Today we have a very special guest! A few weeks ago I left a comment on the Seekerville blog for one of the authors about "Mondays for the Military." Imagine my surprise when I received an e-mail from another reader, excitedly telling me about people she knows in the military and about the program she helps with called "Wounded Warrior Getaway!" KC Frantzen and her husband both volunteer with WWG, and I'm thrilled to feature her today and give you a glimpse at this amazing program and the ways you could help!
So please join me in welcoming KC to "Seasons of Humility!"
Amber: Thank you so much for joining us today, KC! First of all, could you explain a little bit about yourself and the "Wounded Warrior Getaway"?
KC: Thank you for asking me to share about this fantastic program. (Waving to you and your readers!)
Joni Eareckson Tada has a 5 minute segment each morning on Moody Radio. ("Joni and Friends" presents the Gospel of Jesus Christ to people affected by disability, and their families, around the world.)
One particular morning in early 2009, Joni was talking about Family Retreats and mentioned they had recently started one for Wounded Warriors. I called my husband and he immediately agreed - this is something we wanted to do!
Amber: How does WWG serve military men and women? Do you have an example or two that you could share with us?
KC: Over 30 families participate at the Texas WWG. Most warriors have profound injuries: lost limbs, agonizing burns. Almost all have PTSD or TBI or perhaps are still in the hypervigilant stage of readjustment. With burns as an example, warriors endure 20, 30 or more surgeries. When they say "endless doctor's appointments and therapy", that is what is meant.
The real key to the WWG is family. This is the ONLY program in the U.S. that enables the entire family to come at NO CHARGE for an extended period (long weekend) not just a few hours. Donations from grateful American companies and individuals pay for the family's stay. (Volunteers raise our own support.)
Concerns vary with age: Why did this happen to me and my family? Why does God allow people to die? Why is my warrior Dad or Mom like this (angry, distant, disabled, disfigured, zombie, a wreck)? Will they ever get better? Will I have to be "the parent"? Will we ever escape psychiatrists writing everything down? Will we have to redeploy?
Two of the most poignant questions from warriors are: How can I provide for my family when I can't take care of myself? What if the pain is so bad I can't take it?
Some know a lot about Jesus Christ, some a little, and some seem to have never heard.
We serve them by being available, honest and loving. We are there to give the warriors and their spouses/caregivers unfettered time. We care for their children as if they are our own, so parents can fully give themselves to reconnecting.
Breakout sessions are led by professionals, one for spouses/caregivers, one for warriors. Participants sometimes share, for the very first time, thoughts and feelings they've grappled with since their injury.
Amber: What are some of the ways you've seen God at work in the lives of those you are helping?
KC: At this past April's Getaway after church on Sunday, we had open mike time. Two sang. One read a poem she had penned. Some commented: "I never knew there was something like this for my family. We really needed it and will be back and we'll tell others." And another said: "You all showed us what love is. You are Genesis to Revelation to me." One teen tried to tell us how much we had helped her dad… but could not finish for weeping. A lady warrior had everyone give us volunteers a standing ovation. They were amazed that some of us travel "so far" to minister to them.
(They have given EVERYTHING; we show up for a weekend.)
My favorite scene from the April getaway was out by the lake. A big ol' warrior was bagged out on a blanket under a Texas-size spreading live oak, knees up, ignoring all the water activities and rock climbers. On his chest was his little 18 month old daughter. They just communed for the better part of an hour. THIS is what the WWG is all about.
Here's a portion of an email already in our inbox when we returned home.
"Joni & Friends Team:
I would like to say a great big THANK YOU! Joni & Friends and all who were involved as well as the Warriors/families that participated blessed my soul and my wife's (also a warrior). I pray this can be implemented at most major military installations that deploy Soldiers frequently (Fort Bragg, NC; Fort Lewis, WA; Fort Carson, CO; Fort Benning, GA or Fort Stewart, GA; Fort Hood, TX; Fort Drum, NY; Fort Riley, KS; Fort Polk, LA & Fort Campbell, KY). It is a chance for families to be renewed and strengthened inside and outside. God has definitely taken something like a disability that most would say is a negative or bad thing, and made it into a true blessing and the devil can’t stop it. God never ceases to amaze me how He orchestrates miracles and blessings in a dim situation. With the Love and kindness shown, people will be drawn to Him. You all did that!!!"
Amber: Wow! This is a powerful program!
Have you learned anything about humility while working with WWG that you could share with us?
KC: YES! One is humbled in the presence of true heroes. The officer forced to make excruciating decisions after the IED explosion - his medic was killed and he couldn't save all his men. The warrior who wants to be a good husband and father, but can hardly care for himself. The wife who stands by the man she loves, the man who has changed so dramatically through no fault of his own. The teen who struggles with protecting his younger siblings and Mom OR trusting that his Dad can truly be in charge of the household once again. The husband who tenderly nurses his beautiful wife (now an amputee) back to health.
When a warrior stops you in the parking lot to chat, then pours out his heart and asks you to pray with him - This is holy ground, and it IS humbling.
The most humbling thing of all is to realize that you are part of someone's eternal destiny. Over a dozen people came to faith in Christ at the April Getaway.
Amber: What are some of the ways we could learn more about WWG and get involved (actively, financially, or otherwise)?
KC: Please click HERE to go to the website or call 210-481-5664. The program is expanding because of the urgent need. (I heard on the radio last week that over 25,000 wounded Marines have returned. That's just the Marines.) In addition to the events twice a year with Brooke Army Medical Center, Joni and Friends has added getaways with Walter Reed Army Hospital. The first one was last month.
As far as participation, there are several ways for grateful Americans to join in. Families receive goodie bags upon arrival. We need items like handwritten thank you notes, Christian books and music, Bibles, snacks, crayons, gift cards. We also have prizes such as cameras, DVD players, Wii games. Many choose to donate dollars, to sponsor events such as the BBQ dinner, climbing wall, fishing, horseback riding or an afternoon of pampering.
But the best way is to come join us and see for yourself! These experiences have greatly blessed our marriage, serving the Lord and our warrior families in this way.
Amber: How can we pray for you and all those involved with WWG?
KC: Prayer is THE most important part. Pray especially for the Chaplains. Especially them…
Kleenex alert!!! Charlynn, one of the volunteers, takes part as a clown and other characters too! Here is a sample of her impression of things and some prayer requests:
"I know many of the soldiers and their families. We have stayed in touch with each other over the two years since the Wounded Warrior Getaways began. I look forward to meeting the newcomers and welcoming them with the overflowing joy of the Lord.
The returning children look forward to seeing Care EE the clown, having their faces painted and playing with all the funny clothes, hair and hats. But I never cease to be amazed at the site of grown men, grinning from ear to ear as they try on floral hats, boas, and wigs that make them look like Rock Stars. It is better than Disneyland - and it is certainly like no place on earth.
Two new warriors came in our "Imagination Station." The husband and wife (both soldiers, both wounded) tried to take it all in, while smiles of wonderment broke across their faces. A green haired volunteer began to make her "sales pitch."
"Over here, you can try on one of these lovely outrageous costumes. Located on the shelves, fancy hats to assure you feel, well... fancy. And as you can see strewn across the tables against the walls - wigs of every color, length and style."
Their heads twisted from side to side. They laughed. The wife put on a pink and white feather boa and topped her look off with a "Salvador Dali" style artist's beret. Her husband started looking through the hairpieces and wigs, carefully weighing each style. Care EE was quick to assist.
"No, what I am looking for is something I can clip on." He was particular and purposeful. He finally found an elaborately braided clip-on blonde hairpiece which he attached to his safari hat. He flung his new found persona into Rock Icon mode. His wife laughed. They both posed for the commemorative photo.
She only had one leg. He had suffered burns over 80% of his body.
Who could have imagined this day? Who would have predicted their laughter?
From Psalm 126 The Message "We laughed, we sang, we couldn't believe our good fortune. We were the talk of the nations. "God was wonderful to them!" God was wonderful to us; we are one happy people."
Pray for "appointments" with the Great Physician
Pray for healing of unseen psychological wounds
Pray for wisdom of the volunteers handling the breakout sessions with the warriors and caregivers
Pray for enduring strength for the volunteers and staff of Joni and Friends
Pray for time with our guest speakers to make an impact
Pray for joy everlasting through salvation
Rejoice for the victories
Rejoice for greater is He that is with us, than he that is in the world
Rejoice for the resurrection power
Rejoice for the freedom we have to share the Gospel
Rejoice that death has no victory
Rejoice for our King is on the way"
[Also,] there is a WWG Oct 27-31, so pray for all participants, please!
Amber, I'm so glad to have "met" you through the gracious ladies at Seekerville. You're doing a wonderful job with your own blog and are a super inspiration to me!
If anyone wants to ask questions directly, they are welcome to contact me. Know that I'm only a volunteer, but I'm honored, and yes, humbled, to help our military any way I can.
Thank YOU for your heart!!!!
Amber: KC, it has been a pleasure to feature you and WWG today. Thank you for the wonderful example of love, caring, and dedication you have shown us. You are an inspiration, and may God bless the work that you and others are doing through WWG!
Note to readers: I just thought I would draw your attention to a new page for "Mondays for the Military." (The list of pages is in the top right section of the sidebar.) It includes a list of upcoming events and a way to contact me concerning this feature. Thank you for making it such a success!