BROOKVILLE – Hoping to support military veterans in the region, the Brookville Church of God is hosting a Warrior Resiliency Conference Aug. 1-2. The two-day event is free to veterans.
Vietnam combat veteran Phil Downer will present a series of “dynamic, insightful and interactive” sessions. He was one of the men featured in the documentary “The War Within.” He’ll discuss the conflicts, mistakes, struggles and breakthroughs that he has experienced in the dual war zones of live combat and relational conflict as a civilian:
- What do I do with my pain, guild and anger?
- Why doesn’t my family understand me?
- What does it take to be a success in civilian life?
- How can I leave a legacy of honor?
All of these questions and issues will be discussed in hopes of giving veterans a way to cope with their challenges.
“This is a wonderful ministry for some of our finest citizens, those who have served our country in the armed services,” Church of God pastor Henry Scoff said. “Men and women come back from their service often having finished their participation in war only to discover the war still rages within.”
In 2013, the U.S. Department of Veteran Affairs stated that veteran suicide was running at 22 per day, or about 8,000 a year. The U.S. Secretary of Defense called suicide in the military an “epidemic.”
The reports on recent military personnel are troubling. The Citizens Commission on Human Rights reported:
“Even though more older veterans are committing suicide, it’s difficult to predict what the toll of America’s newest wars will be. A survey by the Iraq and Afghanistan Veterans of America showed that 30 percent of service members have considered taking their own life, and 45 percent said they know an Iraq or Afghanistan veteran who has attempted suicide.”
So the issue is alarming and the Warrior Resiliency Conference gives veterans an outlet for assistance.
“As a young boy growing up in the decade of the 1950’s, I can still hear my dad, a veteran of World War II, noticing an old black and white news reel of the war and say that was a really bad place,” Scoff said.
“Years later as a keepsake I inherited a small note book he carried in the war. In the notebook along with map coordinates and notes on instructions was a list of names and addresses I didn’t at first make sense of. Then somehow I realized he sent letters to surviving spouses of men who made the ultimate sacrifice of their life.
“War leaves a mark and the soldier returning carries it within. That war within wakes them up at night as they relive images and events that are part of them forever.”
The conference gets under way on Friday, Aug. 1 at 5 p.m. with a welcome catered banquet starting at 6 p.m. Downer then will have the keynote address titled “The Battle Abroad and at Home” at 7:30 p.m.
Saturday’s schedule begins at 9 a.m. with a morning session followed by lunch at 11:30 a.m. The conference concludes with an afternoon session starting at 1 p.m.
While the cost is free for veterans, there is a $25 fee for support persons.
“It is our privilege and great honor to present this ministry to military families,” Scoff said. “If you or someone you know could benefit from the conference, please come, or encourage someone to come and share in the experience with us. It would be our honor.”