A Day to Remember

By Marty McCarty, vice president of Young Life Military

The day is Nov. 11, 1918. The photo* shows American Soldiers of the 353rd Infantry Regiment standing next to a church at Stenay, Meuse, in France — two minutes before the end of fighting in World War I. Can you imagine their feelings in this moment? The anticipation? The relief? This would be a day to remember. Seven months later, the Treaty of Versailles would end the war. Peace had been won at great cost to America and her allies, and hopes were high it would endure. “The war to end all wars” was finally over.

Four million Americans wore the uniform in World War I and 110,000 paid the ultimate price for peace. Within a quarter century, another 16 million Americans would don the uniform for World War II and another 400,000 would give their all. These force sizes were 4 percent and 11 percent of the American populations at the time. A little more than 1.4 million are serving in active duty today, which is less than 1 percent of our current population. Today’s burden has fallen on a very few.

In February 2014, the Congressional Research Service reported that 400,000 United States Military members have been diagnosed with either Post-Traumatic Stress Disorder (PTSD) or Traumatic Brain Injury (TBI) since 2001. Unlike the casualties of World War II, these 400,000 warriors made it home from combat — but they will never be the same. In the “World Wars,” forces went off to war and returned when the war was over. Since 9/11, our forces have gone to war again and again … and again … as they have engaged in the longest period of sustained combat operations in the history of our nation.

Young Life Military–Club Beyond reaches out to the teen-aged children of America’s heroes. American military members and their families need to be resilient, which the military fosters. The unique upbringing of military teens gives them great potential to become future leaders and world-changers. However, the stress of military life does place military teens at higher risk than their civilian peers. Many military teens have lost a parent in combat, but many more have suffered the loss of the mom or dad they used to know; often, a very different person comes home from deployment than the one who left.

Young Life Military–Club Beyond staff and volunteer leaders come alongside military teens in the same way all Young Life leaders do with their kids. There are 300,000 military teens living at or near United States military installations all over the world, who have unique needs and opportunities. We bring the simple message of Jesus to military teens in their unique cultural context through more than 1,000 staff and volunteer leaders serving at nearly 50 bases in 10 countries on three continents.

Today, please view the three-minute video about “Becca” to better understand our military’s teens. Tomorrow, on Veterans Day, please thank veterans for their service. And in the days that follow, please pray for Young Life Military as we minister to military teens “in the trenches” — not those of World War I, but today’s trenches that many teens find just as deep and muddied. Pray for us as we share the love of Christ and pray the Lord will lift up our military teens who may feel stuck in the “muck and mire.” Thank you!

*Historical facts and photograph from the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs website. ​​​​​