Lt. Col. Tim Cross and Victoria Cross visit OR

This weekend my wife Kimberly and I had the honor of hosting Lt. Col. Tim Cross and his wife Victoria. Tim emphasized that many view Memorial Day as the official kickoff of summer and forget the reason behind it.

He told a story about Chaplain (Col.) Dennington who would break in new chaplains by telling them to write an essay about what their purpose was. Few gave the answer he was wanting. After listening to their explanation, Chap. Dennington would simply say their purpose was “to prepare Soldiers to die”.

Tim drove this point home by sharing some of his experiences of losing friends in combat and having to deliver the news to wives, moms, dads and siblings. This is one of the primary responsibilities of the chaplains we work with and we’ve seen it during OR events. Sometimes it is after deployment, like the group who came right after losing a man during the pullout from Afghanistan. Other times there has been a training accident, or a soldier made the decision to end his own life.

It takes a toll. Not only are chaplains consoling grieving families but they are also dealing with their own grief at losing friends that they have been “in the trenches with” emotionally and sometimes physically.

Our mission is not only caring for servicemen and women who have signed on to lay down their lives (What other job asks 18-year-olds to make out a will?), but also chaplains taking the same risks and preparing their friends for death. OR helps chaplains faced with this difficult task by providing times that restore their souls so they can go back to their groups ready to serve those who sacrifice.