Veterans who have seen horrific sights on the battlefield often need to find a space that provides solace and tranquility. This can be arduous, but there are potential opportunities for veterans in life after service. A recent pilgrimage to Lourdes was undertaken with the support of U.S. Archdiocese for the Military Services and the Knights of Columbus, according to Catholic News Service. Various veterans visited Our Lady of Lourdes, a popular destination for devout Catholics, from May 13-19. 

Pilgrimage a global event
The event is called Warriors to Lourdes, including an impressive array of both nations and troops. According to The Catholic Register, 36 nations and over 12,000 troops took part in the journey. Catholic News shared the sentiments of U.S. Army Maj. Derrick Mitchell, who expressed the difficulty at attending church during time spent overseas. Hopefully the pilgrimage will succeed in allowing religious soldiers to worship in familiar ways at a historical site. 

"We don't want to forget those who have sacrificed so much and still need our attention and support — our wounded warriors. So this is a way of increasing consciousness of their situation," said Supreme Knight Carl A. Anderson, according to the Catholic Register.

Dedicated to bringing pastoral care and community solidarity to servicemembers
The source noted that the Knights of Columbus have a significant presence in the U.S., a presence that has long focused on providing troops with various forms of support since World War I. The pilgrimage was only pioneered last year, but has attracted a wide swathe of followers. The event features mass, sacraments and various other essentials of Roman Catholicism. This sect of Christianity is widely reputed for the significant emphasis it places on community and ritual – components that may be military benefits for a veteran who has been seeking solidarity and profound human bonds after military service. 

Veterans interested in making the trip in the future should visit the Lourdes Volunteer's website to elicit more information about the trip. Those making the pilgrimage will have a significant amount of resources at their disposal, such as military chaplains, daily meals, guided tours and personal care insurance. The stated purpose of the trip is clearly elucidated on the website- a personal journey for soldiers and veterans suffering from spiritual turmoil from war. The trip seeks to create a warm community experience by providing pastoral care that is sometimes hard to find.

"The healing that is so necessary with our men and women who have worn courageously our uniform in battles, especially during the last 12 years of these wars, and now are suffering from their wounds. We pray for healing, patience and understanding," said Auxiliary Bishop F. Richard Spencer, according to The Catholic Register. 

Church's dedication to the suffering
The Bishop's comments are emblematic of the church's devotion to helping those most in need, especially when times grow difficult. This mission in Lourdes has corresponded with a dedication to helping soldiers. According to the Archdiocese for the Military Services, U.S.A., the pilgrimage began in 1958 to offer a venue for German troops to atone after WWII.

Since then, the pilgrimage has occurred 56 times, generating a wide international following. The source noted that wounded veterans and soldiers may attend for free, due to the work of the Knights of Columbus. 

Citizens looking to become involved in the pilgrimage should visit, which provides a page that allows donations to be made for the purposes of sending a pilgrim to Lourdes. This may be just what a veteran readjusting to civilian life, or current soldier in the military, needs. Benefits for veterans are far more then just health insurance – many would say that the human element must be in place for successful healing, an element Lourdes is imbued with.