Tulsa Group Helps Returning Military With Crises Of Faith

Tuesday, January 8th 2013, 5:11 pm
By: Craig Day

Military men and women often have a hard time assimilating back into civilian life. A group of Tulsa leaders with different spiritual backgrounds hopes to provide support for returning veterans who may be struggling with what they call a "moral injury."

When soldiers return from war, some have physical injuries or emotional problems. Ray Hickman, the executive director for Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, says others may have "moral injuries" the faith-based community should help address. 

"That kind of trauma is difficult for people to get their moral compass realigned," said Ray Hickman.

Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry, a multi-faith organization, held a unique session to discuss and learn more about how the faith community can support veterans who may be facing a "moral injury."

Franklin Kiker is a chaplain and Vietnam era combat veteran who works with homeless veterans through the Guardians of Freedom Ministries based in Broken Arrow. Kiker hopes the meeting is a good first step to help bring more attention to the issue. 

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"A lot of them have lost their faith and their trust in God, and the first question I had from some guys from Afghanistan, was where was God in Afghanistan?" Kiker said.

The meeting will be the first of many to consider the role of the faith community in supporting veterans.

Tracy Jones Williams served 15 months in Iraq. 

"Not many people know what it is, a lot of people compare it to PTSD and it's not PTSD, it's something different," said veteran Tracy Jones Williams.

Hickman hopes they're successful in devising ways to help tackle spiritual issues returning military men and women might be facing. 

"It's an opportunity to restore an individual to a more healthy situation," said Ray Hickman, Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry executive director.

"It will be a great opportunity to reach out to the vets," said Chaplain and veteran Franklin Kiker. "And then find people in their churches and train them."

Tulsa Metropolitan Ministry is a multi-faith organization made up of Christian, Buddhist, Hindu, Jewish, Muslim and Unitarian faiths.