Monday, December 3, 2007
The Testimony of a Desert Storm Vet
The government has raised some suspicion about themselves by openly denying documented facts about some important issues involved in the Gulf War syndrome. The only group to officially look into the Gulf War syndrome was a panel that was picked by the president. The government also authorized the use of experimental vaccines and ordered many soldiers to ignore the detection devices for harmful chemicals. There are also declassified documents that refer to depleted uranium and other chemical weapons which the government has been denying for many years. There are also unused chemical weapons that were found in Iraqi armories after they had been taken over. There are also reports of U.S. companies selling vital products to Iraq. With all of this evidence towards chemical weapons as the cause of the Gulf War syndrome, and the only people that think that stress was the cause, is a government that is a proven liar especially about this issue, how can we even debate the cause of all the diseases.
I chose to develop this thesis to assist people that minister to the sick, the dying, and the people that have been affected by the careless words and insensitivity of others. I have experienced pain and tragedy in my own personal life and as a Hospital Chaplain and Prison Minister I have seen my fair share of pain. I spent 23 years in the Air Force and I have seen the effects of war and death. I came home from Desert Storm and came down with an Auto-Immune disease (Sarcoidosis) like many of my fellow service men, we suffer for reasons no one can or is willing to give an answer. I am blind in one eye, I am in pain 24/7 from the rheumatoid condition caused by the Sarcoidosis and I also have Lymphadema from lymph node damage from the Sarcoidosis.
I have lost two good paying jobs because of my illness; I also had to care for my mother that had bone cancer, renal failure, and Dementia. Needless to say all of these things affected me and my wife’s life drastically. One day I sat in my car the day I was told I was losing my job due to illness, and I contemplated suicide for the first time in my life, and the only thing that kept me from picking up my survival knife and slitting my throat was anger…yes anger! Anger towards the military, anger towards everyone that couldn’t see how much pain I was in. Anger at myself for allowing self-pity to destroy me. I made a decision that day that I would help people that were in pain.
If you read this book and wonder why I placed information about various religions and groups, this is why; I am a Christian and I believe in Jesus as Lord and Savior, I am also convinced that in order to help people we have to understand why people think the way they do, and what belief system shaped their paradigms. As a chaplain I minister to all races, faiths, and cultures. I do not compromise my beliefs, but I try to understand all beliefs. I will share a brief story with you to help you fully understand where I am coming from. I went into a man’s room one night to offer prayer; he looked at me wearing my clergy collar and turn away as if to say “No thanks!” So I noticed he was watching the Phillies on television, I also noticed on his chart that he was Jewish, now I could have given up and walked away, but this man was dying of cancer. So I asked him what the score of the game is. He turned and looked at me and told me, so I said thanks, I told him I was rooting for the Mets, and he smiled and said he was too. I sat with this dying man for about three innings of baseball and we discussed nothing but baseball, we never mentioned God for 3 innings. When I got up to leave he looked at me and said…”Thanks Chaplain” Now what this man never knew was I can pray and watch baseball at the same time! He asked me to pray for him before I left, and I did! When we realize that humans are not statistics for our outreach chart at church and rather souls in need of healing then we will really be doing Kingdom work. Jesus was a great listener as well as teacher. When we listen to people we earn the right to pray and share later on. I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ, but the older I get I realize the Gospel is not just preached, but lived by showing unconditional love without judgment or condemnation.
One of the valuable lessons I learned from Rev. Dr. Cholke was that the answers we are seeking are already inside of us, as chaplains we just help them find the answer within. I have learned through many visits and verbatims that Dr. Cholke was right. In our supervision sessions I realized this because he used these principals on me. I was going through some severe pain in my personal life. I was depressed and contemplating suicide at one point. But Rev. Cholke’s ability to see light in dark places in my soul helped rescue me. I want to honor the memory of Dr. Cholke by continuing to help others see the answer within. One of my favorite scriptures is “Greater is He that is in you, than he that is in the world.” The greater one is within us and willing to help us in all of our struggles.
Chaplain Mark Stevens, M.Min