Veterans Day: Celebrating God's Work in Military Families

November 10, 2023 • United States
The second planeload of wounded veterans and their spouses arrives at Samaritan Lodge Alaska on May 28, 2023.
When military couples land in Alaska, it's an opportunity for a new beginning, and often just the beginning of a long redemptive journey.

This Veterans Day we honor our military veterans and celebrate God's work to transform the lives of veteran couples through Operation Heal Our Patriots, our ministry to military families.

Bless the Marriage of a Military Couple

In 2014, Army Staff Sergeant Petey Beam and his wife, Kyra, arrived at Samaritan Lodge Alaska for Operation Heal Our Patriots with their marriage in shambles. Their week got off to a rough start the first morning during kayaking class.

Petey and Kyra Beam came to Alaska with their marriage on the rocks and without a clear path forward.

Petey and Kyra Beam came to Alaska nearly ten years ago with their marriage on the rocks and without a clear path forward.

“We were the only couple sitting in our kayak screaming at each other,” Kyra said. “Our marriage had gotten so bad.”

And though God worked in their lives that week, teaching them what a Godly marriage looks like and the principles of good, healthy communication, Petey’s guard was up. There was no instantaneous change. It would be years yet.

Transformation Is a Journey

The Beams applied for Operation Heal Our Patriots because they didn’t know how to save their marriage. Their relationship suffered while Petey was in the military and it only got worse once he left.

“When I got out I felt worthless because the only thing I knew was being a soldier,” he said. “Kyra told me I came back from war a totally different person. I thought I was fine. I didn’t realize I was getting worse and worse.”

Petey served as a combat engineer and got caught in several IEDs. He came home with significant hip pain, a traumatic brain injury, and post-traumatic stress. Depression and suicidal thoughts also plagued him.

In the midst of those dark years in their family, their time in Alaska began giving them glimpses of hope. “Without Alaska, I wouldn’t be married today,” Petey said.

The Beams experienced a number of breakthroughs there. They learned how to better communicate and resolve conflict. For the first time, Petey shared with Kyra some of the horrors he’d experienced overseas.

“This was the first time he opened up about any of that,” Kyra said. “It was also the first time that he showed any desire to be married or to get past any of the stuff he did in war.”

Yet even with their breakthroughs, Alaska was just the beginning of a very long journey toward their greatest need—for Petey to experience new life in Jesus Christ and their marriage to be built on a firm Biblical foundation. Even after Alaska, their intense struggle continued.

Saving Faith

Kyra had been a Christian for a number of years. But Petey said that he didn’t understand why he needed God to “save his soul.” He went to church and gave a tithe, but he had never experienced a personal relationship with Jesus Christ.

It was many years after Alaska that Petey Beam received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. His and Kyra's marriage has experienced renewed life since then.

It was many years after Alaska that Petey Beam received Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. His and Kyra’s marriage has experienced renewed life since then.

Petey continued to hear the Gospel and to be encouraged to give his life to Christ during the annual Operation Heal Our Patriots reunion, which is open to all program alumni. The reunion is one of many opportunities throughout the year for military couples to connect with other alumni and grow in Christ through our Family Care ministry. Petey and Kyra attended the first year after they went to Alaska and have continued for nearly 10 years.

“Every night we would go back to our room and talk about what we were learning,” Kyra said.

It took years of God chiseling away at Petey’s hard shell—a shell that also kept people away and God at a distance. Surprisingly though, Petey kept returning with Kyra year after year to the reunions.

Then everything changed. At the reunion in 2022, in a small room at the Renaissance Hotel in Orlando, Florida, God took him by surprise through the piercing words of a chaplain. “The chaplain started talking about going all in. He said, ‘You can’t just give what you want to give. You gotta give all of it.’ I knew then that I wanted to give God all of me, even if I didn’t know exactly what that meant.”

That night, he repented of his sins and prayed to receive Jesus Christ as his Lord and Savior. “I heard God say, ‘You’ve been all in before. In the Army you were all in. I want you to be all in for me now.’

Petey knew that his life would never be the same.

“I got this crazy peace that I’ve never felt. It was peace that a whole shelf full of pills couldn’t give me.”

The Gift of Serving Others

The annual reunion is part of our Family Care ministry for Operation Heal Our Patriots alumni. Family Care is a lifelong commitment to support military couples and their families through efforts such as ongoing contact with our regional chaplains and marriage enrichment events.

The son of a homeowner, also an Operation Heal Our Patriots alumni, gives Petey a surprise hug.

The son of a homeowner, also an Operation Heal Our Patriots alumni, gives Petey a surprise hug.

Family Care also involves Team Patriot, which is the Samaritan’s Purse initiative that gives Operation Heal Our Patriots alumni the opportunity to volunteer in Jesus’ Name in hard-hit communities following natural disasters.

Petey was interested but hesitant to join because of his injuries. “For years I’d had every excuse in the book. What could I do? I didn’t even really know how to paint,” he said.

But he knew he wanted to serve others, so a few months after giving his life to Christ at the reunion he headed to Lake Charles, Louisiana, to help rebuild homes destroyed by Hurricanes Laura and Delta.

Our staff and other Team Patriot volunteers encouraged Petey and taught him the necessary construction skills, and he has since deployed to numerous other rebuild and disaster relief sites.

The Beams have sold their farmhouse and livestock so they have more time and available financial resources to invest in ministry. “We wanted to go on mission trips, and we couldn’t do that with 30 acres of land,” Petey said. “I was done with excuses.”

Petey also started leading family prayer time at home and teaching the middle school group at church.

Kyra is both amazed and thankful at the transformation she’s seen in her husband’s life since he came to faith in Christ. “Things used to be very different. I’d have to talk with our son about why his dad would get angry and mean,” she said. “Now, he’s completely changed. He’s changed in ways he doesn’t even realize.”

“If anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation; old things have passed away; behold, all things have become new” (2 Corinthians 5:17).

Petey has experienced a renewed sense of calling to serve hurting people through Team Patriot.

Petey has experienced a renewed sense of calling to serve hurting people through Team Patriot.

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 Family Care—so that we can help them find hope in the Lord.

Operation Heal Our Patriots 013960
Suggested Gift: $60