The healing of a soul can only be performed by the Great Physician. There comes to some of us life experiences which are too grievous for the human heart to bear. These experiences are suffered the world over every day, by people in every country, of every race, every station in life, and in all kinds of situations. These events are not any more frequent than they have ever been for humanity, for since that incident which first brought sin into God's perfect world causing ripples of chaos, unimaginable pain has been the result. If the reader has a problem with the word sin, I urge them to define in any other one word the tumult which abounds everywhere.
One such wound of the soul can occur in service in the military during war time. That first day when Jared Campbell and his family arrived from Ft. Polk, Louisiana, on the front porch of Soldier's Heart Ranch and I opened the door, I saw the terror and suffering in his eyes. Jared's PTSD which developed from his service in Iraq with the United States Army was severe and debilitating. He had spent four months as an inpatient in the psychiatric unit of the Temple Texas VA Hospital, because he had been so desperate for help. That first visit was in December of 2010, and on New Year's Eve my husband, who was retiring after his own 30 year career in the Army, myself, and his wife, put their two children to bed, and then sat down together. We had planned for this time where the duties of parenting two small children could be set aside, so that Jared could tell the story of his military service.
Even the way that we met was miraculous in nature. While I was in Hemstead, Texas, looking for horses for the ranch, I went to a ranch, and explained to the trainer what we were trying to do at Soldier's Heart. The horse breeder/trainer listened so intently as I explained our ministry. The quiet man then began telling me of a couple at his church who always requested prayer for their son who was suffering from severe PTSD. He asked if we had fishing opportunities at our ranch, and remarked that the man often tried to take his son fishing, because that seemed to help relieve his stress briefly. I told him that we did, and I gave the man a card, and told him to pass it on to the couple.
Evidently the man did just that, for in about a month, the phone rang, and an anxious voice asked if they had reached Soldier's Heart Ranch. After much questioning, and my assurance that yes, there were no charges what-so-ever for his family visiting the ranch, and that we would love to have them as our guests, he seemed to decide that he and his family would like to come. Then I remarked, "Well there is one charge... I want you to tell me a war story, that is the fee for your stay." He hung up on me. Then in a couple of days, he called back and explained that he had never told anyone all that happened to him in war, and he did not think that he could ever tell anyone, but for some reason even he did not understand, he had decided to tell us.
My husband Randy was on leave from his own duties in Iraq when the family arrived, and we had such a wonderful time visiting, and Randy and I spent time watching the two children while the young couple explored the ranch. Jared fished, and Heather spent time with the horses. Heather is a horse woman, and finds great solace in time spent with the gentle animals which are a part of Soldier's Heart. So when we sat down that evening our roles had been defined by our interactions. My husband represented for Jared the leadership to which he was never afforded the opportunity to express the sacrifices and personal tragedies that following their orders had brought to his life. The single greatest failure of the United States Military leadership, is that of not truly availing themselves of that type of information. Surely were that the first priority and consideration after the defense of the country, decision making would be much more accurately conducted.
We sat down about 10 P.M., and for the next six hours, my husband and myself heard part of the most remarkable story of courage and perseverance I imagine that I ever will. That was not enough time for the whole story, not only was I spellbound, but a chill swept over me as I realized, there really was no explanation for Jared being alive to tell his story. Jared, the best I can recall, was involved in at least eight "roll overs" after his up-armored vehicle hit IEDs. I have never heard of anyone else surviving more. There wasn't time or energy for the whole story, we literally heard all we could bear that night, and the Soldier told all he could endure telling. Forever the details of that long tale will be etched on my heart, and define my utmost respect for those who serve, and for the families who support them.
Jared did not make a complete unexplainable recovery that night. The extent of "therapy" offered at the ranch is prayer with and for the Service Member and their family, and my husband presented Jared with a copy of The Patriot's Bible. Over the months and years of visits that followed, we both watched Jared not only heal, but embrace his experiences and come to peace with them. Even more miraculously, we watched him rise from the ashes of a broken life, to become another kind of Warrior, a Survivor Warrior, whose life is dedicated to helping those who have shared the like burdens of war.
Jared, and his wife Heather, now own property of their own in the area, and they raise and train service dogs for those who suffer from PTSD, but that is another wonderful story. Jared has asked me about helping him write the story of his life and what God has done for him. I look forward to completing that project before summer is out.
The web site below will give you the opportunity to contribute to the work that Jared and his wife are engaged in. Heather also served in the United States Army, what a dynamic relationship they have, which has survived PTSD, and many other challenges. When God is in charge, great love is born of great adversity. As Americans, we are all indebted to the men and women who face the threats that exist against our country, and give what is necessary to defend us all. They aren't given the opportunity to question the politics or expenses involved, nor do they have a voice in policy making, or even get to decide where they and their families will live. Their families know sacrifice as well, deployments have taken from our military the experiencing of life events which are of the "one of a kind" variety, and lost forever, and many other things the rest of us take for granted. Not everyone who serves is honorable, possessed with service that comes from a patriot's heart, but by far the service of most of those who stand in the gap is the greatest sacrifice made for our country. Truly America's military are, for the most part, the best among us. I can tell you that from all that I have encountered just in my own limited experiences and interactions with Service Members, our country does not meet the needs of those who have come home from war, never to be the same. Our government is incapable of meeting the needs of all who have served. Just as Jared and his wife have done, we must all find our own part in the support of our heroes. Up until this point, the work Jared and Heather have done has been from their hearts, and their own resources. Perhaps your part lies in becoming a contributor to the work that Jared and Heather have committed their lives and fortunes to. We are signing up for a monthly commitment, knowing the true cost of healing for Veterans. All the "government provided" help combined cannot match the love, compassion, and assistance offered Warrior to Warrior on a personal level. Since Johnathan loved David, iron has sharpened iron, and it seems once a hero, always a hero...