So many men and women in Tayside Christian Fellowship dedicate their time and skills throughout a variety of community projects during the week. That is certainly the case for our Philip Paterson who has been instrumental in the last couple of years, along with like-minded people, setting up a new initiative in Scotland that is hard to believe did not already exist. Philip sets the scene for us and brings us right up to date:
Veterans Chaplaincy Scotland (VCS) exists to bring pastoral care to the veterans’ community of Scotland. Throughout the history of soldiering there has always been a Christian witness among our service personnel. Since 1796 everywhere our forces have gone there has been an organised Christian chaplaincy that has travelled with them. At peace and at war Navy, Army and Air force chaplains have supported our service men and women at home and abroad.
Veterans Chaplaincy has been started by a group of ex-forces chaplains who believe that this in service support and its Christian witness should be continued after our soldiers, sailors and air force personnel leave the services. While other forms of support are continued for veterans, as part of our nation’s military covenant, chaplaincy is not … until now.
Veterans Chaplaincy Scotland (VCS) is an initiative of Work Place Chaplaincy Scotland (WPCS). WPCS has been providing a chaplaincy service to the work places of Scotland for over 10 years. This includes providing chaplaincy to business and retail, banking, airports and to the Scottish Fire and Rescue service. At VCS we have the benefit of working within an established organisation, sharing resources and expertise, in order to provide a specialist chaplaincy service to the veterans’ community.
Chaplains who ‘speak the language’
Service men and women are often exposed to stressful circumstances during the course of their service. These stresses may produce a unique set of symptoms (psychological, physical and emotional) with which many service veterans struggle. Veterans Chaplaincy provides chaplains who are able to speak the ‘language’ of veterans and relate to these specific circumstances in a way that other agencies cannot. In this way Veterans Chaplaincy provides a valuable link between veterans, our churches and our communities, enabling veterans to engage with the support they need, and bring their own gifts and experiences to life.
At veterans chaplaincy our chaplains are trained in pastoral care, bereavement support, spiritual leadership, post trauma healing, trauma risk management, suicide prevention, mental health awareness and moral injury support. We recognise that human beings are made of body mind and spirit, and that the issues that trouble us affect us physically, mentally and spiritually. In this day and age, there is a much needed conversation around issues of mental Health, while little is spoken of our spiritual health. Veterans Chaplaincy recognises that we are whole people and seeks to provide that specific spiritual care that is often missing from other forms of support.
Operating now and planning expansion
Currently, Veterans Chaplaincy Scotland is providing its services through Poppy Scotland, Age Scotland the Unforgotten Forces Project, Street Pastors Scotland, Scotland’s Bravest Manufacturing Company, and Perth City Centre Community Hub. We aim to recruit a further 10 chaplains this year to meet a growing demand for the service, and we continue to pray that this work will grow to a point where every veteran family in Scotland (around 500,000 folk) has access to chaplaincy.
Veterans Chaplaincy is supported by the Veterans Foundation, the Armed Forces Covenant Trust, and the RAF Benevolent Fund.
Through our Friends of Veterans Chaplaincy Scotland group (FOVCS) we seek those who will support our work financially, professionally and prayerfully. We would ask that you remember our veterans and pray for the growing work of Veterans Chaplaincy.
How can you get involved?
Should you wish to support VCS, receive the prayer letter and updates, or join Friends of VCS (FOVCS), please get in contact with Philip or Stephen.