Church program to feature veterans services advocateWritten by Joel Sensenig | Managing Editor | firstname.lastname@example.org
Pam Hays, an advocate for veterans suffering from post-traumatic stress disorder and traumatic brain injury, will be the guest speaker at a 7 p.m. Veterans Day service Nov. 11 at Epworth United Methodist Church.
Hays, a Toledo Free Press columnist, is the president and founder of The Arms Forces, a nonprofit organization embracing the needs of veterans through individualized programs and services. Since 2009, the organization has worked closely with more than 400 veterans and their families. Hays is a traumatic brain injury survivor herself, having been involved in a motorcycle accident in 2000.
The Veterans Day program is part of the church’s monthly series on healing from physical, spiritual and emotional struggles.
Hays said her talk will center on how the community can come together to help veterans.
“Really what we’re about is making sure civilians and veterans and the military are connected,” Hays said of The Arms Forces. “We believe strongly that veterans and the community are better off when we stop isolating them and incorporate everyone into the same community and grow together. … Civilians need to be lifting up veterans in one way or another. How can [civilians] really be a part of it if we’re always saying that it’s only veterans who can help veterans?”
Hays’ research showed her a major gap in services available to veterans that can keep them from utilizing the system of supports and services in place for them. She has worked with Judge Advocate General’s Corps officers and U.S. Department of Defense personnel to help train officials on matters involving veterans’ services.
In working with veterans, Hays said she tries to center on the individual’s “moral wounds” sustained in military service, particularly in combat.
“You can’t go there without having your human spirit changed,” she said. “When they come back, there’s a lot of work being done in counseling and medical [needs], but no one’s really saying, ‘As a human being, how do you feel?’ … That takes a lot of time and a lot of vulnerability from the people who are helping them, but if we don’t get to that place, then all the other services seem to be wasted or not used as effectively.”
Beth Irwin, director of health ministries and director of communications at Epworth, said the church wanted to have a military angle for its November healing service.
“We have a number of veterans at Epworth and we know that there are many veterans out in the community,” Irwin said. “The healing process is ongoing for them. Pam has been very generous with her time and we’re happy to have her here as much as possible. She’s happy to share her personal experience of healing and show that it is possible to live a full life.”
In addition to Hays, the program will also feature a number of related scripture verses and hymns, as well as a time of open communion and hands-on prayer for anyone interested.
Epworth Church is located at 4855 W. Central Ave. For more information, visit www.thearmsforces.org.