A Navy Chaplain is encouraging sailors to share the Gospel of Jesus Christ with each other following a series of suicides on the USS George Washington.
In an interview with CBN News, Navy Chaplain Louis Lee stressed that it was important that young sailors have a relationship with Christ, especially since the challenges that come with being in the armed services can lead to depression.
"I would say the hope that we can give is the gospel message," he told the outlet. "It's Christ."
Chaplain Lee also encouraged all believers to support military personnel in any way they can.
"There's chaplains, but more so, there's good Christian sailors who can share the gospel or maybe somebody, a family member, a grandmother, who prays for them or, every now and then when they talk to them, they encourage them to trust in the Lord and read the Bible and whatever it may be," he explained.
The U.S. Navy is currently investigating several suicides that have occurred aboard the USS George Washington while it has been docked in Newport News, Virginia. The aircraft carrier has been docked off the coast of Virginia since 2017 for extended maintenance.
Seven sailors have reportedly committed suicide aboard the ship in the last two years, with three dying in April. According to the Navy, the use of "gunplay" was involved in one of the deaths. The cause, however, has yet to be determined.
Sailors aboard the ship now have increased access to mental health services. Some are also being allowed to live outside of the carrier at the nearby Navy barracks at the Norfolk Naval Station instead of being confined to the ship.
Virginia Congresswoman and Navy veteran Elaine Luria recently toured the carrier and noted that there was a sense of isolation among new service members.
She is seeking more information about possible leadership issues and whether the sailors have access to adequate mental health services.
The U.S. Navy, the maritime branch of the nation's armed forces, said in a statement that "The circumstances surrounding these incidents vary, and it is premature to make assumptions, as some incidents remain under investigation."
According to Admiral John Meier, Commander of the Atlantic Naval Air Forces, the extended ship maintenance may have taken a toll on the sailors who have taken their own lives since the workload is more difficult than most assignments.
"That's clearly our most at-risk population in terms of how [to] adapt to military life, how they on-board to a command, how they process into a ship that's in a shipyard," he said. "Without a doubt more challenging to come into this kind of environment than others."
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Milton Quintanilla is a freelance writer. He is also the co-hosts of the For Your Soul podcast, which seeks to equip the church with biblical truth and sound doctrine. Visit his blog Blessed Are The Forgiven.