Interdisciplinary Journal of Research on ReligionInstitute for Studies of Relgion
IJRR :: 2012 Volume 8 :: Article 10
2012 Volume 8, Article 10
God, Guts, and Glory: An Investigation of Relational Support Mechanisms for War Veterans Provided by Religious Communities

Author: Terry Shoemaker (Western Kentucky University)

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This article explores the mechanisms of congregational support provided by American churches to a sample of Christian soldiers who have been deployed into combat zones. I conducted qualitative interviews with six Christian soldiers to discover the congregational support provided by their faith communities. Additionally, one soldier who identified as atheist was interviewed. Through these interview sessions, three main mechanisms of relational support were discovered: the creation of divine associations of symbols and rhetoric, a hagiographic resource to mimic, and mutually beneficial protective services. In this article, I situate the research within previous scholarship pertaining to the relationship between religiosity and well-being, and I examine the mechanisms of support to evaluate the role of religious resources provided by faith communities in reintegrating combat soldiers into American society and legitimating military action. The Christian soldiers who were interviewed for this study consistently noted the importance of their faith communities during and after their deployment for their subjective well-being. The analysis suggests that with a high volume of soldiers returning from combat duty, religious organizations could prove vital in the soldiers' reintegration.

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