Founder's Vision

Veterans Patrol started as a calling of Brother Jim Lanning a Vietnam veteran. The following is a letter he wrote 1 July 2019 explaining his background and his mission to found Veterans Patrol.

Dear Fellow Veteran,

I am a Christian and a veteran---both are deeply woven into my journey. In 2018 at a gathering of my old infantry outfit, I was overwhelmed by both the joy and pain experienced from over 50 years ago in Viet Nam; but many had no peace. Ecclesiastes 4:10 (NIV) says “ But pity the man who falls and has no one to help him up”---

Veterans serving in other times are just as likely to bring home challenges that family and friends can’t understand. Veterans share a camaraderie and feel the warmth of brotherhood when they meet. I always say, ‘I know your heart’; due to our unique military experiences.

An outreach movement outside of the traditional church has resulted in ‘a breath of fresh air’ with ministries created for specific focus groups.

For example, there are cowboy churches, biker churches, country churches for fishermen, hunters’, skeet enthusiasts, as well as long-time established ‘chapels for truckers’ at truck stops. Question: Why not have a focus group for veterans? There are over 20 million veterans in the United States; top is California with two million followed by Texas and Florida with 1.6 million each.

In San Marcos, Texas, at a Noonday Lions Club meeting, Gene Hooper, local representative for the Military Veterans Peer Network, was the speaker. His presentation was about “challenges for veterans’. Gene and I visited and the need for a “Veterans Church” emerged. Then God gave me a two-year stay in upstate New York that provided time and a crucible to formulate and test a pilot ministry called Veterans Patrol. My desire was to eliminate the traditional barriers that hinder veterans from finding peace and faith.

In 2018, with the blessing of the local Veterans Service Officers, I targeted students at State University of New York (SUNY) New Paltz and (SUNY) Ulster County, who were recently discharged veterans. To my disappointment, no meaningful traction resulted. I did not feel led to stop; like in the scripture of John 21, I started to ‘fish on the opposite side of the boat!’ with men in my Bible study group.

I sought guidance at Goodwill Church, New Paltz, NY. The counsel was that I enroll in the Stephens Ministry’s fifty-hour certification training; which I did. I met another enrolled member, Kimberly Cardona-Smith, who had recently retired from the Air Force, and who agreed that there was a need for this kind of group. I felt a confirmation to continue.

God called Kimberly into a position of leadership at Goodwill Church, but before she took that position, she was part of the core group meeting at my home that included Jason Stevens, Greyson Thomas and myself to focus on starting a Veterans Patrol in New Paltz. Our first meeting was on 19 March 2019; and we followed the Holy Spirit and found confirmation. Jeff (Doc) Lang quickly followed and became the subject matter expert.

Finding nothing in the literature that met our vision, we acted like a ‘recon patrol’ to find our WAY and at every weekly meeting God showed us another directive. Adding to the concepts of ‘service to the nation’; camaraderie, and the ‘I’ve got your back story’ God led us to a Bible based model that was flexible and inclusive; with the directive to ‘bring peace’. We distilled a mission statement: