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Counseling on the Front Lines

Jane Pauley interviews a minister who left his church to help soldiers in Iraq

Q. How is ministering to a soldier different from a civilian?

A. As a chaplain, I'm right there with our servicemen, living in their environment. I am in the trenches with them, and it's direct ministry, which is deeply fulfilling for me. Sometimes in my parish, the issues were, 'I don't like this Sunday school teacher' or 'I don't like the color of the carpet.' That doesn't really compare to, 'we had a rocket attack last night, and I don't think I can continue this' or 'I saw my friend blown up and I don't know what to do.' It's just a different level of interaction with people. 

Q. How was it for you being in a war zone?

A. I experienced some traumatic things while in the Air Force as a young man, and had the great opportunity to work through them. I brought something different to the war zone than someone that is 20 years old and experiencing this for the first time. But when the rockets are coming in, I was afraid just as anyone else. I think I was a little more resilient maybe than some folks.

Q. What do you plan to do in the future?

A. I'm assigned in Fort Hood (Texas) right now and after a year I'm going back to Minnesota to work part time as a chaplain. I'm also thinking about branching out and helping others outside of the military as a part-time therapist. I'm not exactly sure what the future holds but I do know what I've done has been an extremely intense and very rich experience.

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