Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital has been hosting many events in support of veterans in the past year.
For Veteran's Day, the Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital Department of Mission & Spiritual Care hosted an event that was not the typical ceremony celebrated throughout the community. This observance featured a very informational and important speaker championing support of the veteran community.
General James Mukoyama, a veteran of over thirty years of active and reserve duty in the Army, including service in Korea and Vietnam, spoke honestly about the challenges veterans face when returning home.
General Mukoyama, was born and raised in Chicago. He shared that his upbringing that included attending church weekly with his family, prepared him to handle many issues veterans struggle with when they return home. The first Asian American to command a United States Army division, he was on his radio giving instructions to other commanders after winning a conflict in Vietnam - only to realize he was standing with three dead Viet Cong soldiers at his feet.
"I remembered the Sermon on the Mount, specifically the verse 'Love your enemies and pray for those that persecute you'," Gen. Mukoyama shared. "I realized these soldiers were children of God with parents and families. I stopped and prayed for them."
He went on to explain that the prayer was not very long, maybe not more than 30 seconds, but it helped him come to terms with his situation. Mukoyama shared that having the foundation of a close-knit family and his faith allows him to wake up every day positive and grateful.
Gen. Mukoyama explained challenges many veterans face when they come home. He pointed out that many of the injuries experienced are not visible to veteran's friends and family. Physical Trauma & Injuries, and Post Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) are more obvious and fairly well known. Moral Injury is not communicated as often, yet common among veterans. He shared that most soldiers enter the services after growing up in communities with moral standards. What they have learned becomes part of their inner core or soul. As a soldier, there are times when they must act in a way that goes against their upbringing, creating moral dilemmas. The loss of military culture, being surrounded by peers and knowing what they are supposed to do each day, also creates a void in their lives. Even the people closest to the veteran may not fully understand internal struggles they are experiencing.
The Department of Veteran Affairs estimates that twenty veterans a day commit suicide. The risk is estimated to be 21% higher than that of civilian adults. Health providers to veterans are increasing the availability and access to trained mental health professionals, but veterans and their families must know how to identify a problem and reach out for help. A better-informed community can help provide the support needed for our veterans and hopefully, bring down the numbers of those who choose to take their life.
Since his retirement from active service, General Mukoyama has been working with Military Outreach a faith-based not-for-profit organization dedicated to supporting the military community. They provide programs and resources to community organizations and churches so they can support those in need in their communities.
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital has been providing a series of informational and educational sessions in support of veterans. The events are hosted by Rev. Fred Rajan, Vice President of Mission and Spiritual Care. Learn more about future programs by contacting: firstname.lastname@example.org
Advocate Good Shepherd Hospital's choir took part in the special Veterans Day observance providing music and sing along opportunities.
The hospital also installed a new monument outside of the front entrance dedicated to those who have served in one of the five branches of the United States Armed Forces.