Image: 2019 Operation Heal Our Patriots Season

Strengthening Military Marriages

Our ninth summer season of Operation Heal Our Patriots began July 5, 2020, as we welcomed the first planeloads of wounded veterans and their spouses to Samaritan Lodge Alaska. Please pray as military couples receive marriage enrichment and also find freedom in Christ.

July 4 weekend marked the exciting start of our ninth season of Operation Heal Our Patriots at Samaritan Lodge Alaska. We anticipate welcoming up to eight U.S. military couples each week until September 11 for a time of relationship building, spiritual refreshment, and physical renewal.

These heroes have made tremendous sacrifices for our nation, and I am grateful to God that they are experiencing true freedom through the power of the Gospel.”
- Franklin Graham

“Week after week, I see men and women learn about God’s love for them. These heroes have made tremendous sacrifices for our nation, and I am grateful to God that they are experiencing true freedom through the power of the Gospel,” said Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham about this project.

Samaritan’s Purse started Operation Heal Our Patriots in 2012 to strengthen the marriages of military personnel wounded in combat or combat-related activities after 9/11. Couples are flown to our wilderness lodge in Alaska where they participate in marriage classes, enjoy daily devotions from God’s Word, and are offered Christ-focused counseling with veteran military chaplains. They also have opportunities for physical refreshment by participating together in activities such as kayaking, hiking, fishing, and wildlife viewing.

Over the years, we have welcomed more than 1,100 military couples to our Alaska camp. We praise God that 473 individuals have made commitments to Jesus Christ, close to 600 have been baptized, and about half of all participating couples have publicly rededicated their marriages to the Lord during their time in Alaska.

Army Staff Sergeant Art De La Garza and his wife Diana both found greater freedom in Jesus Christ last summer when they participated in Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Army Staff Sergeant Art De La Garza and his wife Diana

The couple arrived in Alaska considering divorce and feared that their marriage would continue to unravel. Yet, as they learned how to communicate in a deeper way, and grew in their relationship with God, their attitudes began to change. They renewed their wedding vows and were also baptized in Lake Clark.

“Diana and I were miles apart, but now we are closer than we’ve ever been,” Art said. “Jesus brought us together.”

The experience in Alaska is just the beginning of our ministry to military couples. Samaritan’s Purse chaplains follow up with them over the long term through our aftercare program. Our staff connects couples with local churches, engages families through regular personal contact (phone calls, emails, social media, visits), offers discipleship opportunities, and meets with them at regional get-togethers.

Operation Heal Our Patriots reunions and training events also benefit couples by providing more Christian teaching and tools to fortify their marriage. Many of the participants have also developed deep relationships with one another and support each other directly in a variety of ways.

Additionally, our new Team Patriot program gives our military couples the opportunity to deploy with each other to communities hard-hit by natural disasters. Army Specialist Eric Marcengill and his wife Rachel served on the first ever Team Patriot deployment, which took them to southeastern Texas to help rebuild homes damaged or destroyed by Hurricane Harvey.

Army Specialist Eric Marcengill and his wife Rachel

“Meeting the homeowners, you get to see the impact you’re having. Now, you’re not just serving your country, you’re also serving God,” Eric said.

Please pray that military marriages will be restored this summer and that many will grow in their relationship with Jesus Christ. Pray for strength and wisdom for our staff as they minister to couples in Alaska and beyond during 2020, a year which has presented unique challenges.

“Now the Lord is the Spirit; and where the Spirit of the Lord is, there is liberty” (2 Corinthians 3:17).

Please note that, in all aspects of this project, Samaritan’s Purse staff members are taking added precautions to help protect everyone’s health and to prevent the spread of COVID-19.

Photo Gallery

1/11 Staff and local volunteers work hard to set up the Emergency Field Hospital in Central Park.
Staff and local volunteers work hard to set up the Emergency Field Hospital in Central Park.
1/11 Trucks arriving in New York City with the 68-bed respiratory care unit.
Trucks arriving in New York City with the 68-bed respiratory care unit.
1/11 A nurse has Bible verses written on tape on her personal protective equipment.
A nurse has Bible verses written on tape on her personal protective equipment.
2/11 Doctors and nurses take time to pray together for their patients in the field hospital.
Doctors and nurses take time to pray together for their patients in the field hospital.
3/11 Many elderly patients end up on ventilators, which have been in short supply since the coronavirus pandemic became so widespread.
Many elderly patients end up on ventilators, which have been in short supply since the coronavirus pandemic became so widespread.
5/11 Samaritan's Purse receives the first COVID-19 patient in the Emergency Field Hospital set up in the Cremona Hospital parking lot.
Samaritan's Purse receives the first COVID-19 patient in the Emergency Field Hospital set up in the Cremona Hospital parking lot.
6/11 Local officials and Samaritan's Purse staff join in a dedication ceremony.
Local officials and Samaritan's Purse staff join in a dedication ceremony.
7/11 The respiratory unit is set up in the Cremona Hospital parking lot to care for an overflow of patients sickened with COVID-19.
The respiratory unit is set up in the Cremona Hospital parking lot to care for an overflow of patients sickened with COVID-19.
9/11 Samaritan's Purse staff work hard to prepare the Emergency Field Hospital as quickly as possible.
Samaritan's Purse staff work hard to prepare the Emergency Field Hospital as quickly as possible.
10/11 Our DC-8 aircraft transported 20 tons of medical equipment and a respiratory care unit as well as disaster relief specialists, doctors, and nurses.
Our DC-8 aircraft transported 20 tons of medical equipment and a respiratory care unit as well as disaster relief specialists, doctors, and nurses.
11/11 Medical supplies aboard the Samaritan's Purse DC-8 were airlifted to the coronavirus epicenter in northern Italy.
Medical supplies aboard the Samaritan's Purse DC-8 were airlifted to the coronavirus epicenter in northern Italy.
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