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Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts
Army chaplain Darren Turner, left, wound up quitting the Army for a spell after returning home from Iraq.
May 26th, 2012
10:00 PM ET

Battlefield chaplain’s war unfolded on many fronts

Editor’s note: CNN.com writer Moni Basu is author of “Chaplain Turner's War,” published by Agate Digital.

By Moni Basu, CNN

Atlanta, Georgia (CNN) - Darren Turner insisted on going to war, even though the Army usually reserves desk jobs at home for new chaplains like him.

Turner was young and green, enthusiastic about taking God to the battlefield. The Army captain had learned that people in pain are often wide-open to inviting God into their lives.

Jesus always ran to crises. Turner was going to do the same.

He’d enrolled in seminary in 2004 at Regent University in Virginia, founded by evangelist Pat Robertson. And early in his spiritual journey, he was inspired by Christian writer John Eldredge, who suggests that American men have abandoned the stuff of heroic dreams, aided by a Christianity that tells them to be "nice guys."

God, says Eldredge, designed men to be daring, even dangerous.

Turner arrived in Iraq in May 2007 with the 1st Battalion, 30th Infantry Regiment amid a raging insurgency. His soldiers faced an invisible but lethal enemy in booby-trapped houses and roads laced with massive bombs.

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Chaplain Turner’s war would unfold on many fronts. He would be a soldier on the battlefield. A counselor behind closed doors. He was a friend, even a father, to his men.

And when his 15-month tour was over, Turner returned home to face all the problems he had counseled his soldiers about: anger, depression, stress and – most important for him – preserving relationships with loved ones.

Nearly 4,500 American troops died in the Iraq war. More than 30,000 more were physically wounded. Countless others live with scars that can't be seen, like post-traumatic stress syndrome and traumatic brain injury. Many have struggled with regaining their lives at home.

Darren Turner counsels a soldier inside a sleeping container at Patrol Base Hawkes, southeast of Baghdad.

Turner had recognized the needs his soldiers would have after witnessing the horrors of combat, after losing friends.

In Iraq, he had comforted and advised soldiers at Forward Operating Base Falcon, in southeastern Baghdad, and in the combat outposts around the villages of Arab Jabour.

Preparing clergy for war: How chaplains train for combat

At Falcon, the Army provided a morale phone that allowed soldiers to make free 15-minute calls home. But Turner knew it wasn't enough. He carried a cell phone in the left shoulder pocket of his uniform and whipped it out whenever a soldier signaled domestic distress at home.

"Call her," he would say. "Call her now and tell her you love her."

When they returned to Georgia in the summer of 2008, Turner told his soldiers that their families would be their cushion. He knew his men were suffering; that the ghosts of Iraq would haunt them, maybe for the rest of their lives.

What he did not know then was that he would not himself be immune to the same threats. He neglected to heed his own advice and his life floundered.

I’d spent many weeks with Turner in Iraq for a story in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution, but I didn't know about his troubles until I drove up to meet him and his wife, Heather, earlier this year at Fort Campbell, Kentucky.

An exhausted Darren Turner catches a nap at his desk inside his tent at Forward Operating Base Falcon near Baghdad.

On that rainy February day, Turner told me that he’d come back from Iraq and felt like the bomb defuser in the movie "The Hurt Locker," who goes into a grocery store and is overwhelmed by the mesmerizing variety of cereals.

Remembering the fallen: Learn about casualties

It was a lot to process after having few choices in Iraq. Reverse culture shock.

"I wanted everything in there but I wasn't sure what to buy," Turner said.

He also detected a lack of public concern for the men and women fighting overseas. Off post, people went about their lives without a real understanding of the sacrifices made by American service members.

At first the anger boiled inside. But then it began to surface. He took it out on Heather. It was a release so that he could keep his work as normal as possible.

Little things like arranging the dishwasher became big fights with Heather. Big things like Heather’s life plans became small issues that Turner mocked or discounted because they did not fit his own plans.

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"I came home angry," Turner told me. "Even my attitude, which I thought I was in control of, was walling me in. I didn't realize it until my wife told me, 'You're no longer welcome in our house.'"

During the deployment in Iraq, Turner had pined for Heather and his three young children, Elie, Sam and Meribeth. Now, he was losing them.

"The thing I was angry at was the very thing I was longing for during my deployment - my family," he said.

Heather said her husband was disengaged, impatient. She wanted them to seek counseling but Turner refused, insisting that she was the one who had issues.

Just a few months after his return from Iraq, Darren and Heather Turner separated.

“I was very selfish and tried to control my surroundings, which crushed those closest to me,” Turner said.

Turner eventually realized how much he had hurt his wife, he said. How he had stepped away from God's calling by failing those he cared about most.

After finishing Airborne School, he quit the Army in August 2009, believing the military would demand too much time away from his family at a critical juncture in their lives.

He took a job in sales at a Home Depot not far from his house in Dacula, Georgia. He struggled to mend his marriage and reconnect with his faith.

Four months later, Turner and his wife reconciled. He chose to return to the Army as a chaplain, he said, "a renewed man both in marriage and profession."

He and Heather found their calling. God, he said, gave them a special connection with soldiers and their families. They know they will stay busy for a while.

The U.S. mission in Iraq ended on December 18, 2011, as the last American soldiers climbed into hulking trucks and armored vehicles at Camp Adder, the southernmost base in Iraq.

The war, however, is sure to continue on a second front - in America's cities and homes. And in the offices of counselors and chaplains like Darren Turner.

Turner reminisces about Iraq often, and when I saw him at Fort Campbell, he told me he wrestled with mixed feelings on the day America's military presence ended. He hopes that, in the end, the war will have been worth the blood that was spilled.

Another war, the one in Afghanistan, is far from over, with casualties mounting every month. Today, Turner counsels soldiers serving there. His words, honed from experience, are more specific now.

Get Skype, he says.

Perhaps it's not what a soldier expects to hear from a man of God. It’s certainly not the stuff of Sunday sermons.

But it's practical advice that Turner knows will go a long way toward filling the emotional vacuum. He believes distance from one’s own family can trigger a breakdown, especially when a soldier is coping with injuries and combat stress.

"Being away from your family for that long is way more difficult than I anticipated," Turner said.

Skype, he discovered, is the next best thing to being at home. You can't feel someone or smell them but you can see and hear.

"That's two of the senses," he said. "That's exponential."

Turner’s pastoral passion is still driven by the force that first drew him to the chaplaincy: Jesus.

Everyone has faith in something, Turner said. His own conviction is that Jesus answers longings in the human heart and provides perspective. Beyond immediate emergencies, the larger story is one of hope.

“He's been there on the other side, and came back to tell us,” Turner said. “That's the biggest event in human history, something that maintains hope, even in battle. When soldiers get that, it changes everything.”

Turner said he may not have been God’s perfect messenger, but that his selfish choices do not negate God’s love.

Turner is thankful for that. And that he can carry on with his calling.

- Moni Basu

Filed under: Christianity • Military

soundoff (2,230 Responses)
  1. geogeo

    Last thing Christ wanted was to wage war. Everybody who does that in his name is Antichrist.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:31 am |
  2. yeap that's right

    Chaplains don't belong in the military..... period.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:31 am |
    • Adam

      That's such an incredibly sad point of view. I'll pray for you.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • seriously67

      How narrow minded!!!!! Chaplains are a big part of the military and a big part of military member's lives! You really need to get a clue before you post!

      May 27, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • RealityChecker

      Agreed. It's a waste of taxpayer money to have these uneducated hicks (and no, a Pat Robertson degree isn't a real one) loitering around and preying on our troops. Hire pschologists- you know, people who might actually know what they're talking about.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • Tammy

      WOW! I honestly fee the same way about women being in the military! btw, you do know that regardless if there is an ordained/sanctioned "chaplain" in the military, and regardless of your belief(s), God is EVERYWHERE, and where two or more gather in His name, so is church, you are aware of that, aren't you? Just b/c you can't hear, smell, touch, see or breathe God doesn't make Him non existent....

      May 27, 2012 at 10:52 am |
    • Ann

      I also have a hard time with clergy being put on the federal payroll. True, those troops who are religious should be able to practice their faith, but I don't like my tax dollars paying for it. Religious organizations should send over chaplains as volunteers, or pay them with church funds (fully taxed, of course).

      May 27, 2012 at 11:02 am |
    • AGuest9

      Absolutely, Ann!

      May 27, 2012 at 12:00 pm |
  3. nathan

    In Vietnam we were losing 200 troops a week; and in WW 2 we lost 500 a day.............this Chaplain has not seen war.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Kris

      Who are YOU to say what he's seen? Seen any common sense lately?

      May 27, 2012 at 10:35 am |
  4. geogeo

    Christ on a battlefield is like a pile of sh t on the dinner table.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • William

      Crude. Vulgar.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:38 am |
  5. Jablonski

    "The Army captain had learned that people in pain are often wide-open to inviting God into their lives."

    Christian ghouls... disgusting.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Kris

      You love to hate, don't you?

      May 27, 2012 at 10:41 am |
    • RealityChecker

      Kris- You should know about hate. That imaginary fairy you worship is full of it.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • drk

      My thoughts exactly, Jablonski. This is truly disturbing. Ambulance chasers.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:58 am |
  6. MSL58

    Hmmm...

    Which part of "separation of church and state" did he not undersatnd?

    May 27, 2012 at 10:27 am |
  7. William

    A lot of anti-Christian bigotry on here. Nice of Liberals to use a story like this to vent their spleen about Christians but not that religion that poisons and throws acid in girls faces, hangs gays, kills other religions and cuts off heads.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:26 am |
    • RealityChecker

      So William, what you're basically saying is "Don't pay attention to our atrocities and misdeeds, look over there instead. Another group is behaving even worse!"

      May 27, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Jablonski

      The article is about a Christian chaplain, not a Muslim one. Though that certainly would be interesting.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • William

      List the Christian atrosites? What 500 years ago? Lets deal with what is happening today and today Islam is killing all the people the Left loves yet they say nothing but vent on Christians? Thats called being a hypocrite you know.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • erks

      This guy want to Pat Robertson's seminary, so obviously he is going to have a foul and warped version of Christianity shoved into his head.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:54 am |
    • erks

      William, didn't they used to lynch people of color in large sections of the United States, well into the 1940-50's?. All the good white Christian men would gather around, and get a picture taken next to the corpse. Some would cut off body parts from the victim to keep as souvenirs. A simple Google will reveal thousands of such grisly pictures that people would send each other as post cards. search Have you forgotten your own recent history, or have you never learned it because you were busy drinking the cool-aid.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:59 am |
    • vulpecula

      @William
      Um, you must not be old enough to remember the Bosnia genocide of 1995. When the Christians came into the UN protected sight for the muslims and slaughtered over 8000 men and boys. There is more, but you would have to actually take your blinders off and look.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:34 pm |
    • texasmike

      Yeah like Christians never did any of those things did they? To which, a moron like you says, they don't do that anymore to which I say, you wouldn't know that from the rabid rightwingers who pollute these forums.

      May 27, 2012 at 5:42 pm |
  8. Rainer Braendlein

    Just to add one additional thought to my post- Society really has degraded to the point where we should consider removing the separation of church and state and declare the US to be a Christian nation.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:25 am |
    • Brian

      How would declaring the US a "Christian Nation" help anything?

      You might be able to compel behavior but you cannot compel belief. I do not believe a change in heart can come about as the result of coercion (be it explicit or implicit.)

      Also, why a Christian nation? Why not a Buddhist nation or a Hindu nation or Jewish nation or a Muslim nation?

      Do you believe Christians have a superior morality with regards non-Christians or are somehow more capable of restraint than non-Christians?

      May 27, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • vulpecula

      @Rainer Braendlein
      thats about as unAmerican as you can get.

      May 27, 2012 at 1:37 pm |
  9. Rainer Braendlein

    "who suggests that American men have abandoned the stuff of heroic dreams, aided by a Christianity that tells them to be 'nice guys.'" , Turner was inspired.

    This is a general problem of today that socalled Christians are mostly merely nominal Christians, and don't practice, what is preached to them.

    I guess, a great problem of our time is that our leaders have become totally secular (godless, profane). This is valid not only for Europe or the US, but for the whole world. Our current leaders are no more concerned about the happiness of their people (this would be there proper, core task), but merely interested in big tax revenue. They regard their peoples as cash cows, and live a life of luxury, which they finance by the tax revenues. These rulers are neither interested in Islam nor Christianity, but merely in their own material benefit and wealth. They sell all ethics for dollars.

    I guess, if no pious, powerful ruler (a kind of emperor) emerges, which makes us get rid of the egoistic, current rulers, Christ himself will return and exterminate them and cut them to pieces (the heavenly Christ is the only one, who has the right to do such a thing).

    Strictly speaking, there are no social developments, but merely decisions of the administrations or rulers. Everything depends on the will of some persons/individuals of the administration. If our current rulers would decide that our daily life should become more Christian, it would become more Christian, but they do the opposite. The media are contaminated with se-x and crime and blasphemy and superficial stupidity. This is the will of our current rulers, otherwise they would finish that.

    What I mean is that the current, godless societies nearly force the individual to be a nominal Christian. Everybody knows that it has become nearly impossible to live as a faithful Christian in our current societies. It has become so bad that one should ponder, if he goes to the wilderness like John the Baptist and lives as an ascetic.

    We live in a horrifying time.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • PantyRaid

      Horrifying time? Take a look at what you Christians did during The Crusades and Dark ages, then tell me about horrifying.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:29 am |
    • Kris

      Yeah go back thousands of years to prove your point. Cept it's on top of ye.r head.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:33 am |
    • Don'tBelieveTheLiesOfReligion

      We live in a WONDERFUL time! There is NO time any of us could experience that would be more so. This is our ONLY time. When we die, we cease to exist. Remember what is was like before you were born? Didn't think so...

      May 27, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • Rainer Braendlein

      @Dear PantyRaid

      You watched too much TV. The Crusades were chiefly caused by the bad Catholic popes of the Dark Age. A true Christian or Protestant would never promote crusades.

      The Roman Catholic Church is a completely distorted Christian Church, which does not act according to the will of Jesus Christ, but according to the will of Satan.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:35 am |
    • PantyRaid

      Typical Christian, rewriting history to fit your standards.

      It happened but but but...

      Listen to yourself man. I gave you a point and you make it sound like we should forget about it.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:46 am |
    • Ann

      Ri-ight, Rainer. That's why the pilgrims came to America, to be good Christians and get away from that evil pope.

      Oh, and to hang a few witches, as well.

      May 27, 2012 at 11:06 am |
  10. PantyRaid

    So what this guy is saying, is that Jesus said it's ok to kill people and still be christian?

    ok

    May 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • William

      Ecclesiastes 3:1-15. There is an appointed time for everything. And there is a time for every event under heaven ~A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to tear down, and a time to build up. A time to love, and a time to hate; A time for war, and a time for peace. The Christian religion separates defending ones self and outright murder.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:30 am |
    • Kris

      Can you read? And comprehend?

      May 27, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • PantyRaid

      Ohhh I see. Thanks for pointing out the part that explains why these stupid holy wars are continuing.

      You do realize every religion thinks THEY'RE right don't you? Why not leave things be and stop repeating history over and over with your stupid ideologies.

      Various forms of government for years have use religion to promote their agenda. Just take a look at the Taliban. Christians are manipulated into a holy war, when in reality, we're in Afghanistan to take their resources.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:36 am |
    • Tammy

      perhaps instead of attempting to explain God away and or attempting to make a Christian, whom I might add is a sinner as well, look unChristian or not Christ like, you should really read what the Bible says about war and killing.... here's a link for you just in case you need help.... http://www.gotquestions.org/war-Bible.html

      May 27, 2012 at 10:40 am |
    • Tammy

      Like any Christian should and probably will be doing for you PanyRaid, I'll pray for you and the ppl who lives you have touched in the past, the lives you're touching now, and any future lives you will touch.... no, really I will.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • PantyRaid

      Tammy, I know you will.

      It's extremely typical of your religion to use guilt as another method of control. They do it to you so much, that you don't even know you're doing it yourself.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:49 am |
  11. Are there really atheits? or just soulless people

    It's God's will to use our military to spread the one true faith.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:21 am |
    • PantyRaid

      Your BS is exactly why humans can't stop fighting wars.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:22 am |
    • realitypolice

      Nope. We're really just Atheists.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Are there: It is easy to dismiss your opinion as child-like when you can't even spell. You believe in something that no anatomy class will ever say exists. If what you're attempting to say is that your imaginary friend god wants people to kill, then your imaginary friend god is not such a wonderful thing and should not be worshiped or adhered to in any way. What your imaginary friend says is right is actually wrong and in the real world (the place where adults reside), causing another persons death is considered criminal. You need to seek help for your mental health issues!

      May 27, 2012 at 10:39 am |
    • Tammy

      @ TruthPrevail :-), I'll pray for you and the ppl who lives you have touched in the past, the lives you're touching now, and any future lives you will touch.... no, sincerely I will.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:45 am |
    • jim thane

      The above post is not mine...someone is just using the name i had earlier

      May 27, 2012 at 11:18 am |
  12. John Adams

    So, what is the difference between faith and being caught in the throes of a cult?

    May 27, 2012 at 10:17 am |
    • PantyRaid

      Cults admit to killing people. Christians promote it and then "turn thy cheek" that it ever happened.

      They like to write their own rules. Hypocrites.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • William

      Yet, MR. Panty makes not mention of Islams practice in 1012 of cutting off heads as an act of piety to their god. I guess if Christians did that today nobody would find them such an easy target for bigotry.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Adam

      Cults are religious or semi-religious groups whose members are controlled in almost every single respect by a single individual.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:32 am |
    • Kris

      Cults aren't religious. Just fanatics.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:37 am |
    • Ann

      There really is no difference. The major religions are just very successful and socially accepted cults.

      I went on a religious retreat weekend with some of my (Catholic) church friends in high school. They took our watches away as soon as we arrived, wouldn't tell us what the itinerary was, kept us guessing. They blindfolded us and made us do "trust" exercises (like falling backwards and letting others catch you). There were group discussions with a LOT of peer pressure to cry, pray, confess, "give your life to Jesus" and all that.

      Peer pressure is very effective on teenagers. By the end of the weekend, we were real holy rollers. For a time, I became a very annoying person, trying to "save" my friends and family. It embarrasses me to think of it.

      Fast forward a year or two, when I was in college. In a basic social psychology class, we were studying cults (the "Moonies" were big back then) and their use of "brainwashing" techniques. Much to my surprise, every little thing that had been done on that religious retreat was right there, explained as a textbook example of how cults use these methods to manipulate vulnerable minds.

      Right then, I became extremely angry with the Catholic church. How dare they manipulate me like that? And - most importantly - if they had anything REAL to offer, why did they have to resort to these unethical techniques?

      Next Lent – I gave up Catholicism.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • PantyRaid

      Good job Ann. I only wish all the other sheeple out there would wake up.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:51 am |
    • Ann

      It's hard to admit when you've been taken in, especially when so many others cling to the lie.

      May 27, 2012 at 11:08 am |
    • Jn

      Ann

      Have you ever thought people or groups can steal good ideas and use them for bad intentions? Your reasoning seams shallow to me. I’m not condoning your awkward religious retreat, but your view is based off a subjective and impressionable experience. Christianity simply offers an answer to the most pressing issue found at the root of the human race, i.e., how can one be fully accepted and at peace? It simply implies a person must acknowledge they're part of the problem and that spiritual brokenness has been paid by the One who claimed to be the Son of God. Naturalism and humanism will always do its best to solve real problems (and sometimes with great intentions) but like Pharaoh and his magicians during the Exodus, it can be motivated purely by denying the supernatural. However you like to dismiss the supernatural, the world was not invented by means of natural cause, because there is nothing natural about a that phenomenon. Just b/c there are radicals in religion as well as secular circles, shouldn't cause you to throw the baby out with the bath water. I apologize for the religious hypocrites, but the One who is not hypocritical, stands at the center of the Christian faith. He ate with sinners and tax collectors and also to wash the feet of his peer and most extraordinary, die for his enemy.

      May 27, 2012 at 5:50 pm |
  13. a1one

    The one guy I know who fought in Afghanistan came back with a messed up . He murdered his pregnant girlfriend and might get the death penalty. (google;Ahmad Rashad Siddiqi)

    May 27, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      That's horrible and we know the government is not doing enough. On average a soldier takes his/her life daily...one suicide is one too many.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:25 am |
  14. Darwi

    So prayers on the battlefield do not work and we need to smuggle illegal cellphones past the MPs?
    Why isn't this guy being court-martialed for violating defsec rules?
    Can he guarantee that those cellphones did not give away any position to enemy forces?
    Were they securitized? Come on, CNN! Check these things out! Break those stories!

    May 27, 2012 at 10:09 am |
    • Secret Squirrel

      "the Army provided a morale phone" did you miss that part?

      May 27, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • seriously67

      Cell Phones Illegal????? Since when???? I spent time in Iraq and as long as you could pay the bill....you could have your cell phone!!!!!

      May 27, 2012 at 10:28 am |
    • Darwi

      From the article:
      "At Falcon, the Army provided a morale phone that allowed soldiers to make free 15-minute calls home. But Turner knew it wasn't enough. He carried a cell phone in the left shoulder pocket of his uniform and whipped it out whenever a soldier signaled domestic distress at home."

      This implies he was doing it against orders, but it doesn't say one way or the other. I would just like it checked out, okay?
      Don't have a cow.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:44 am |
    • Ann

      I don't think he was disobeying orders with the cell phone – to me, it sounds like he was being very generous and offering extra free calls to soldiers in need (I would imagine those calls got expensive). I'm not religious, but I think that was a very kind thing for him to do.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:48 am |
    • Darwi

      Being kind is not what our soldiers are there for. They are there for force projection.
      And if he smugly thought it was okay to violate security protocols just because of his religious arrogance, he should be shot.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:53 am |
  15. Are there really atheits? or just soulless people

    Humans that are souless are evil. It is not murder to kill them, it is God's will.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • AGuest9

      Accusing others of evil and referring to murdering them? Shouldn't you be in church right now? It seems about your speed.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:07 am |
    • Emmaleah

      I'm pretty sure, even though I'm atheist, that's not in the Bible.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Dennis

      Where did that come from? I know it didn't come from the Bible. Thou shalt not murder. It doesn't say that it's okay to murder souless people. You are spewing garbage. And the questions I have for you are, "Who determines who has a soul and who doesn't? If it is you, who made you judge and jury?"

      May 27, 2012 at 10:12 am |
    • gager

      So, you think you know god. Get yourself some help before you are sent to oblivion.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:16 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      @Are there really atheits? or just soulless people: First off, What is an 'atheit'? Second, Everyone is without a soul since science has no way of providing evidence of one existing. Third, What would you do without the buybull to guide you? Would you go around murdering/killing? Murder defined is The unlawful killing of another human being without justification or excuse. Killing defined is To cause death or extinction; be fatal/To commit murder. Thus murder and killing are one in the same (you can't change the definition to suit your delusions and in a court of law they are both the same)

      May 27, 2012 at 10:23 am |
    • vidal808

      What a moron you are... God is not telling to kill anyone....you are reading the wrong book. God is within you and within everything that is consious or unconsious. He is he life force that keeps your heart beating and the Universe balanced. You need to understand that Religions are perverting the process that creation and life is teaching. That is why we have wars and people kill people – because of not understanding.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:43 am |
    • jim thane

      Jen the above post is not mine.....anyone can put crap in the name section

      May 27, 2012 at 11:17 am |
  16. Patricia

    The ideological background that this guy comes from was bound to cause him problems. This writer John Eldredge, from whom he said he drew inspiration, seems to have a very bizarre view of Christianity. Eldredge's theory that American men "have abandoned the stuff of heroic dreams," that Christianity does not tell them to be "nice guys," and that their creator designed them to be "daring, even dangerous," seems to be a strained and twisted attempt to marry a religion supposedly based on the teachings of Jesus with a form of secular ego-based machoism.
    These crazy ramblings about Christianity are nothing new from the Pat Robertson camp, but taking them seriously and then having a combat experience in the military is bound to take its toll on the man himself and on his family. Elkridge's nutty theory is guaranteed to result in any guy who believes it thinking that he is always both right and righteous, and that the thoughts of other people, particularly women, are unimportant. It's a cheap justification for being an authoritarian. Obviously, it will jeopardize a guy's personal relationships because the ones he professes to love will find his behavior intolerable soon enough. I'm glad this guy became introspective enough to accept that his behavior was hurting his wife and kids and was able to win his family back.
    The perception that the public is not concerned with the troops is a separate, but very major problem. Distrust of the politicians who started these wars, together with the perception that these politicians lied and connived to do so, unfortunately affects the level of public concern for the people actually over there. Having an all-volunteer military also affects public perception. A few years ago, during the great "surge" in Iraq, I made a comment to a coworker, a self-described conservative who voted Republican, that we would need to do much more to care for veterans. Her reply was that they volunteered and knew what they were getting into. Many people seem to believe that the all-volunteer military is just "hired help."

    May 27, 2012 at 10:03 am |
    • Jn

      Patricia

      “…and that the thoughts of other people, particularly women, are unimportant.”

      Read his book first before you begin making assumptions. One man’s life doesn’t always reflect another man’s writings.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:11 am |
    • Congregation for The Doctrine of Deceit

      and people hiring see no experience in military training or service. i think they all assume you lay in bed till its time to go kill someone.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:41 am |
  17. Trevor

    Excellent article. It is great to read about someone who is committed to his faith, country and his wife and family.

    May 27, 2012 at 10:00 am |
  18. justanotherguy60

    Even though I have personally known one person coming back from war, being Afghanistan, was enough to tell me "war is hell." He told me about a year later, that even a backfire from a car makes him jump out of his bed to see what that was. He is very spiritual and believes in a divine being. My father fought during WWII, and he and my two uncles didn't talk too much about their experiences, but were more fortunate. But those that came back during that era did suffer for what was once call "shell shock."
    PTSD affects soldiers in different ways, and chaplains are there to comfort those that have demons. And yes, even chaplains can suffer the same affects as described in the article. I hope that this chaplain will find peace in his mind as time goes on and he will continue to get the help he needs. It's easy for people who have never gone to war to slam Christianity, and other religions, just to make themselves look so self righteous. It is time to be more sympathetic for those that have seen the horrors of war that does boggle the mind.

    May 27, 2012 at 9:46 am |
    • Karen

      Interesting what you wrote about your father and two uncles not talking much about their WWII experiences. My grandfather also was in WWII–in the Navy–and when he returned, he rarely (if ever) mentioned what he saw and experienced.

      May 27, 2012 at 9:59 am |
    • Dennis

      I absolutely agree. As a mental health provider and a Christian I can tell you that you have to address people needs: physical, mental, and spiritual. Being in battle will lead to spiritual issues. Unfortunately, not all of these issues are dealt with appropriately.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:01 am |
  19. Ann

    " The Army captain had learned that people in pain are often wide-open to inviting God into their lives."

    Wow, nothing like taking advantage of people and manipulating them when they're at their most vulnerable! What a vulture.

    May 27, 2012 at 9:43 am |
    • justanotherguy60

      You need to be in that soldier's place, it will change your mind quickly. Self righteousness will never win the hearts of people that hurt the most.

      May 27, 2012 at 9:57 am |
    • Dennis

      The whole gist of Christianity is that Jesus did not require us to get it together and then come to God. Many people turn to God during desperate times, whether it is during war or hard economic times. That is not a vulture. He is not waiting there to devour but to help. That is not taking advantage of them but them taking advantage of the help that is offered. It's all about a relationship between us and Christ.

      May 27, 2012 at 9:58 am |
    • Ann

      Many cults do their best recruiting by targeting young people in the middle of a confused time in their lives. What better place then a battlefield? Lots of young people there, starting out their adult lives, trying to "find themselves" – throw in a life or death threat, and they're easy pickin's. Add some peer pressure, and you're all set.

      And those guys look absolutely ridiculous standing in that bathtub.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:24 am |
    • Jn

      “Wow, nothing like taking advantage of people and manipulating them when they're at their most vulnerable! What a vulture.”

      What’s the alternative, to tell them God doesn’t exist? Without God what’s the solution to pain and suffering? I realize the general consensus in reading these articles would hold religion (God) accountable for wars, but in the 20th century, more wars and bloodshed was caused by communism (Atheism), e.g. Mao (China), Stalin (Russia), Hitler (Germany). Point being, people can talk about war, violence and suffering, but what’s their solution apart from a moral being that has intrinsically placed good in every person? I find man responsible for the chaos and choosing defiance over the belief in a deity. Subsequently, God in our culture has been placed on trial.

      May 27, 2012 at 10:34 am |
    • Ann

      "Without God, what's the solution to pain and suffering?"

      Um, medical care, psychological care, education ...

      May 27, 2012 at 10:58 am |
    • Jn

      With all due respect, it’s not that black and white. The world is very complex and human ingenuity is not answering root issues. To a certain extent your response deals with the symptom, but not the solution.

      May 27, 2012 at 5:04 pm |
  20. Nii

    let me guess? An ex Jehovah Witness now turned Atheist. That's so funny. If God did not want us to kill then who was to enforce the death penalty of the commandments of the Law. The commandment says,"Thou shalt do no murder". not Thou shalt not kill.

    May 27, 2012 at 9:41 am |
    • TruthPrevails :-)

      Listen Moron...this is not your fvcking war, so shut the fvck up!!! The only laws that matter are the laws of the land, not the laws of the buybull!! My country has fought alongside the USA in this war and we do so gladly, your country on the other hand has been completely useless to this war effort!! You imaginary friend has no place in this, so please keep your biased opinion on such a subject to yourself.

      May 27, 2012 at 9:56 am |
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The CNN Belief Blog covers the faith angles of the day's biggest stories, from breaking news to politics to entertainment, fostering a global conversation about the role of religion and belief in readers' lives. It's edited by CNN's Daniel Burke with contributions from Eric Marrapodi and CNN's worldwide news gathering team.