By Peggy Eastman
All Saints Church in Chevy Chase, Md., will host a free healing and prayer retreat for combat veterans and their spouses April 10-12. The April retreat, called WHI Washington, is a project of the national Welcome Home Initiative (WHI) and is open to high-ranking officers who have seen combat.
WHI, which is based at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center in Greenwich, N.Y., is a ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Albany. An October 2012 WHI retreat for more combat veterans is planned at All Saints Church.
Private donations will cover all costs, including travel and housing. Presenters will include the Rev. Nigel W.D. Mumford, director of Healing Ministries at Christ the King Spiritual Life Center and a former drill instructor with the Commando Training Center, United Kingdom Royal Marines; Lt. Col. Noel C.E. Dawes, former infantry officer in the British Army, and the Rt. Rev. David Bena, a retired U.S. Air Force chaplain and former U.S. Marine Corps bombardier navigator. Retreat participants will stay at the Chevy Chase Club, a 10-minute walk from All Saints Church.
While some physical wounds of war are clearly visible, “some of the most severe wounds of combat are invisible,” said the Rev. Tom Malionek, associate rector at All Saints.
“Veterans bring with them deep hurts and exposure to often unspeakable evils,” he said. He cited post-traumatic stress disorder; hypervigilance; problems adjusting from combat to home life; sleep disturbances; and other psychological problems.
The free retreat’s mission is to show appreciation for the men and women serving in the armed forces and their families; to help those who have suffered physical, psychological or spiritual trauma in combat by providing ministry and resources for health and healing; and to connect combat veterans with combat stress and trauma experts, critical incident debriefing specialists; marriage and family life counselors; and prayer teams.
Retreat activities will be anchored by intercessory prayer on- and off-site, and will include talks by veterans and trauma specialists; discussion groups; opportunities for reflection and healing prayer throughout; meals and fellowship; and relaxation and fun. An optional bus tour of Washington — cherry blossoms, war memorials and other sights — will be offered for retreat participants on April 12.
To register or for information on registration, or to refer a high-ranking officer who has seen combat to the WHI retreat, write to WHI.Washington@gmail.com or call Malionek at (301) 654-2488.