Franklin Graham Celebrates July Fourth with Veterans and Their Spouses

July 4, 2017 • United States

Ten military couples are beginning a week of marriage enrichment at Samaritan Lodge Alaska.

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Jane Austin Graham greets Air Force Staff Sergeant Justin and Shauna Morrison of North Carolina.

Jane Austin Graham greets Air Force Staff Sergeant Justin and Shauna Morrison of North Carolina.

American flags waved high and fast in the crisp, chilly air of Alaska. A colorful banner reading “Thank You Patriots” welcomed the new arrivals. As soon as the plane landed on Sunday, July 2, local residents and Samaritan’s Purse staff formed a long line to greet each of the 10 military couples who had arrived for Week Six of Operation Heal Our Patriots.

Every week, it’s a hero’s welcome for the veterans and spouses who come to Samaritan Lodge Alaska. It was especially fitting this July Fourth week as 10 new couples start their time of Biblically-based marriage enrichment.

“This Fourth of July, I want to say thank you to all of our men and women who defend this nation,” Samaritan’s Purse President Franklin Graham said. “My prayer is that as a nation we’ll come together. Not only to worship God, but to support one another.”

Franklin Graham speaks with Fiona and Marine Sergeant Hubert Gonzales at Samaritan Lodge Alaska.

Franklin Graham speaks with Fiona and Marine Sergeant Hubert Gonzales at Samaritan Lodge Alaska.

Nearly 160 military couples, all with at least one spouse wounded in combat after 9/11, will join the Operation Heal Our Patriots family this summer. They bond together while taking a variety of excursions around Lake Clark and participating in daily chaplain-led marriage classes. Every activity is aimed at strengthening marriages and offering God’s healing love to these men and women who have sacrificed much.

“All the veterans who come here are wounded—they’ve had scars from war and battle,” Franklin said. “They have really paid a huge price. We focus on the family and try to bring them together and to save their marriages.”

A Firm Foundation

Marine Sergeant Daniel Erlandson and his wife Theresa (front left) were warmly greeted on July 2.

Marine Sergeant Daniel Erlandson and his wife Theresa (front left) were warmly greeted on July 2.

Marine Sergeant Daniel Erlandson and his wife Theresa have been looking forward to this week because they know it’s an opportunity to grow closer to each other and to God.

“We want a more solid foundation in our relationship with God. We know when we have that, our relationship with each other will be stronger as well,” Daniel explained.

The couple from Ohio said they’re also fulfilling a lifelong dream this week. “I still can’t believe I’m in Alaska—it’s always been a dream of mine to come here,” Daniel said.

They’re both grateful for the unique opportunity of celebrating Independence Day in Alaska.

Joanna and Marine Lance Corporal Devin Kyle enjoyed fishing aboard the Jay Hammond boat on Monday.

Joanna and Marine Lance Corporal Devin Kyle enjoyed fishing aboard the Jay Hammond boat on Monday.

“I don’t have any veteran friends who live close to me, so being around a bunch of guys who went through the same thing I did—that’s special,” Daniel said.

Joanna and Marine Lance Corporal Devin Kyle from Florida are also experiencing Alaska for the first time. “It’s so beautiful here,” Joanna said.

For their first excursion of the week, Joanna and Devin joined two other couples for a day of fishing.

“I’m not a big fisherman, but I wanted to connect with Devin,” Joanna said.

For Joanna, that’s what the week is all about—a stronger marriage.

“We want to get closer together and really learn to work together as a couple,” she said. “This week is a time to reconnect.”

Please pray that God would strengthen and restore marriages this July Fourth week in Alaska. Pray that couples will stand on the firm foundation of Jesus Christ.

Thank you Patriots for your military service! July Fourth 2017; Greeting at Port Alsworth Alaska Samaritan Lodge

Thank you Patriots!

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Operation Heal Our Patriots helps military couples build a strong spiritual foundation during a week of Biblically based workshops, relationship-building wilderness activities, and individual care by our retired military chaplains. We offer all this free of charge to these American heroes as a token of our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. Your gift will help us cover the costs—including transportation, lodging, activities, and long-term aftercare—so that we can help them find hope in the Lord.
Bless the Marriage of a Military Couple Operation Heal Our Patriots helps military couples build a strong spiritual foundation during a week of Biblically based workshops, relationship-building wilderness activities, and individual care by our retired military chaplains. We offer all this free of charge to these American heroes as a token of our appreciation for their service and sacrifice. Your gift will help us cover the costs—including transportation, lodging, activities, and long-term aftercare—so that we can help them find hope in the Lord.

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