Each week they gather, drawing strength from numbers, finding solace and understanding in shared hugs and tears.

Sometimes, they are the glue holding Families together while their spouses fight on battlefields far from home in places they can barely pronounce. Sometimes, they have to help bring those same Warriors back from a precipice steeper than anything most could fathom.

And sometimes, they are left to pick up the pieces and move on after their hero, husband, father, pays the ultimate price for freedom. They are the Protestant Women of the Chapel - more commonly known as PWOC - and the group held its spring kickoff Jan. 13 at Fort Polk's Main Post Chapel.
PWOC president Suzanne Peck said the organization - which has chapters at military posts throughout the world - offers women a chance to further their spiritual lives through Bible studies while also offering encouragement and strength from other Christian women who have already walked in their steps.

"Some of the women in our group have been through five or six deployments," Peck said. "Their experience is invaluable, especially for young women who are facing their first deployment. Many of them have kids, and having to handle everything while their spouse is in harm's way can be overwhelming."

Every 13 weeks, PWOC offers a choice of five or six different Bible studies to encourage group members to stay in the Word of God. Classes are taught by experienced members of PWOC.

Kim Fox is a member of PWOC. She joined because she had been a member in Germany and found it was a great way to meet other Christian women. "Protestant Women of the Chapel offers such encouragement, and is a great way to meet people in your same situation who are like-minded," Fox said. "It's also a great way to be held accountable."

Fox said older women - not in age, but in their Christian walk - have much to offer younger Christians. "They (older Christians) can point out scripture that helps them get through difficult times, or offer prayer support when life seems on the verge of veering out of control," she said. "They become an extended Family."

Peck points to another benefit of PWOC. "It's a great place to have fun, food and fellowship while casting away the cares of the world for a couple of hours each week," Peck said. "Also, we offer free child care. That's hard to beat." Tuesday, PWOC starts its first Bible study of the new semester, so Peck said it's the perfect time to join the group, which meets Tuesdays from 9-11:30 a.m. at the Main Post Chapel. About 70 members meet weekly, and Peck said there is room for plenty more to join. "We want every woman in this community - on or off post - to know that there is a place they can turn to when it seems as if they are all alone," Peck said. "We are a viable option and we'll do whatever we can to help." For more information about PWOC call 718-3132.