U.S. soldiers go into battle armed with the latest technology and training. The American Bible Society (ABS), however, provides them with their greatest asset in fulfilling their duties to their nation: God's Word.
On its website, the nonprofit organization says the Bible offers "peace and eternal hope" to the men and women of the United States Armed Forces as they deploy on foreign combat missions that are fraught with dangers.
"The Bible can offer troops hope during times of peril and the peace of God when they are surrounded with chaos," ABS quoted one Army chaplain as saying.
Another chaplain for the Explosive Ordnance Disposal Battalion concurred, saying soldiers in his battalion have a very high stress mission being the "bomb squad" of the Army. "One wrong move can end their lives," he said, adding that "resources that answer questions of mortality are vital."
Aside from the sense of security it provides to soldiers in combat missions, the Bible also offers hope to war veterans who return home physically and emotionally wounded, thus helping them rebuild their lives, ABS says.
According to Live Science, veterans face multiple health problems after leaving the battlefield.
"Folks returning from combat have a constellation of health concerns, including physical issues, psychological issues and psychosocial issues concerning things like work and family," said Dr. Stephen Hunt, national director of the U.S. Department of Veterans Affairs Post Deployment Integrative Care Initiative.
One veteran who struggled with depression said the Bible helped him overcome his despair. "My attitude about life in general has improved. I'm reading the Bible almost daily now. I feel more alive!" he told ABS.
Another veteran testified that after suffering for over 45 years, "God's Word has opened my eyes to a new life."
The Bibles that ABS provides the military have also led to the conversion of previously non-Christian members of the U.S. armed forces. One Army chaplain said after they distributed one shipment of Bibles recently, 44 soldiers accepted Jesus Christ.
ABS says it also reaches out to the children and families of American military personnel. With the U.S. having more than 1.3 million active duty soldiers and some 23 million veterans, plus their families, the organization says the need for their assistance is vast.
However, despite the benefits the Bible offers to U.S. servicemen and veterans, some secular groups have opposed the presence of Bibles in U.S. military bases.
In August last year, CP reported that the Military Religious Freedom Foundation (MRFF) demanded that an Air Force major be "aggressively punished" for placing an open Bible on his desk at the Peterson Air Force Base in Colorado Springs, Colo., claiming that it violated the separation of church and state.
The Bible was subsequently removed from the officer's desk, and Peterson officials began investigating whether allowing the officer to place the Bible on his desk was a reasonable accommodation of his religious beliefs.
The MRFF has made numerous complaints against religious displays in the U.S. military. Also in August last year, it demanded that the Department of Defense investigate several Christian military chaplains for appearing in uniform while praying publicly at an event promoting religious freedom.
However, Chaplain Alliance executive director Ron Crews told CP in an interview that the MRFF's complaint "had no legal basis."
"A military chaplain has every right to appear in uniform at an event to honor a member of Congress, not to mention a member of the House Armed Services Committee," Crews said.