OK, I’m not certain that this was a service member, but based on the picture and the fact that he said he has PTSD, it is a reasonable assumption.
As an Army Chaplain, my heart goes out to those who are surviving and recovering from over a decade of persistant conflict. Most people who are not in the military or do not have family members in the military don’t have a clue about what these service members have experienced or are going through now. Many, however, want to help in some way . . . in any way that they can, so they try. Somethimes it is a kind “thank you for your service!” accompanyined by a firm handshake or a loving hug. Other times it is a meal paid for by an unknown but appreciative observer. Many times, it is a kind “hello” with the further message in their eyes that says, “I can’t imagine what you have gone through, and don’t know what to say to you, but thanks for what you have done.” As one who has deployed to both Iraq and Afghanistan, I can say that all of these gestures, however small they may seem, are appreciated.
The following article shows how one worker at the Church of the Nazarene’s recent General Assembly in Indianapolis displayed conern, and did all she could to help. I applaud this woman’s compassion and willingness to go out of her way to help someone in need- even if she didn’t understand what he was going through.
Empty Room Fills With Special Story at GA
Susan Fischer, an account manager for the event planning company Experient — a Maritz Travel Company, noticed a man and his service dog prior to the Sunday morning service at this year’s General Assembly in Indianapolis. She asked if he needed assistance with registration, and took a special interest in his story because of her previous work with service dogs.
“He told me he had post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD),” Fischer said. “I kind of took him under my wing. We chit-chatted for a bit and I helped him register.”
The man explained that he was unsure if he and his dog were ready to attend the event, but his trainer encouraged them.
Fischer directed the pair to an overflow space in Halls ABC instead of the main sanctuary. A little while later, she noticed him walking around in the hallway outside.
“There were some other people there and it was still kind of loud,” she said. “It just didn’t fit.”
Next they went to Hall G. The room was set up with more than 2,500 chairs for emergency overflow, but it was empty.
“Even though we spent all this money and almost no one is sitting there, it was worth it because it was just for him,” Fischer said.
A General Assembly volunteer later took the a photo of the man and his dog. The story and photo became a favorite among the event staff.
“Looking at that picture brings tears to my eyes,” Fischer said. “He got to worship and meet his goal of attending the service.”