Wing Chaplain, Lt. Col, Bob Tilli, Jr., Stewart Air National Guard Base, Intern in Chaplaincy Residency Program, VANYHHS and USAF Veteran Justice Winfield
Wednesday, October 3, 2012
Chaplains are always looking for ways to reach out to Veterans and their families. Over the summer, along with visits to the clinics, Emergency Rooms, and other sections of the hospital, chaplains at VA New York Harbor Healthcare System found an area that is great for connecting with Veterans - the lobby. Whether a Veteran is waiting for a prescription or an appointment, it’s a place where connections are naturally made. This story has been contributed by Wing Chaplain, Lt. Col, Bob Tilli, Jr., Stewart Air National Guard Base, Intern in Chaplaincy Residency Program, VANYHHS.
Every Veteran that I’ve spoken with has a story to tell that shows their pride in serving their country and often a wound to share. As I’ve had the opportunity to meet more and more Veterans in the lobby, I’ve had more and more conversations. It’s become a place where several of us can sit together and talk about programs that help Veterans, not only with their spiritual and emotional needs, but practical needs like suggesting support groups and spirituality groups that are here at the VA. We also tell them about chapel services and the availability of Chaplains.
There have been several occasions when some Veterans have gotten upset with one another and along with security, I’ve had the opportunity to come alongside them and help calm them down. Many times, we just find a quiet spot and sit and talk about what is really bothering them. It’s often regrets about the past. We then talk about their spiritual resources that can help them move forward. It’s been amazing to watch so many Veterans opening up.
It doesn’t stop there. I’ve had the opportunity to meet our fine security and police teams, those who work in the information booth and other staff who are in an out of the lobby.
As the expression goes, “People don’t care how much you know until they know how much you care.” This is our opportunity as VA chaplains, residents, and interns to reach out and be a compassionate connection to our Veterans.