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Mortars and Miracles: Faith-Filled Stories of Mormons in the Military

by | Jul. 04, 2018

Mormon Life


Moving Forward with Faith

The great service these soldiers do doesn’t stop when they come home, though. If anything, it accelerates. Although it’s often difficult to reintegrate into family and society life after being gone for so long and experiencing so many traumatic events, each of these veterans also finds the many ways in which their experiences can help them do good.

Since returning home, Howard Bradshaw, who had served a mission prior to being drafted into the Army and had so much missionary success in Korea, served three more missions with his wife. His experiences in Korea undoubtedly prepared him to continue in his Church service, and his wife calls his time there “his paid mission.”

Rachael Neff continued to serve in the military. After being selected for the Eisenhower Leadership Development Program, for which only 20–25 officers are selected each year out of the entire Army, she was hired as a tactical officer at West Point. “I believe that there are, even in our darkest times, ways that our Heavenly Father directs us on the path that is best for us, even if at the time we don’t see that as the path we thought it was going to be,” she says. “I know I have been blessed because of my military service and that my family has been blessed for it.” 

For some, though, the transition back to the U.S. wasn’t easy at all. Larry Chesley was released on February 12, 1973, seven years and three months after he bid farewell to his family. But even after returning home, he had more challenges to overcome: his wife, thinking him dead, had remarried while he was gone, and he had to figure out how to handle what that meant for him and their two children. “All the time I was away, I prayed that God would take care of my family for me, and it doesn’t seem as if he has,” he thought. However, he has overcome all the challenges placed in his path to become a stalwart standard of faith. He later became a state senator in Arizona, and he and his current wife completed four missions for the Church. He has also authored a book about his experiences as a POW, Seven Years in Hanoi.

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Larry Chesley today.

Like many other soldiers, Warren Price suffered severe posttraumatic stress. But, gradually, he was able to find help and rehabilitation, both for himself and his family. Price pursued a master’s in recreation therapy, focusing on how it can help veterans with PTSD, and started an organization called Freedom’s Families, which takes families on week-long retreats to help them recover and grow together through recreation. “It saved my life and it’s saving my family,” he says. Now, “It’s my mission and my kids’ mission and my wife’s mission to save as many families as we can.”

And despite all the struggles he has faced and continues to face, Price is grateful for them because of the good that has come from them. “The experience shook me to my very foundation, and it shook my faith, but coming through it, it’s really strengthened my relationship with God and my understanding of our purpose here on the earth.”

In the words of Kent Blad, an Army nurse in Saudi Arabia during Desert Storm, “You wouldn’t give two cents to do it again, but you wouldn’t give a million dollars to replace it.”

See a photo gallery of Latter-day Saints in the Military Through History.

The above story was originally published in LDS Living in 2013.
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