A Community of Support

A Community of Support

Joey’s and my first real date was scheduled for September 11th, 2001. Ever the romantics, we planned an afternoon that included Slurpees from 7-11 and playing Frisbee. Even from the very beginning, I knew this relationship had potential and was excited to look back at this silly first date in years to come. Instead, we remember a somber walk along the Gig Harbor waterfront on September 13th, holding the tension of an unknown future for both our relationship and our country. 

At the time, Joey was also known as Airman Hawkins. Being connected to the military has always been a part of our relationship. In those early years, we weathered deployments and a service-connected injury. Since Joey left the Air Force, we have benefited from the GI Bill and a job related to his time of service. We have seen the trials and triumphs of being a military family. And I have to tell you, it hasn’t always been easy. 

When I look back on what helped us both survive difficult and uncertain times, I can clearly point to a strong community of support through our church. During Joey’s deployments, friends let me cry on the couch and helped me not worry about where he might be. After his two neck surgeries, our church in Texas helped us with meals and support. We know our story could have ended differently if we had leaned into the uncertainty instead of our faith community. 

There are a lot of Veterans out there who don’t have a community surrounding them. In many scenarios, these veterans struggle to navigate post-military life. We hear a lot about issues like homelessness, suicide, addiction, and lack of access to services, housing and education. We could add to this list a poverty of relationship.  Chapel Hill sits geographically in the gap between a joint Army-Air Force base and a Naval base, and I know that our church loves our military servicemen and women and their families, and cares deeply about veterans.  This weekend, as we honor those who have served our country through military service, I want to challenge our church to step further into that gap and be community to our veterans. Through the work of The Rescue Mission, we can come alongside veterans who are hurting and lonely. If you want more information or to know about an upcoming event with the Mission, please email me. Let’s rise up and be the Church.

Julie Hawkins
Director of Missions