I’m writing this column from the side porch of the lodge at Eagles Summit Ranch in Westcliffe, CO. Established by my friend and evangelist, Dave Roever, its purpose is to bring veterans (and their spouses) dealing with severe cases of stress due to experiences in Iraq and Afghanistan to a quiet place so they can rediscover themselves.These Wounded Warriorsaren’t going to be living out the future they had planned for themselves. Some wanted the military to be their career. Others wanted to eventually move into security or police work. But, instead, they’re being medically discharged and their futures are uncertain because of physical challenges.Talking with these soldiers is such a reminder that dreams and goals are totally appropriate, but can’t be our source of security. Too many of these men (maybe all of them) are doubting they have competence to do anything other than what they wanted to do.
They have to start over. Can they trust themselves? What’s their identity now? They’re so much more than wounded heroes, but if they can’t see that, they won’t be able to accomplish anything. The military doesn’t want them anymore. That’s how one man stated it. His belonging has taken a hit. Purpose? Because it was so tied to career ambition, it’s lacking, too. That, as you know, leads to little or no competence or no need for competence. It’s all sad and it’s all dangerous.

If their purpose becomes getting healthier, they can learn strategies to cope with stress, their brain injuries, paralysis, and other realities. That will be their new competence. That will be temporary, too. Once they can see beyond their health issues and appropriately grieve the loss of dreams, hopes, and goals, they’ll find new purposes. With those will come new competences. But, it won’t happen over night. And, they’ll need people they trust and people they are connected with to speak truth into their lives.

I pray these Wounded Warriors make major progress and leave here in a few days renewed and confident that their future can be bright. And, I pray that for children and teens, too. Some of them have placed all their eggs in one basket and it broke. They, too, are floundering to figure out what competence they need to fit new purposes and identities. May we come alongside of them and speak boldly so doubts are erased!