Brenda Anthony Shealy knows what it's like to serve your country and the sacrifices it entails. She has been separated from family and experienced secondary post-traumatic stress disorder.
Shealy, formerly of Roaring Spring and the Orr Hill area, was known as Brenda Foor when she was growing up and attending Leamersville Grace Brethren Church.
She will honor veterans, military personnel and their families at the ninth annual God and Country Rally to be held at 1 p.m. May 31 under a tent at the Meadows Family Fun Center, Duncansville. A musical prelude by David Davis and the Warrior River Boys begins at 12:30 p.m.
Shealy served in the Air Force for 20 years, having enlisted after graduating from Northern Bedford High School in 1985 and beginning her training in 1986.
While in the military, she earned an associate's degree in bio engineering and college credits in personnel administration. She pursued three different fields in the Air Force, serving in bio engineering, personnel and as a vocalist.
Today, she still supports the Air Force and all the branches of the military through her work with Military Ministry, a division of Campus Crusade for Christ International.
The program provides spiritual help to assist military personnel and their families with issues such as marriage difficulties, serving during war and post traumatic stress disorder. Military Ministry provides men and women with Rapid Deployment Kits that contain a Bible, devotional and a tract that tells them how to put their faith in Jesus Christ. The information is placed in a waterproof bag that fits in the cargo pocket of their uniforms.
"They can carry their Bible right into battle," Shealy said.
She said family members get Family Readiness Kits and the military personnel and their families can study the same spiritual lessons while they are apart.
The kits contain a special package for children with maps of the world, a journal and pages where they can write letters to their parent in the military. She said when the parent comes home, the child can share the challenges and celebration he or she experienced and wrote in the journal while the parent was deployed.
"We receive wonderful reports about the kits," she said.
Military Ministry also holds marriage seminars around the world and helps families coping with post-traumatic stress disorder.
Shealy said when her former husband was suffering from the disorder, it affected her, too.
She said the ministry's faith-based studies teach the military person that they can work through their issues.
"Faith makes a difference," she said. "It's the healing that God provides."
Shealy said the programs are made available through 1,000 chaplains worldwide.
She serves as communications manager for the ministry and works with volunteers throughout the United States who support soldiers, sailors and airmen through giving of their time, talents and money.
Volunteers may send encouraging letters to those in war zones or baby-sit so a couple can attend a marriage seminar. They also may pack kits or finance the ministry's programs.
Shealy will talk about the program during the God and Country Rally, but will focus on honoring those who support the country. She said about 200 veterans are expected to attend the rally along with families who have lost a loved one.
"I want to reach out and acknowledge their sacrifices," she said.
It was a need to acknowledge those sacrifices that started the original God and Country Rally in 2001. Dave Potter, chairman of the committee, attends Faith Baptist Church where the congregation sets aside the first week in January for prayer.
He said it was after his prayer time at the church in January 2001 that Pastor Gary Dull asked him to set up a program to acknowledge veterans.
Potter, a veteran who served in the Army for 11 years, said about 500 people attend the event and about 50 percent of the crowd are veterans and active duty military personnel.
In addition to Shealy, blue-grass performer David Davis and the Warrior River Boys of Cullman, Ala., will perform. Val Span, a member of Faith Baptist, will sing the national anthem and Frank Gates, a member of Leamersville Grace Brethren, will lead the Pledge of Allegiance.