Statistics suggest that millions of U.S. military veterans suffer from PTSD following active duty. Military chaplain the Rev. Bill Libby says he often meets fellow veterans who are still feeling the effects of the Vietnam War 40 years after their active service. A United Methodist church in Texas has formed a Sunday school class to help these service members find the spiritual support they need.
(Locator: Abilene, Texas)
The Rev. Felicia Hopkins: "I wanted to come to your class because it's a military class…"
Mike Ramsay, St. Paul United Methodist Church: "When I came back from Vietnam, I was just riddled with PTSD and nobody understood it."
Kenneth Clark, St. Paul United Methodist Church: "Traditionally the church has not known how to deal with people who have psychological problems. PTSD is a psychiatric problem."
The Rev. Felicia Hopkins, St. Paul United Methodist Church: "I am Reverend Felicia Hopkins. I am the senior pastor at St. Paul United Methodist Church here in Abilene, Texas. I am a veteran of the Army, I served over 21 years. When I got here there was a Sunday school class called The Pathfinders that was led by Reverend Bill Libby and he is a Vietnam vet and he was also a chaplain."
The Rev. Bill Libby, St. Paul United Methodist Church: "When I came to Abilene immediately (I) ran into men and women who were still dealing with the impact of Vietnam on their lives and their family life."
Mike Ramsay: "We asked Chaplain Libby if we could start a Sunday school class because most of us veterans were not associated with any church. He said 'We'll do it.'"
Libby: "We actually dealt with material that talked about veterans coming back and dealing with their spiritual needs, their psychological needs, their family difficulties."
Ramsay: "The class has been an immense help. We continue to get better. Our PTSD is not as bad as it used to be, we've learned to deal with it."
David Watson: "That class became a safe place, and it grew almost every Sunday."
Charles Rice, St. Paul United Methodist Church: "This class is what keeps me coming back to this church. Veterans will tend to congregate together, I think if you get them started they'll help themselves and bring in other veterans."
Ramsay: "I absolutely encourage other churches to do this."
Felicia Hopkins: "United Methodist churches, if you're thinking about a veterans ministry I say dive right in with all that you have. Not only are they going to be blessed, you're going to be blessed tons. You cannot get from the front door to the back door without crossing veterans. We have veterans that are ushers, we have veterans that sing in the choir, we have veterans that volunteer in our youth ministry, and we have veterans that teach Sunday school. We're talking about our brothers and sisters in Christ who have already demonstrated that they're going to give you everything. So my challenge to you, will you at least sit down with them and talk to them and say, 'What is it that we can do unique for you?" You want to be engaged in lives, you want to see lives changed, and you want to touch hearts and minds for the Gospel of Jesus Christ? Find some veterans."
Contact St. Paul United Methodist Church in Abilene, Texas to learn more about the veterans Sunday school class.
This video was first posted on May 8, 2017.