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Backstory: Enlisting churches to help soldiers

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"That's probably the closest I've ever come to hate," says Morris."I came so close to the mentality: 'Kill them all and God is on our side.' Spiritual discipline held me back from that abyss."

Morris's spiritual discipline was still being tested two months after he returned home to Roseville, Minn. He was experiencing violent mood swings. His anger erupted at the slightest provocation, as when someone cut in front of him in a line at the airport. Morris wondered what combat soldiers must face after coming home.

"I'm a chaplain and I didn't pull a trigger and didn't take a human life, and I'm this mad," he says.

The horrors of war do shadow American soldiers. According to a 2004 study published in the New England Journal of Medicine, 17 percent of combat veterans arrive home with mental health issues, ranging from depression to posttraumatic stress disorder.

National Guard soldiers face their own peculiar problems. They experience a rapid change from military to civilian life. In less than two weeks, once their tours in Iraq or Afghanistan are up, they can go from dodging roadside bombs and insurgent ambushes, to picking up Starbucks and rushing to a business meeting. Moreover, not since World War II have so many Guard soldiers served in combat and had to reintegrate into civilian life.

The Pentagon has learned – often the hard way – that returning soldiers need long-term support with the transition. "We didn't do it for the Vietnam vets, and in a sense we're paying for that now," says David Segal, a military sociologist at the University of Maryland.

Guard soldiers are entitled to the same counseling and support services offered to members of other branches of the military. But they often live hundreds of miles from the nearest military post, which can make counseling difficult.

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