Borne The Battle 154: Benefits Breakdown – VA Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiative

Conrad Washington, Marine Veteran, acting director for the center


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The VA Center of Faith’s and Opportunity Initiative’s mission is “engage, inform and educate faith-based, nonprofit and community/neighborhood organizations in VA programs to better serve the needs of Veterans, their families, survivors, caregivers and other beneficiaries.” Basically, VA understands that sometimes, local clergy is the best way to reach a Veteran. Therefore, VA set up a resource for local clergy so they can be the one to tell the Veteran what is available to them.

The current leader spearheading this initiative is the acting director of VA Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiative, Conrad Washington. In this episode he breaks down how your local clergy can get involved with the program. Through partnerships, resources and outreach events, the Center of Faith currently have multiple ways for faith-based leaders to get involved.

At a recent outreach event in Lebanon, Tennessee, the Center of Faith partnered with Dr. Ben Graham of Music City Baptist Church to bring VA resources and information to the local area.

The collaboration had breakout and panels that discussed:
  • Suicide Prevention
  • Telehealth
  • Caregiver Programs
  • Homelessness
  • Chaplain Community Clergy
  • Veterans Benefit’s Administration Resources
  • Google Inc. Veteran Programs
PHOTOS FROM THE EVENT
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In addition, he breaks down his own career. Conrad is a former Marine Corps administrator and drill instructor. After leaving service, Conrad went from a security guard to specializing in security education as an Information Security Specialist for the National Geospatial Intelligence Agency – in the same building. Currently in seminary school, he explains how his career combined with his faith eventually landed him in the VA Secretary’s Office and into his current role as the acting director for the VA Center of Faith and Opportunity Initiative.

Enjoy.

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Author

Tanner Iskra

Tanner Iskra has been a video producer for the VA’s Digital Media Engagement team since October of 2018. He is a Marine Corps Veteran, having served as a Combat Videographer. During his military career, he deployed to Iraq in 2005 as well as to Romania, Latvia, Bulgaria, Germany, France and Spain as part of the Black Sea Rotational Force. Tanner is a graduate of the Cronkite School of Journalism at Arizona State University with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communication and Media Studies and holds a Certificate in Military Motion Media from the Newhouse School of Journalism at Syracuse University.

Comments

  1. Carolyn Strickland    

    My heart breaks when I read comments and stories this is a good thing to put this into place yes we do need clergy biblical principles and prayer everything is failing it does make a difference to fellowship with other vets so thankful my pastor is vet I get so encourage strengthen courage though his ministry what every u go through don’t give up hope don’t quit our spiritual man has to be feed daily as will your soul will be bless

  2. Sylvia Stanley    

    The va like to cover up mistakes they make, with veteran’s care. It’s too late for my daughter… But i promise her that i will finish her fight with the va. And expose the wrongs that was imposed on her during her va visits

  3. Ray Teems    

    My opinion is most veterans need some kind of counseling whether it be personal, physical or spiritual. This appears a way and a means to reach out to give guidance to veterans who need direction. I really don’t know much about the initiative but I do think doing something is better than doing nothing. Perhaps the VA could have a symposium so that all of us desiring to help could get all our questions answered. Thank You Vets for your Sacrifice and Service!.

  4. Chaplain/Rev. Dr. Patricia A. Johnson Dowtn    

    It breaks my heart that Mr. Strange believes, and has written, the only thing a Chaplain/Clergy can do is to tell veterans/people to read the Bible and pray. I have learned, and strongly believe, the Word of God and Prayer are two of the most powerful weapons we as believers have been given by God to help us navigate this journey called life! This Chaplain/Clergy is one who listens with an attentive ear, and a loving and caring heart. She/he knows who, what, when, where, how and why to make referrals based upon an individuals situation and needs. The Chaplain/Clergy is one of a team with many members, working towards a common goal of helping the veteran/person/family to get much needed help. They also help educate them about other resources within their community, church, and the VA System. Often times the Chaplain/Clergy is an individual with the knowledge, qualifications, and/or strength, to get/achieve things on the individual’s behalf that they are unable to achieve alone. I believe it is a much needed, added benefit, for all concerned.

  5. Robert e Rogers    

    Getting tired of being call a liar by the Veterans Administration officials.

  6. Bob Brownson    

    We are a small but very active church close to the Bedford (MA) VA Hospital. We have a men’s group that would like to help out in some way, visiting veterans, bringing them to church, holding Bible studies in the hospital, etc. How do we get involved? Or how can we otherwise help. Many of us are veterans, Army, Navy, Air Force.

    1. Tanner Iskra    

      Hi Bob,

      The links to get contact the Center of Faith are towards the end of the blog. In the podcast episode, Conrad and I also share his the center’s contact information.

  7. Juan M Turnes    

    How can a clergy member become involved with this program?Thanks

    1. Tanner Iskra    

      Hi Juan,

      The links to get contact the Center of Faith are in the links towards the end of the blog. Conrad also outlines how to get involved in the episode.

  8. Osas    

    The VA should hire qualified, professionally counselors who actually know how treat a veterans anxieties, including medications if needed. What can the “clergy” do besides tell the veteran to “read the bible and pray more”.

    1. Jens Randolff    

      Your comment shows a certain level of ignorance, and a definite bias against religion and clergy. At least with regard to the Christian faith, many members of the clergy actually have at least some training in social work and counseling. They just do so from a Biblical perspective. Of course, unless you actually have faith in someone higher than yourself no effort by clergy will be of any benefit to you due to your inherent bias, no matter how well-trained they might be. My advice to you is to simply not ask for or to accept assistance from a clergy person. Let them be available to those who appreciate their outreach. Problem solved. God bless.

  9. John Gilson    

    I justed recently started looking into services for veterans went to VA hospital first time 2yrs ago in East Orange NJ my wife was with me it was amazing seeing that many veterans again after 50 yrs.i signed up got my card even joined the American legion.things have really changed since the 60s.glad to see vets getting treated better. Thanks.

  10. Kerry Haynes    

    How does this work dovetail with the Community Clergy Training Network, a VA program aimed at building relationships between VA and community clergy?

  11. Susan Bronkhorst    

    Can you bring in or make Orthodox Christian Priests available?

  12. Fr. Michael A. Hanly, USMCL    

    As a retired Roman Catholic Priest, I was happy to hear of this long overdue ministry to our Veterans. I am an active member of the USMCL Slattery Detachment
    #206 in Whippany, New Jersey.
    My father is (was) a WW II U S MARINE.
    Over the last 10/12 years we went to the U s Naval Hospital in Bethesda (now WALTER Reed). At present we visit the Lyons Hospital in NJ.
    Any information from you would be most appreciated. Fr. Michael A. Hanly

    1. Tanner Iskra    

      Hello Michael,

      The links to get contact the Center of Faith are towards the end of the blog. In the podcast episode, Conrad and I also share how ministries can get involved.

  13. Rev. Carolyn Cocozza Scotti    

    I am an interfaith ordained minister as would love to be a part of the clergy network of ministers. I live in Connecticut!!!

    1. Tanner Iskra    

      Hi Carolyn,

      The links to get contact the Center of Faith are in the links towards the end of the blog. Conrad also outlines how to get involved in the episode.

  14. Albert henry    

    Great for Veterans to have some one who is interested in veterans affaires

  15. Chaplain PE Jones    

    I am so grateful to see this post about the VA connecting or shall I say partnering up with the local clergy in regards to our many service members who is transitioning back into society. As a wife of a now double amputee veteran. There was no such thing for me and the many wives that I came into contact with and we faced real struggles and issues. Yet, as for me if it was not for my dependance on my faith and how my trials was turned around for testimonies to share the goodness of my source and how my strength in Jesus kept me from falling on death grounds that when likewise when people focus not on the problem but the problem solver, great things will happen unto them as well. Today, I’m 10 years strong with the American Legion Auxiliary and the Chaplain of our unit. In addition, I continue to be a light wherever my feet tread and continue to encourage and enlighten whenever the opportunity presents itself. In enclosing, I would like to leave on this note, Jesus will not only bring you to, but through your fire, but you must not lean to your understanding, but his, he’ll NEVER disappoint you.

  16. Wayne O. Strange    

    A Department of Clergy? What? And I guess that the VA will pay the Clergy, from tax dollars. And just what qualifications for counseling does clergy have? Answer: NONE.
    The VA should hire qualified, professionally counselors who actually know how treat a veterans anxieties, including medications if needed. What can the “clergy” do besides tell the veteran to “read the bible and pray more”.

    1. M J Scott    

      Very good show. You provided some great insights, that I am going to pass along in my church. I am quite sure there are many in our community that don’t know the full story, or the resources they have available to them, or their spouses. This is just one more avenue the VA has to connect to vets. Thank you again.

    2. Raymond Carl Pack    

      Mr. Strange is not failing to live up to his name as he seems to know that everyone involved wont be qualified to provide support. Yep, the hate is strong in this one.

    3. Philip    

      A clergy would help people who do believe in God. If it’s not for you, then the local VA has trained counseling that’s specific for PTSD. I have learned through my healing from being a combat veteran, that those counselors do not really have combat experience, and talk in circles. Clergymen are usually licensed marital and personal counselors also with degrees in theology. The clergy they are talking about is trying to expand missions to local churches and outreaches by feeding homeless, helping single parent families, and giving counseling which actually might help some like me. I believe the clergymen will provide you with a lot more insight on benefits than the VA’s overwhelming incompetence.

    4. Stephen Jeffreys    

      Mr. Strange I’m sorry you feel the way you do. I personally applaud the VA’s holistic approach to treating the veteran. A human being is composed of a body mind and spirit. Just pushing pills on a person does not really accomplish the mission of the VA for veterans especially combat veterans like me. There are many programs with documented positive results when the spiritual nature of a veteran is treated, such as the “Reboot for Combat Veterans” program. You are narrow and Ignorant of you is distressing. I hope you can find help for yourself.

    5. Jens Randolff    

      @Wayne O Strange. Your comment shows a certain level of ignorance, and a definite bias against religion and clergy. At least with regard to the Christian faith, many members of the clergy actually have at least some training in social work and counseling. They just do so from a Biblical perspective. Of course, unless you actually have faith in someone higher than yourself no effort by clergy will be of any benefit to you due to your inherent bias, no matter how well-trained they might be. My advice to you is to simply not ask for or to accept assistance from a clergy person. Let them be available to those who appreciate their outreach. Problem solved. God bless.

  17. Chad Childers    

    This is awesome! A veteran usually finds out about programs by default if they find out at all.

Comments are closed.