While most U.S. families are looking forward to a night of feasting and fellowship, Army veteran Steve Prince says the holiday season can be difficult for some veterans. Small talk and “how are you?” conversations occasionally lead into awkward territory.
“A lot of vets don’t candy-coat things, and you might hear an answer you’re not prepared for,” he says. “Combat deployment is something you just can’t explain.”
As a result, many veterans try to avoid these types of situations. It often means an empty or briefly-occupied seat at the Thanksgiving table.
“They’re going to do what they can to stay isolated until somebody helps them out of that shell, whether it’s a strong Christian brother or sister, or another vet.”
Warriors Set Free
Along with owning a small business in West Michigan, Prince leads Warriors Set Free – a “veteran-to-veteran” division of Set Free Ministries. Peer counseling and a curriculum developed by Dr. Neil Anderson are critical components of the ministry.
Every conversation and meeting is undergirded by prayer, Prince adds. “I think we underestimate the power of prayer, or at least I know I do sometimes.
“We honestly pray a lot and just say, ‘God, we don’t know what this guy needs, but You do.’ Jesus shows up, the Holy Spirit moves their heart.”
If someone you love is battling “war wounds” of the soul, click here to connect with Warriors Set Free. Prince’s contact information is listed at the bottom of the page.
Most importantly, keep praying.
“Praying for vets is just like anything else: ‘Lord, thank you for this person. We don’t know what they need, but You do.’ There’s not a secret word or [anything], just continue to let them know you’re praying for them and ask how you can help them.”
In closing, remember to thank a veteran if you’re seated near one at Thanksgiving dinner. And avoid the cliché.
“You know that phrase, ‘Thank you for your service’?” Prince asks. “It’s become kind of cliché, so I just recommend people say anything different: ‘thank you for serving our country’, ‘thank you for protecting our freedom’, or just ‘thank you.’
“Anything different is more meaningful than the standard phrase.”
Header image courtesy of Saundi Wilson via Flickr.