well as local churches, with

specific needs of soldiers.

The ministry is an outreach

of the Baptist State Convention of North Carolina (BSC) Office of Military and

Chaplaincy Ministries, led by Col. Larry Jones, BSC senior consultant for

military and chaplaincy ministry. Jones has been a military chaplain for 29

years. As state chaplain for the North Carolina National Guard he manages

chaplains, chaplain candidates and chaplain assistants in the North Carolina

Army and Air National Guard.

Volunteers can contribute in

various ways: sitting in a hospital waiting room with a soldier’s family or

visiting the soldier in the hospital. They could bring meals to family waiting

at the hospital, help with childcare or even visit at home the spouse of a

hospitalized solider. Sometimes a spouse needs help with chores around the

house while the injured soldier recovers.

“Anything we can do to help

them opens up a door for us to witness,” Jones said.

Last year Carson started an

adopt-a-wounded-soldier ministry.

Jones is hopeful that

churches will consider making Fayetteville a unique kind of mission trip.

Church groups would come and spend the week “on call” for the chaplains, ready

to serve however needed. Since this may not be the type of mission trip

churches are accustomed to, Jones will even help churches with training, such

as how to do a hospital visit. A low-cost lodging option is the N.C. Baptist

Men Missions Camp facility at Red Springs.

Although the Wounded

Warriors Ministry is still in the infant stage, several soldiers already have

been helped. Carson and Jones are working together to match up the gifts and

skills of volunteers with the needs of soldiers.

“The needs are so complex,”

Carson said.

In addition to ministering

to the wounded, Carson preaches every Sunday, leads a weekly Bible study, holds

counseling sessions and plans retreats. The chaplains can’t do everything, and

more people will be ministered to as a result of the Wounded Warrior Ministry.

Carson has no doubt that volunteers will be greatly rewarded through

involvement in this ministry.

Just seeing the look on

someone’s face when he comes to visit them in the hospital can be enough to

remind him of the importance of this outreach. It doesn’t take much to make a

difference. “You can just listen,” he said. “Just be with the soldiers.”

To learn how your church can

get involved in ministering to wounded warriors, or for more information about

the Office of Military and Chaplaincy Ministries, e-mail Jones at

[email protected].