MASSILLON – Reverend Les Peine has tried to retire, but God continues to find things for him to do.
Starting October 20, Peine will present “Soul Talk”, a faith-based support group for veterans. The group will meet for 12 weeks from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at the Serving Area Veterans (SAM) Center at 413 Lincoln Way E.
The goal of the 12-step program is to help veterans struggling with PTSD, drug addiction and other issues see themselves through the lens of Bible teaching and recover, Peine said.
“God gave me this,” he said.
The retired Air Force chaplain is also the pastor of Epworth United Methodist Church, a chair he has held for six years since his retirement from full-time ministry. He is also chaplain of the MAPS Museum in Green and the SAM Center.
Epworth UMC is a registered congregation for veterans and military personnel.
Reverend Les Peine on helping others in the military
“I had the call to the ministry before joining the air force,” he said.
Peine joined the Air Force during the Vietnam War. At the time, he was enlisted in the Peace Corps on his way to Sierra Leone when he received his summons.
Peine was in training to become a pilot when she was diagnosed with vertigo. He became a communications officer, serving on the east coast.
“I had to deal with 65 enlisted people,” he recalls. “You weren’t supposed to be fraternizing, but I did.
Peine soon found himself caring for people, including a man who suffered from alcoholism. The problem became so serious that the airman threatened to kill himself.
He arranged for the airman to be hospitalized, but there was little understanding within the system.
“A psychiatrist at the hospital said, ‘Let him go, he’s drunk,’ Peine recalls.
In 1972, Peine considered leaving active service to enter the seminary when his commanding officer suggested that he become a chaplain.
“The whole time I’ve dealt with people suffering from PTSD, but it wasn’t called that at the time,” he said. “I have faced a lot of suicides.
Statistics show that an average of 22 veterans kill themselves every day.
How Soul Talk Can Help Veterans
Peine said Soul Talk would be based on Neil T. Anderson’s book, “Victory Over Darkness”.
He will be assisted by Jim Miller, a veteran with PTSD, and Sue Simmons, who oversees Caring Hearts, a support group for spouses and families that meets the second and fourth Wednesday of each month.
Each session, said Peine, will begin with the recitation of the 23rd Psalm.
“David who wrote it, faced death when he was anointed to be king to replace Saul,” he noted. “I thought this would speak to a lot of people.”
Each session will include John Wesley’s famous question: “How’s it going with your soul?”
“It’s a much deeper question than ‘How are you? “, Said Peine.
The founding father of Methodism, Wesley is credited with establishing small group meetings outside of the church.
“As John Wesley taught, either we grow in grace or we decline,” said Peine. “So our responses to ‘How is your soul? Should aim beyond a current state or feeling, but how we are progressing in shaping our salvation. “
Peine said “Soul Talk” will also include a “wheel of wisdom” during the talks.
“It will take a while for them to open up,” Peine said. “If that is successful, I have a follow-up session for 12 weeks, ‘The Bondage Breakers,’ which is also written by Neil Anderson.”
Peine said the Veterans Administration does a good job, but admits it’s also frustrated with bureaucracy when it comes to helping people with PTSD and addiction.
Veterans, he said, are a unique group of Americans. Less than 2% of Americans served in the military.
“You raise your hand and take an oath to the Constitution of the United States,” he said. “You never know when you’re going to be called (deployed). It’s a commitment to do whatever you’re called to do.”
For more information, contact Peine at Epworth Church at 330-832-7271, the SAM Center at 330-956-6162, or email [email protected]
Contact Charita at 330-580-8313 or [email protected]
On Twitter: @cgoshayREP