By Shelley Mahoney
BEL AIR, Md. — Laverne Cash, a member at Oak Grove Baptist Church, in Bel Air, Md., has always had a heart for the military.
As a retired civilian employee at the Department of the Army, Cash has seen firsthand the struggles that many active duty service-members and veterans deal with on a daily basis.
When she recently visited her mother at an SBC church in North Carolina and attended Reboot — a nationwide faith-based program for those who have PTSD — Cash was captivated by the compelling stories that she heard. Three people shared about the pain they had experienced and how the 12-week trauma recovery program run by the church had helped them heal and move past the isolation and desperation they had experienced to find freedom in Christ. As she listened, Cash knew that she needed to start a ministry like this at her church, primarily because of Oak Grove’s proximity to Aberdeen Proving Ground.
The leadership at OGBC caught Cash’s vision, and the church whole-heartedly supported the program.
“Reboot Alliance sponsors the course, and the church pays for it, so there is no charge for veterans,” explained Cash. “We provide dinner, course materials, a study guide, a certificate of completion, a t-shirt and other expenses. The spouses are also welcome to attend.”
“It’s not a support group,” she added. “It’s a way to help them deal with what they experienced in combat.”
The church reached out to those who were familiar with the traumas of combat to teach the course. Iraqi war veteran David Roberts and Vietnam war veteran Alan Hixs co-lead the group and teach classes while Cash coordinates the program.
“One common theme with this type of program is an isolation mentality—people come into the program thinking that they’re the only ones dealing with this,” said Cash. “Once they get into it they start hearing stories from fellow combat veterans and realize they aren’t alone and start supporting each other. That–plus the Christ-based center–helps them come out of it.”
More than 4,000 combat veterans and first responders have graduated from Reboot programs all over the country. In Reboot’s 2017 Combat Recovery Outcomes, nearly 100% of students recommended the course after completion, and 89% said they felt comfortable reaching out to other members of the group for support. Character strengths including wisdom and knowledge, courage, humanity, justice, temperance, and transcendence are measured before and after course completion, and there is improvement across the board in virtually every participant.
Oak Grove Baptist Church feels that this is not only an opportunity to improve lives but a chance to share the life-changing power of the gospel to people who need to hear it most.
The church will the movie “We Are Stronger” on February 15 at 7 pm and February 16 at 2:30 pm to promote the program.
Reboot at Oak Grove Baptist Church kicks off on March 19 at 6:30 pm. Interested parties can contact Laverne Cash by emailing her at [email protected] or calling the church office at (410) 838-9898.
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