Minister’s Message: Thank a veteran this Veterans Day

I just happen to be a Gulf War Veteran that was randomly selected to write the Minister’s Message for the Clarion.

My immigrant grandfather served in the Navy in WWII and fought in the Aleutian Islands. My father was in the Navy and served during Vietnam.

I was a Navy Chaplain that deployed with the USS Abraham Lincoln battle group to the Persian Gulf back in 2000. One destroyer (USS Cole) in our battle group was blown up by terrorists, while refueling in Aden, Yemen. 17 sailors were killed in the attack and 36 wounded. Our ship (USS Camden AOE-2) was there 48 hours after the attack. Sailors from our ship helped them keep their ship from sinking.

As a Chaplain, I was there to provide comfort and hope to the survivors. I did Critical Incident Stress Debriefings with groups of about a dozen at a time. We would talk about what they had experienced and this helped them get out of the shock that they were experiencing.

What brought them comfort and peace in the face of the horrors of war was the message of peace and hope that I believe only Jesus can bring. Later, Vice Admiral Thomas J. Moore (commander in charge of all Middle East military operations) told me that whatever I said to them had made a huge difference.

There is a familiar saying, “There are no atheists in the foxholes.”

There is a reason for this. When you are faced with the possibility of your own death or are seeing others die, there are two things on your mind: your family back home and God. The military has counselors, but it sends chaplains into combat with the troops.

This Veterans Day tell a veteran “thank you” for the sacrifices they made. When you go to church this Sunday, remember to thank God for Veterans. You too can find the peace and hope that only Jesus can give during the difficulties and trials of life.

— Rev. Andy Carlson, Sr. M.Div.

Pastor Carlson grew up with 22 siblings in a log cabin in the backwoods of Alaska (120 miles from the Arctic Circle). He has served 23 years in the parish (five of those years was as a Navy/Marine chaplain). He is a Gulf War Veteran. He has served Funny River Community Lutheran Church since 2015. Sunday School and adult bible study are at 9:30 a.m. Sunday services are at 11 a.m., followed by a lunch that everyone is invited to. The church is located at Mile 15 Funny River Road. (Take a right on Rabbit Run and go a 1/4 mile to the church). The church website is www.funnyriverlutheran.org.

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