Pastor Laura Olson has an older congregation with many vets including a Bataan Death March survivor.
The congregation has gifts for ministry to veterans and she suggested they could serve a meal at the monthly Forum meeting. If the Forum organization does not have a group lined up to provide a meal they purchase pizza or something else. They feed from 75-150 veteran defendants, veteran mentors, guests, and family members monthly.
One month they had a Lutheran Church Missouri Synod congregation come with 15-25 people and serve a Potato Bar. They used Thrivent funds. In any case she told her folks and they wanted to serve also. Now they have twice served a Taco Bar (two separate years). They insisted on frying the corn tortillas themselves.
After watching this for awhile she was amazed at what happens when civilians bring a home cooked meal to a gathering of veterans, in this case veteran defendants (primarily recent and Vietnam era combat veterans). It is transformational for both groups.
These type of face-to-face encounters of service are happening across the nation. Simple in concept and low in cost, yet high impact on veteran support, these events support the ELCA motto of service, “God’s Work, Our Hands” not just one special day of the year, but a holy habit all year round.