JOLIET, IL (04/11/2012)(readMedia)-- A collection of eight clergy and community-based church leaders from the Chicago area gathered at the Joliet National Guard Armory April 10 to kick off a five-event Partners In Care campaign.
"The purpose is to bring clergy as well as community-based church leaders together to offer training in terms of how they can better support military members in their congregation as well as their community," said Chaplain (Capt.) Vincent C. Lambert of Chicago, with 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery in Chicago. "So the idea is that we want to provide them with tools, resources and training that better equips them to serve the military population."
This training is in light of the vast amount of people in Illinois who are connected to the military. There are more than 750,000 people living in Illinois who have either served or are serving in the Armed Forces.
"Military personnel are a significant chunk of the population, here in Illinois and if we can get as many partners as possible to help support the population I think the state is better for it, those families are better for it and ultimately the people who provide that support are better for it," said Lambert.
Martin R. Stidham of Chicago and pastor at the Chicago International Church initially expressed interest in the Partners In Care training to understand and help his son who is in the Reserve Officer Training Corps at the University of Illinois. He walked away with a larger vision of how beneficial this training could be.
"I would say we are more equipped now," said Stidham. "I, at least, feel more compassionate toward them, more understanding of what they've gone through. I feel that I have a much greater understanding than before. Understanding is a good tool to help listen better."
Those in attendance received instruction to help servicemembers with traumatic physical and mental injuries to deal with post traumatic stress disorder. Instructors then addressed secondary traumatic stress disorders and the pain family members can go through, with the goal to effectively support servicemembers facing the reality that there is a "new normal."
"What we want is to make sure that we're offering resources that helps individuals be emotionally healthy, spiritually healthy, and to have a good family," said Lambert. "So the idea is to offer up resources that are spiritual, emotional and mental so that people will be whole and healed."
The Partners in Care program looks to take advantage of a unique connection between institutions of faith and the military.
"I think the military benefits greatly from the stability and support that is provided by religious communities and by people of faith," said Tony J. Sorgi of Chicago, a doctoral student at the Adler School of Professional Psychology in the military psychology track. "I think it can provide a measure of mental resilience from a psychological perspective and I think that's very important. On the flip side I think the military communities make enormous contributions to the religious communities they are a part of in civil society. The experience of war is profound and for the people who work their way through that experience, they bring a strength to democracy and civil society that we badly need."
The Partners In Care campaign will continue with a stop at the Chicago Armory April 12, the Mount Vernon Armory April 17, the Elgin Armory April 18, and the Illinois Military Academy at Camp Lincoln in Springfield April 25. All instruction beginning at 9 a.m.
"The more partners we have, the more points of support we have throughout the state," said Lambert. "The more points of support we have the better we are at being able to support our military personnel and their families. We are always looking for more partners and houses of faith that would be committed and want to become a part of the program."
April 12 Chicago Armory; 5200 S. Cottage Grove Ave., Chicago
April 17 Mount Vernon Armory; 205 7th St., Mount Vernon
April 18 Elgin Armory; 254 Raymond St., Elgin
April 25 Camp Lincoln Illinois Military Academy, 1301 N. MacArthur Blvd., Springfield