In Love and War: A Soldier Armed with the TOB

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1st Lieutenant Trevor Needham is a Combat Engineer Platoon Leader with the Second Stryker Cavalry Regiment deployed to the Diyala Province, Iraq. He is also a student of JPII’s Theology of the Body. He and his wife Becky attended a Head & Heart Immersion Course (an intensive 5 day study of TOB) in June and Lt. Needham has been able to apply that knowledge in an unlikely place:

The first thing I noticed when I arrived in Kuwait was all of the graphic graffiti in the port-a-johns. General Order #1 bans all pornography in theater; however, there was no shortage on soldiers’ computers, or even drawn on the latrines. I quickly began to understand the struggle our soldiers were experiencing — the majority of my soldiers had never had to be in control of their sexual desires. It was something they had never experienced, and it made them very vulnerable to addiction. I suppose it has been the same for every generation, as I think back to the pin-up girls from WWII. The combination of high stress, separation from loved ones, and physically exhausting conditions creates an environment of vulnerability to any means of release or temporary escape, lust being a major temptation.

However, the deployment has been marked by small victories, and the TOB has helped me in my work and in my leadership role here in Iraq. You will talk about anything when you are on 8-to-12-hour patrols stuck inside a vehicle day in and day out. I have been asked a full spectrum of questions regarding morality, Catholicism, and God. Sometimes we have Bible studies on Sundays and it always turns into a Q&A session by the end. While I know that many of my soldiers will continue to be stuck in their habits, I take some comfort in having possibly planted a seed in their heart that there is something more out there.

Not only has TOB helped Lt. Needham educate our men and women overseas, but it has also helped him and his wife have a more meaningful and intimate relationship even from a distance:

The Theology of the Body helped us to discover intimacy beyond physical sexual contact, to really love the whole person and rejoice in her personhood, not just in the momentary pleasure the world would have us pursue.

He says that TOB and “understanding and living out the unity of man and wife” has helped him endure is “time in the desert” and look forward with greater anticipation to coming home to his family (this Nov.) – a family that includes a baby son whom he will be meeting for the first time. Read more from Lt. Needham and check out What is the Theology of the Body & Why is it Changing so Many Lives?

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