Little by little, our Utah National Guard and Army Reserve soldiers are coming home. They played important roles in the war to end terrorism and oppression, and helped change the course of history. Now they are coming back to Utah.
Over the next few months our nightly news will feature new crews filming and interviewing returning soldiers at the Salt lake City Airport. We will all rejoice to witness our friends and neighbors happily cling to spouses, children and parents; safely back from deployments. Now, with their safe returns, our sense of relief and satisfaction is complete.
Coming home can be a journey that is not entirely completed when the duffle bags are set down on the front porch. Coming home starts the process.
Every faith group in the community can play a unique role in helping our soldiers through this process. You've watched over their families in their absence. You've shared faith and prayers, brought over meals, made visits and phone calls, fixed plumbing, worked on years, in short, shared the burdens of separation to ease the pain and reduce the difficulties. Thank You.
Here are some suggestions: Celebrate. Find ways to express your gratitude. Validate their sacrifice by extending and hearty hand of thanks. Be supportive of families as they adjust. They are relearning relationships. Stay close. Don't assume that you are no longer needed.
Couples may need special help from clergy to adjust to being reunited. Children may need special support and patience when a long absent parent reenters the family structure. Soldiers coming home can be impatient to reclaim former roles and responsibilities in the family, but everyone in the family is a little different after a long separation. Change is how life works.
Continue sensitively to support the military families in your congregation. Extend fellowship. Keep up the kindness. Shepherds of all faith groups, please help families complete the process of coming home. Your role can be critical in helping to improve or even save relationships. The expression safe and sound, is such a lovely way of capturing our sincere desire for those who come home after a long journey or difficult experience. Let's all pitch in to make safe and sound the happy result for every guard and reserve soldier returning to Utah's communities.