We enjoy great freedoms in the United States. Let us never forget the men and women who have laid their lives on the line to defend and protect our precious liberties. The annual celebration of Veterans Day invites us to remember those killed in the line of duty, those still suffering the effects of their generous response in times of national need, and, of course, everyone who has retired from active duty. We cannot forget the sacrifices of so many. We sense an obligation to express our gratitude, and we certainly remember them in our prayers.
Just before the week of Veterans Day this year I had the opportunity to spend some time with the priests in Department of Veterans Affairs (VA) Medical Centers throughout the country at their annual convocation. They are good reminders of this archdiocese’s care for the spiritual needs of veterans. Healing must be of the whole person. Catholics undergoing treatment in the nation’s VAs, along with their families who suffer at their side, have a right to receive the sacraments, spiritual consolation, and the presence of a priest.
Bishop Richard Higgins, my Vicar for Veterans Affairs, takes charge of endorsing a sufficient number of chaplains for these Medical Centers and visits them regularly. As often as I can, I, too, visit the VAs. In mid-September in the context of a brief visit, I confirmed a patient at the Battle Creek VA. It was so important to bring the fullness of the Spirit to one who had generously served the nation. It is a way of manifesting that we care about their sacrifice. We see in them the face of the Lord Jesus who identifies Himself with those who suffer.
Archbishop Timothy Broglio JCD
Archdiocese for the Military