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United We Serve provides a safe haven for our Military Service Members, Veterans and Family Members during times of difficulty and crisis.
United We Serve has served hundreds of military and their families through Veteran and Military Retreats at Shepherd’s Pasture, the UWS Retreat Center. Each retreat, tailored to the specific need of the participants, offers hope, tools and relationships to combat the struggles of Military Life.
United We Serve is Winning the War on Military Suicides… with Hope
Our Military service members provide the ultimate service to our country. But their return home is often the toughest part of what they do. Many service members and veterans have returned to find that they feel alone. They often realize that few people understand or share the experiences they have had.
United We Serve is a non-profit organization that reaches out to our military, giving back to those who have given so much of themselves. United We Serve is helping service members and veterans connect to what they often need most – someone else who shares their experiences and understands.
Returning men and women can feel as though they are the only ones having the feelings of anger and depression after returning home. United We Serve knows that there are others, just like you, who are struggling with the same pain and confusion. We work to help to foster relationships between service members and veterans.
United We Serve helps you find others to reassure you that you are not alone. There is hope, and there are others. There are others who know the experiences, understand the difficulties, and seek to come together for loving support and a chance of moving forward. At Shepherds Pasture, the United We Serve Retreat Center, in East Texas, returning soldiers can find peace again. Each retreat focuses on the unique needs of the participants.
Our Veteran and Military Retreats work with service members and veterans, as well as their families. They bring hope, love and support by facilitating relationships for entire families that have felt the harsh realities of Military life. Service members and veterans have an opportunity to enjoy relaxation and a break from the confusing world they have left behind, and the one they have now come home to.
The United We Serve Retreat Center serves our military families with special programs as well. The have programs focused on post-traumatic stress disorder, Traumatic Brain Injury, and other service-related reintegration issues. These programs are designed to target the recuperation of the entire family.
United We Serve has been helping military families for over 17 years. The non-profit organization is run by a military family who understands what military service members have been through.
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The Struggles of an Army Wife and the Battle Buddies that Support Her
It is hard for someone to imagine the struggles and emotions of a wife left behind by a husband who is deployed. I had no clue what the family members experienced until I became one of those wives.
I don’t think I could ever forget the intense loneliness that I experienced the first few days after my husband left me and our newborn son for Bagram Airbase in Afghanistan. I had to finish packing up our house, get the last couple of boxes in storage, and clean our house one last time with a newborn (yes, a first-time mom at that). My husband wanted me to go live with my dad back in Texas. He just felt better knowing that we were going to be looked after.
Three days after my husband left, my sweet dad flew out to Raleigh, put me and my son on a plane and then drove my car back to Texas so that I didn’t have to do that car trip with a newborn. I had friends waiting for me when I got off the plane in Texas. I remember feeling both the need to be strong until I could get my son settled into our new home for the next nine months and the need to fall apart. My friends were incredibly supportive and I was glad to see them.
God was gracious and gave me my own circle of Battle Buddies during that time. Obviously having my dad around was a comfort. He traveled most of the time I was there, but just knowing that he’d be back in a week or two and that if I needed something he would be there was relieving.
My next battle buddy was my friend, Kristi. She lived four hours away from us, but she would come and stay with me for the weekend and my son and I would go spend time with her as well. There is no way to put a value on what she was for me during that time.
As soon as I got to Texas I hunted down a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group at a church close by. We met once a week and I was able to get to know the women in my small group. They rallied around me during that time. They helped me to laugh, relax, and vent when I needed to. I will always be grateful to that group of women. I am not close to any of them at this point, but I think about what someone once said to me about friends. Some friends are for a lifetime and some are for a season and we need both kinds of friends. Those women were my battle buddies for that season.
Why do I write this? Well, because I believe we all need people to rally around us during the difficult times in our lives. United We Serve is doing just that. Making sure that Service Members, Vets, and Family Members don’t have to just muddle through is their passion. I hope that if you need help, that you will seek it out. And, if you are able to give help, that you will do that too. We all need Battle Buddies, right?
Written by Romey Kilgore
I am constantly networking and watching the good work of other advocates for our military community. This often involves spending time in the social network of vets, spouses and those that care and support them. While I favor face time communication, or at least a good old fashioned phone call, many of the connections I have made live in the virtual world, connected by a common passion……helping our Vets and their Families.
Last night, scrolling through the fb feed, I came across an urgent post on a PTSD cause page that stopped me dead in my tracks.
Suicide…I have begged for help from VA. I have PTSD and can’t deal with the pain. VA is bullshit. Govt won’t help. Good bye, I give up.
This was a tweet that immediately made its way to fb with and urgent request for attention.
Twitter user: unknown Location: Texas
Not too much to go on here….where do we start?
Over the course of the next hour or so, over 40 caring individuals from across the country pieced together, investigated and communicated enough information to locate and help this Vietnam Vet that has been struggling for too many years alone. None of us knew this vet personally. A passion to save this vet and come alongside him in his hopelessness was the only common bond. Enough information was gathered to call in boots on the ground kind of help we needed.
I do not know the outcome this morning of these efforts, and I may never know. But I do know two things.
- When you think no one cares, you’re wrong.
- When you think there is nothing you can do, you’re wrong.
Written by Romey Kilgore
You never know when someone ventures across your path whether it will be for a moment, a season or a lifetime. I know that each relationship changes us somehow, build character through diversity, or maybe nourishes our soul.
It’s time today to pay proper homage to my incidental friend and our odd-fellow relationship. He landed here at Shepherd’s Pasture a few years ago after a roller coaster ride of a life. He says that he was “looking for a good place to die”. Why here? Just because it was the right place at the right time I guess. Not because he’d ever met us, or even particularly wanted to be here I would guess.
Not to worry. This is not a memorial kind of homage, more of a intermission celebration of a life that has a few more chapters to be written. My friend has had an amazing life. The kind of life full of more county legends and infamous mischief than you or I could even dream up. And all of that debauchery now stews in that timeless vault of a brain until it’s aged to perfection and finds just the right occasion to spill out in a wonderful tale.
I drove him to distraction at times. This was verified by the collection of names I’ve accrued over the years, Mother Superior, Hitler, Drill SGT. As I think about it, I haven’t heard any of these for quite a while. He either gave up the battle of the wills or realized that it was all tough love and for his own good. Or maybe we mellowed him just a little bit.
We’ll all miss you Sandy, quirks and all. You have changed the landscape of life as we know it.
One thing I know for sure, you don’t choose family, or battle buddies. And that we will forever be my friend.
God speed into the next chapters of you crazy amazing life my friend.
Written by Keith Barnett
“They say the dead are the only ones who ever see the end of war … I’ve seen the end of war … I just hope I can live again.” … A quote from the movie “Brothers”. Very graphic movie … depicting quite a true to life representation of PTSD and what our men and their families experience when they return from war.
After watching this movie I remembered an experience I had several years ago … I met a man (Staff Sergeant) at a reintegration retreat where I was a chaplain. His wife was falling apart as she had been working and doing all she could for 4 years to hold their family together. He has been back from Iraq about 3 years. His experiences in Iraq changed him. He was aggressive with me at first when I tried to reach out to him one-on-one. He told me we were 2 ships passing in the ocean and I know nothing of his life. He was right. All I knew was he was in pain and he was about to lose his family. I preached a message that night in the chapel about the great soldier Namaan who came to the prophet covered in leprosy. I don’t know why, but I used this Staff Sergeant’s name in place of Namaan. Later he approached me and asked me outside the building where he began to “dip in the Jordan and cleanse himself” and honored me by trusting me with all the details of his experiences while in war. It was the first time he had ever spoken of these things in 3 years.
Why am I telling this story? Staff Sgt. was living a life of mere existence. If you asked his wife about her day … she was a go-getter … working, volunteering, kids, cooking, cleaning, etc… If you asked him about his day … he played golf. He was going nowhere. No ambitions and the only hope he had was to not have to use the suicide note he carried with him in his wallet.
I heard a message yesterday at church called “Awakening”. I cried later talking to a friend. I realize that to some degree spiritually I’ve been merely existing … playing golf. I miss the man I once was. So, what am I waiting for? It isn’t academic. It isn’t a set of dos and don’ts or an algorithm that will save me. It is enough to feel my heart break and be discontent where it lives at times. I’ve been given a new life. I feel like the man who is released from being in prison for a long time, shocked by the light of day, overwhelmed by the vastness of the world and the opportunities, trying to figure out his first steps.
Why am I sharing this? I don’t know …
I’m not reaching out for help … prayers are welcome o)
I’m not wearing my heart on my sleeve for pity’s sake
My message may be that God’s grace is a beautiful thing. At times we feel far from God (or disconnected), but God is a lover that understands, forgives, and gently loves us back into His arms. He doesn’t push himself on us. He doesn’t force His love on us. He doesn’t force us to love Him. At times he is the gentle quite lover who longs and patiently waits for us to turn around and look at Him. When we do we realize He has tears in His eyes because He is familiar with our suffering and pain. He has a smile on His face because His unfailing love cannot be contained. See the very familiar poem below:
One night I dreamed I was walking along the beach with the Lord.
Many scenes from my life flashed across the sky.
In each scene I noticed footprints in the sand.
Sometimes there were two sets of footprints,
other times there were one set of footprints.
This bothered me because I noticed
that during the low periods of my life,
when I was suffering from
anguish, sorrow or defeat,
I could see only one set of footprints.
So I said to the Lord,
“You promised me Lord,
that if I followed you,
you would walk with me always.
But I have noticed that during
the most trying periods of my life
there have only been one
set of footprints in the sand.
Why, when I needed you most,
you have not been there for me?”
The Lord replied,
“The times when you have
seen only one set of footprints,
is when I carried you.”
Oh! I have slipped the surly bonds of earth
And danced the skies on laughter-silvered wings;
Sunward I’ve climbed, and joined the tumbling mirth
Of sun-split clouds – and done a hundred things
You have not dreamed of – wheeled and soared and swung
High in the sunlit silence. Hov’ring there
I’ve chased the shouting wind along, and flung
My eager craft through footless halls of air.
Up, up the long delirious, burning blue,
I’ve topped the windswept heights with easy grace
Where never lark, or even eagle flew –
And, while with silent lifting mind I’ve trod
The high untresspassed sanctity of space,
Put out my hand and touched the face of God.
Pilot Officer Gillespie Magee
No 412 squadron, RCAF
Killed 11 December 1941