Photo by Matt Miller
LOUISVILLE, Ky. (BP)--Gen. Douglas Carver, chief of chaplains for the U.S. Army, thanked Southern Baptists for the 1,300 SBC military chaplains who minister to some 3 million American troops in service around the world.
"We're looking at the best of this generation, 1 percent of the American population -- soldiers, sailors, airmen, marines and coast guardsmen -- who are carrying the burden for 300 million Americans in one of the most difficult and challenging times in the history of our nation," Carver told participants in the annual chaplains luncheon June 22 preceding the Southern Baptist Convention annual meeting in Louisville, Ky.
Carver, himself a Southern Baptist from Rome, Ga., reminded the crowd of 150 that America remains a nation at war.
"We've been at war since 9/11 when our nation was attacked. Those devastating images still resonate in our soul as we lost some 3,000 people at the World Trade Center, the Pentagon and in a lonely cornfield in Pennsylvania," Carver said. "May we never forget and may it remind us of the cost of staying free.
"I represent about 1.2 million soldiers and a total of 2,700 chaplains of all faiths in the Army, Reserves and National Guard," Carver added. "Some 200,000 of our soldiers are scattered in over 80 countries across the globe."
Carver said while most of the troops are in Iraq and Afghanistan, some are in dangerous locales like the Horn of Africa, where they combat human trafficking, drugs and piracy.
More than 5,000 Americans have been killed since the war began in Iraq and Afghanistan, Carver noted.
"We have had 30,000 wounded in action and 1,000 of these are amputees," Carver said. "Those who suffer amputation experience 20 or 25 surgeries before they are dismissed from a military hospital. I know of one soldier who underwent 60 surgeries before he was released."
These casualties don't include what Carver called the "invisible" ones, the thousands who have suffered the trauma of combat. "They have images they will take to their graves unless they are miraculously healed from those memories by the Lord Jesus Christ," Carver said.
Last year, the U.S. Army recorded the largest number of suicides ever, more than 140, Carver added. Read More