Soul Care to help churches minister to returning veterans and families

New healing ministry from JustPeace, the United Methodist Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation

JustPeace, the United Methodist Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation, announced in an April 7 news release the launch of Soul Care, an initiative to develop spiritual understanding and ways to speak to a hurting soul within the context of trauma and moral injury that returning veterans and their families often confront.

The mission of Soul Care is to enable faith-based organizations to receive returning veterans and re-integrate them and their families into the community. Soul Care provides resources and collaboration on the cultivation of spiritual care and resiliency.

Faith communities are uniquely positioned to help in this endeavor by offering hospitality, hope, new life, love and compassion. With enhanced awareness, education, coaching and support, churches can be empowered to render an invaluable ministry to returning veterans and their families.

“The care of souls is at the heart of the United Methodist witness,” said Bishop Hope Morgan Ward, president of JustPeace. “This initiative is a gift to faith communities as we engage in the healing ministry of Christ.”

Soul Care has launched a website that highlights research, resources and organizations to assist faith communities to address the needs of returning service members in a sensitive, healing manner.

The Rev. Dave Smith, a retired U.S. Army chaplain, is coordinator for the Soul Care Initiative. He deployed numerous times in support of contingency and combat operations during his 30 years of active duty. He is available to conduct workshops and consult on empowering faith communities with ways to be in ministry to returning veterans and their families.

“For many of our returning veterans, even after they return home, they are still at war,” Smith pointed out. “Healing the wounded soul is an underserved component of veteran well-being.”

A spiritual dimension

Smith emphasized that maintaining health and wholeness includes a spiritual dimension.

“The battlefield became a test of the soul as the warrior confronted the horrors of war,” he said. “Often traumatic experiences, like those in combat, affect the mind, body and soul.”

Smith explained that Soul Care addresses the aspect of well-being that captures a person’s overall spiritual health. “The Church has an opportunity, a responsibility, a calling to be part of the veteran’s journey home,” he said.

For more information, contact Smith via email ( or phone (202-488-5621), or visit

The mission of the JustPeace Center for Mediation and Conflict Transformation is to prepare and assist United Methodists in engaging conflict constructively in ways that strive for justice, reconciliation, resource preservation and restoration of community in the Church and in the world.