CSC Chaplains in the News

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CSC Chaplain plublished in the The Military Chaplain

by Air Force Reserve Selectee Jeannie Belgrave
Originally published in the Summer 2014 Edition of the Military Chaplains Association magazine, The Military Chaplain
Summer 2014
Editor's Note: Air Force Reserve Selectee Jeannie Belgrave is a CSC chaplain

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CSC Chaplain offers Invocation for Communion Service at prestigious Minister’s Conference

June 2014
Editor's Note: Chaplain (CPT) Sharon Browne is a CSC chaplain


(Photo from Chaplain Browne's posting in FaceBook)

Hampton, VA — CSC Chaplain (CPT) Sharon Browne, US Army, was honored to offer the Invocation for the Communion Service at the historical and prestigious 100th Hampton University Minister’s Conference in June 2014.


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Lt. Col. Brian Bohlman Earns 2013 ANG Chaplain of the Year

by Airman 1st Class Ashleigh S. Pavelek — 169th Fighter Wing
Originally Posted 4/19/2014 on Air Force Print News Today
Editor's Note: Chaplain (LT COL) Brian Bohlman is a CSC chaplain

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. — Chaplain, Lt. Col. Brian L. Bohlman, assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, has been awarded the Samuel Stone Award in recognition as the Air National Guard's Chaplain of the year in 2013.


Lt. Col. Brian Bohlman, chaplain for the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, was selected as the 2013 Air National Guard Chaplain of the Year. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Senior Master Sgt. Edward Snyder/Released)

"I feel honored that I get to lead a great Chaplain Corps," said Bohlman. "We have a team of great people."

The Samuel Stone award is named after the late Chaplain Samuel Stone, the first recorded chaplain to serve in the militia of colonial America. The annual winner is based on training accomplishments and contributions to mission support, leadership contributions to military or civilian community and enrollment in off-duty programs of professional self-improvement.

Bohlman enlisted in 1992 as a chaplain assistant and was ordained in 1996. Today, Bohlman is a dedicated staff officer accomplishing many feats. These include being the first certified instructor of the Spiritual Resilience curriculum, serving on the Military Chaplains Association Executive Committee and leading Strong Bonds retreats.

Currently a drill status Guardsman, Bohlman makes himself readily available to assist the full-time needs of approximately 1,300 Airmen. Last year he served almost 130 duty days to aid in the mission of the 169th Fighter Wing. He also contributes part-time as a healthcare chaplain and as an adjunct professor of practical studies for Liberty University.

Bohlman emphasized the importance of availability in order to meet mission requirements and the spiritual needs of the people. Airmen value a chaplain beyond times of personal crisis. The importance of the Chaplain Corps is essential for overall spiritual health through faith or an individual's personal belief system.


Drawing inspiration from daily events, Bohlman distributes these life lessons throughout the staff and service members. He commented that caring for the needs of others ensures that the mission will always be accomplished.

One of Bohlman's most defining periods happened while deployed at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan in 2012. There he spent time helping severely wounded warriors at the Craig Joint Theatre Hospital. Bohlman stated that working with amputees in the hospital setting helped him to better understand resiliency.

"It gave me purpose and meaning to never give up," said Bohlman. "God can use any tragedy and help people to find meaning and purpose and actually triumph."

Bohlman attributes the ministry of presence of the SCANG Chaplain Corps as the most significant component to winning the Samuel Stone award.



"Visibility is key," said Bohlman. "Building relationships with the Airmen is important to earn the right to help in a time of need."

In June, Bohlman plans to refresh Sunday worship services. His Chaplain Corps will also begin unit walk-through visits with Swampfox Airmen to build meaningful relationships in order to care for the souls of Airmen in their time of need.


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CSC Chaplain Lexis Gibson Aleigha Kennedy receives the Wilson Award

Editor's Note: Chaplain Lexis Gibson Aleigha Kennedy is a CSC chaplain

CSC Chaplain Lexis Gibson Aleigha Kennedy received the Wilson Award at the MER Regional Conference April 5, 2014. The award was presented by CAP National Commander, Gen. Carr. and the daughter of Col. Gil Robb Wilson (the Founder/Organizer of CAP).


CAP National Commander, Gen. Carr and the daughter of Col. Gil Robb Wilson (the Founder/Organizer of CAP) present CSC Chaplain Lexis Gibson Aleigha Kennedy with the Wilson Award at the MER Regional Conference April 5, 2014

The Gill Robb Wilson Award is Civil Air Patrol’s (CAP) highest award for senior member professional development. It recognizes senior members who have dedicated themselves to leadership and personal development in the CAP. This award was first given in 1964 and honors the late Gill Robb Wilson. He is regarded as the founder of Civil Air Patrol, and served as CAP’s first executive officer.

Civil Air Patrol is the Auxiliary of the United States Air Force. CAP has a three-fold mission. It includes emergency services, the cadet program, and aerospace education. CAP professional development provides technical skills and leadership training to senior members age 18 and over to support CAP’s mission. The program enables these adults to develop these skills while providing a vital public service to our nation.

As the member progresses through the program, he or she completes five increasingly complex training levels. Each level requires the member to become more involved in CAP activities, master skills in one of 23 technical areas, and develop leadership ability. As he or she completes these levels, the member receives awards, chances for promotion, and selection for more important roles within CAP.

The final milestone is the Wilson Award. It is earned after receiving the Paul E. Garber Award. In addition, members must direct the training of fellow members in a variety of courses. He or she must also have served in command or leadership positions for at least three years. Finally, he or she must have completed CAP’s capstone course, the National Staff College, or approved equivalent.

As CAP’s premierpletes five increasingly complex training levels. Each level requires the member to become more involved in CAP activities, master skills in one of 23 technical areas, and develop leadership ability. As he or she completes these levels, the member receives awards, chances for promotion, and selection for more important roles within CAP.

The final milestone is the Wilson Award. It is earned after receiving the Paul E. Garber Award. In addition, members must direct the training of fellow members in a variety of courses. He or she must also have served in command or leadership positions for at least three years. Finally, he or she must have completed CAP’s capstone course, the National Staff College, or approved equivalent.

As CAP’s premiere award for senior member professional development, the Gill Robb Wilson Award should be presented by an Air Force or CAP general officer, an elected state or federal official, or other distinguished person.


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Chaplain Makes History in Kentucky
Kentucky Guard welcomes its first female in that position in 25 years

by SSG Scott Raymond
Originally Posted 3/6/2014 on http://gxonline.com
Editor's Note: Chaplain (MAJ) Angela White is a CSC chaplain

FRANKFORT, KY — Angela White knew at a young age she wanted to wear a uniform and serve her country. So one day when she saw a Marine Corps recruiter at her high school in Montana, she walked up and said she wanted to enlist. The recruiter told her no.


MAJ Angela White is sworn in as only the second female chaplain for the Kentucky National Guard during a ceremony in Frankfort, KY. Photo by SSG Scott Raymond

Twenty-five years later, White was sworn in as a major and the second female chaplain in the Kentucky National Guard during an appointment ceremony in Frankfort, KY, Feb. 21.

It has been more than 25 years since a female has served as a chaplain in the Kentucky Guard, a fact White says contributes to the idea that things happen for a reason.

"I was called to join the military," she says. "God has healed me in so many ways. God revealed to me my way; this is what I was meant to do. If you feel called by God, he will make a way for you. It's the truth. And Kentucky is a fine place to be as a woman in the chaplaincy."

White never understood why the Marines didn't even give her a chance. She would later walk to a recruiting station and into the Air Force office. After several years of service as a bomber mechanic, then an Army nurse, the adventurous mother of two began her next chapter in uniform.

"I was off on an adventure when I wanted to be a Marine, and it was exciting to work on big aircraft, and I've always cared about people, so that was the nursing step. Now I'm off on an adventure with people I care about," she says, trying to make sense of her own career steps. "The military life is a challenge, we all have an adventurous spirit, and God loves that."

White says the path to becoming a chaplain was challenging but credits her family's support as her driving force, recalling the constant encouragement she received from them.

"My husband is my biggest fan. My daughter would put little notes in my bags when I left for training that said 'Mommy, you're going to do great!' I keep one of those in my wallet today."

White is married to Lieutenant Colonel Jamie White, a pilot with the 123rd Airlift Wing of the Kentucky Air National Guard.

"We're so proud of her," Jamie says. "She has accomplished a lot, she's always been on the edge in the military, never being afraid of a job, and she's been preparing for this for the past twenty-five years."

The family of four now resides in Shelbyville, KY, where White serves as liturgist, Sunday school director and peer counselor at a local pregnancy resource center for single and low-income mothers.

She will serve as chaplain for the 1204th Aviation Support Battalion in Burlington, KY. Chaplain (Major) Bill Draper, 63rd Theater Aviation Brigade chaplain, says White is just whom the Kentucky Guard needs to serve in such capacity.

"Chaplain Angie White's prior experience as an Active Duty enlisted Airman, Soldier and officer will help her build solid relationships with Soldiers and staff members alike," says Draper. "This will enable her to provide religious support that is both intentional and genuine."

Lieutenant Colonel Yong Cho, state chaplain for the Kentucky Guard, swore White in during the ceremony and says it was a good day for the Guard. Cho also spoke of White's unique background and how it will help her in the future.

"All of the chaplains are happy for her and her family today; it has been a faithful road for her," says Cho. "Chaplain White's skills and military service will only enhance her ministry, and she will bring diversity to the Chaplain Corps."

White is glad that she has accomplished her newest challenge and doesn't concern herself with the minority aspect of her position, just the way forward.

"I'm so excited today, it's finally here, to start this journey, but there are a lot of great female chaplains out there, maybe it just wasn't the right time here," she says. "It may be nice to hear that I'm the first in a long time, but this is about being a chaplain, being part of a family and working with Soldiers."

See more at: http://gxonline.com


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"I Will Revolutionize the Way People Look at Chaplains"

by Master Sgt. Todd Moomaw, Tech. Sgt. Sara Robinson
132nd Fighter Wing, Iowa Air National Guard
Originally Posted 2/10/2013 on http://www.ang.af.mil/
Editor's Note: Chaplain (1st Lt.) Tony Davy is a CSC chaplain

DES MOINES, Iowa — As Airmen, we all raised our right hand and swore to 'support and defend The Constitution of the United States'. This is no exception for members of the Air Force Chaplain Corps. As a matter of fact, they focus on one very important part of the Constitution, our First Amendment Right to 'Free Exercise of Religion.'

Chaplain (1st Lt.) Tony Davy is the newest member of the Iowa Air National Guard 132nd Fighter Wing's Chaplain Team. As a young man growing up in Independence, Iowa, he felt the call to ministry at the young age of 11. This started him on a spiritual journey that has led him to a better understanding of the power of spirituality and diversity in religion.

After high school he worked as a counselor at a boarding school and looked for opportunities that he thought would help people. He then decided that the military would be a good place to gain insight in the world and maybe help him grow as a person. "I'll join the guard for a couple years and see," he said in May of 2003. Davy first served as a traditional enlisted member in the Logistics Readiness Squadron for 9 years. He was selected in 2008 as the 132nd Fighter Wing Non-Commissioned Officer of the Year. After finishing his Bachelor's Degree in Business from Upper Iowa University, he earned a Seminary degree from Liberty University.

It was now time for Davy to decide what direction he wanted his military career to go. Davy's motivation to become a Chaplain came from interacting with his peers on drill weekends and several overseas deployments. "People in uniform come into contact with more reasons to look to the divine," he says. In Davy's 20 years working in ministry he learned that spirituality can be the key to a better society as a whole.

"We can make the world a better place, one person at a time. We have the ability to help others, but often we choose not to. Don't be concerned about, 'what's in it for me', says Davy. Being a good person is not specific to any religious affiliation. Chaplains serving in the United States military need to be prepared to offer spiritual guidance regardless of someone's religious or spiritual beliefs.

"We [Chaplains] give everyone access or the right to worship as they choose or the right not to do anything. We treat the people around us appropriately, regardless of religion. If you get strength from a religion we want you to practice that regardless of the religion. Spirituality supplements our relationships with everyone," explains Davy.

The US military is a culturally rich, interfaith environment as is the Chaplain Corps. Chaplains can specialize in Muslim, Protestant, Jewish, Greek Orthodox, Catholic, Buddhist, Hindu or Sikh beliefs. They are not however limited to just those areas. All Chaplains should be able to council, support and advise any other area.

Davy has 2 objectives to reach his goals as a chaplain. First, make himself available to anyone who wants to speak of a spiritual nature. "We don't always see that we are spiritual, but crisis in our lives can make us come to grips with our spirituality," he says. The second goal is to increase participation in base worship services. Davy understands the challenges of people making themselves available on busy drill weekends, but wants to create an excitement or buzz around worship. "There is strength in numbers, we can create synergy with more people, and on an individual basis it boils down to connecting with the person next to you."

Lt. Davy says, "I will revolutionize the way people look at Chaplains." All of us should be in the ministry, all the time. Chaplains are stewards of community and citizenship. Community is common and unity combined. Too often, we just want to be us, but we have to help each other. Being a good wingman does not stop at the end of drill weekend. We need to be wingmen for other citizens to help the world be a better place.

"Assisting other people will give us more fulfillment in our own lives. We should be reaching out every day to minister hope and address needs with people we come in contact with every day," he says.


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Caregiver of the Soul

by Chaplain, Lt Col Brian Bohlman, Air National Guard
Originally published in the October 2012 issue of COMMAND magazine, Vol.61 No. 5, by Officers Christian Fellowship of the United States of America, Englewood, Colorado
Editor's Note: Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brian Bohlman is a CSC chaplain

As military members, it is important for us to “tell our story” as a healthy way of processing the emotional impact of serving in harm’s way, especially after returning from deployment.


Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brian Bohlman prays for a severely injured girl in Afghanistan. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Clay Lancaster | U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs | Date: 05.26.2012)

During my last week as a hospital chaplain in Afghanistan, I gave a behind-the-scenes tour of the facility to some public affairs staff members who later wrote an article about chaplains caring for the warrior’s soul. It was a divine encounter. Before they left, God used me to care for their own souls while using them to help me tell my story—which is hard to do at times.

I provided ministry to over 1,500 wounded warriors with many asking me to pray for them, their families, and especially the members of their unit they’d left behind. Regardless of their faith or beliefs, I always took the time to listen to their stories of grief and pain, and then thank them for the sacrifices they had made for freedom.

During this tour, my fifth deployment, I also had the privilege of ministering to and helping the devoted doctors and nurses who rendered their medical expertise to the injured. These caregivers are forced to keep their feelings and emotions out of their difficult work, often confronted by unique challenges such as providing the same level of care to both a prisoner of war and the very soldier the POW wounded. These medics sometimes just need to talk to someone.

As a Christian chaplain, my ministry model resembles Christ’s own—walking the road with grief-stricken men, asking them questions, taking time to listen to their pain, and offering comfort from Scriptures (Luke 24). Combat zone ministry presented me with unique perspectives on faith and fear. My faith was tested every time there was indirect fire from an incoming rocket or mortar attack. I had to deal with my own fears that I could be severely injured—or never return to my family.

Beyond physical injuries, many wounded warriors I ministered to had hidden emotional, mental, and spiritual wounds deeply affecting them. As a caregiver of the soul, I learned that keeping a ministry journal helped me process the images and emotions I had from serving in a war-zone trauma hospital. This is what I journaled on one of the most difficult days of my tour:

A suicide bomber north of our location detonated himself near a playground, killing and injuring over thirty innocent victims, including three American soldiers. While assisting the medical staff, I noticed that much of the trauma floor was covered in puddles of blood, including the soles of my tan boots. It reminded me of a World War II photo of a chaplain kneeling next to a soldier with boots covered with mud. The photo caption described how chaplains must be willing to get dirty in order to bring ministry to service members wherever they are serving—in the field, the woods, or a tent. Or in a hospital trauma unit, covered with the blood of America’s bravest men and women who sacrificed themselves for freedom.

Since returning from my tour, I am continually reminded of something I once heard, Freedom has a taste to those who have fought for it, and almost died, that the protected will never know. Since the earliest days of our nation, every generation of Americans has answered the call to duty in times of peace and war. I may never again see the unsung heroes I served with, but I will always remember them and treasure the opportunity of ministering God’s presence, care, and hope to them as we walked our portion of the Emmaus road together.

Originally published in the October 2012 issue of COMMAND magazine, Vol.61 No. 5, by Officers Christian Fellowship of the United States of America, Englewood, Colorado. Reprinted/used with permission. For information on the work and mission of OCF or how to become a member, contact OCF: www.ocfusa.org or 1-800-761-1984.

About the Author: Chaplain Brian Bohlman is a life member of the Military Chaplains Association and served on the MCA National Executive Council from 2010-2013. He currently serves as the Wing Chaplain, 169th Fighter Wing, McEntire Joint National Guard Base. He also serves as a chaplain at a behavioral health center and as an adjunct professor of chaplaincy ministries at Liberty Baptist Theological Seminary. He is the author of So Help Me God: A Reflection on the Military Oath and For God and Country: Considering the Call to Military Chaplaincy.


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Caring for the warrior's soul

by Senior Airman Alexandria Mosness, U.S. Air Forces Central Public Affairs
Published on June 01, 2012
Editor's Note: Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brian Bohlman is a CSC chaplain

BAGRAM AIRFIELD, Afghanistan (AFNS) — The chaplain gave the cross he brought from home to the young Marine from Florida who was injured. The Marine, who was engaged to a girl in Jacksonville, Fla., had been injured in a roadside bomb explosion and lost the cross that was on his body armor. When the chaplain presented the cross to the youthful Marine, both men cried.


Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brian Bohlman meets with and prays with members of the Craig Joint Theater Hospital May 26, 2012, at Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. Chaplain Bohlman works the night shift at the hospital and routinely visits patients, American and Afghan, throughout the night helping them to cope with their circumstances. The hospital here employs 528 joint medical staff members. Bohlman is assigned to the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing. (U.S. Air Force photo/Staff Sgt. Clay Lancaster)

This was Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brian Bohlman's first experience as the night-shift chaplain at Craig Joint-Theater Hospital here approximately six months ago.

The chaplain would experience these types of scenarios and more throughout his time at CJTH, one of the largest and best-equipped trauma facilities in Afghanistan.

Anytime a trauma patient comes in to the hospital, the chaplain's pager goes, he said.

"Our role in the trauma room is to introduce ourselves, and we tell them we are praying for them," said Bohlman, who is deployed from the 169th Fighter Wing at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C. "We will also follow them while they are in the hospital."

The chaplain doesn't only deal with trauma, but also makes hospital visits to patients who are stable.

"(The chaplain's assistance and I) generally see about 15 people a night," Bohlman said. "I always ask them their hometown."

Caring for people is nothing new for the 20-year Air Force veteran.


U.S. Air Force Lt. Col. Brian Bohlman, chaplain with the 455th Air Expeditionary Wing, Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, meets with and prays with a severely injured Afghan girl at the Craig Joint Theater Hospital, May 26, 2012. Bohlman works the night shift at the hospital and routinely visits patients, American and Afghan, throughout the night helping them to cope with their circumstances. The hospital here employs 528 joint medical staff. (U.S. Air Force Photo by Staff Sgt. Clay Lancaster)

Bohlman always had a strong internal call to serve, he said. He didn't meet the requirements to serve as a chaplain, so he came into the military in 1992 as a chaplain's assistant. After serving four years on active duty and a year in the Reserve, he earned a commission through the Air Force Chaplain Candidate Program.

"Our mission is to care for the warrior's soul," Bohlman said. "There are three functions we do: one is nurturing the living, two is caring for the wounded and three is honoring the dead. On this deployment, I've done all three, but I definitely prefer the first."

The rosy-cheeked chaplain carries a small green book from his left breast pocket. Though, the book is not worth more than a couple of dollars, this book holds a much deeper meaning.

Every injured military member Bohlman has come in contact with resides in this green book. Their name, rank and service are typed on a name tag in the book, but what makes the pages special are the notes he has written about each individual.

"I try and write a little bit about everyone I meet," he said.

There are particular service members who have stories that have stuck with Bohlman --the Army quadruple amputee, the suicide victims and those who didn't make it.

"In April, we had a lot of traumas," he said with sadness. "At one point there were four patients in the trauma room, and I looked down and realized there was a lot of blood on floor. I still have those stains on my boots. I thought about the sacrifice and how our job can be dirty one. I just thought about how they truly left their mark on me."

After his first week at the hospital, Bohlman told the staff that he can pray and chew gum at the same time, meaning he could help out if it was needed.

"I was taking temperatures, putting on the blood pressure cuff and getting warm blankets," he said.

Chaplain Bohlman has been great," said Maj. (Dr.) Micah Schmidt, an emergency room physician. "He participates in all the traumas. He is very helpful. It is not expected, but it's nice. Just the other night, he helped me change the dressing on a gunshot wound."

It's not just the patients the chaplain watches after, but also the staff members who work at the hospital.

"We're here to listen to their stories," Bohlman said. "A lot of times, the staff will compartmentalize what they deal with. You can have an enemy prisoner of war and the Soldier who was injured by the enemy POW, but you have to give the same exact care. They have to keep their feelings and emotions out of it."

The chaplain is always asking the staff about their well-being.

"I usually ask if they've talked to their family lately," he said. "Are you taking the time to exercise? How are you processing what you are seeing? My goal is to build resilient Airmen. I tell them I'm here regardless of their faith or denomination. My job is to provide care for their soul."

A lot of times, they just need someone to talk to, he said.

"They have seen a lot but the way they deal with is knowing that many would die if they weren't here," he said. "They see the big picture. It helps them during difficult days to pull through."

While this is the chaplain's fifth deployment overseas, losing people never gets easier, he said.

Bohlman said he will always have a place in his heart for the military members he has lost throughout the years.

"At the end of the sermons I give, I have a slideshow of the service members I've worked with who have died, and I always tell my congregation, 'these are the faces of freedom!'" he exclaimed.


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Ministry among the Troops in Afghanistan

Published on May 21, 2012 — Columbia International University
Editor's Note: Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brian Bohlman is a CSC chaplain

Lt. Col. Brian Bohlman, a U.S. Air Force chaplain, graduated from Columbia International University in 2000 with a Master of Divinity degree. Today, he finds himself in one of the world’s hotspots – Afghanistan. As a military chaplain Bohlman is what CIU Chaplaincy Professor Michael Langston calls "the bearer of the presence of God – the physical reminder that God is always with us." From Afghanistan, Bohlman talked about his work in an email conversation.


Chaplain Brian Bohlman greets President Barack Obama during a surprise visit by the president to Afghanistan. The president told Bohlman, "Thank you, Chaplain, for what you do here. You are part of the healing team." (White House photo)

Describe your responsibilities.

I have been deployed since March 2012 from my Air National Guard unit in Eastover, S.C. and serving at Craig Joint Theater Hospital, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan. As the senior hospital chaplain at the only trauma center in Afghanistan, I oversee and deliver pastoral care to 528 Joint Medical Staff who provide urgent health care to U.S. and Coalition Forces, Afghan National Security Forces, contractors, and local nationals.

What is the relationship between those you minister to and the chaplain? How do they view you?

My primary mission is to offer spiritual care to every wounded warrior who comes through our facility. In most cases, patients usually stay here for 24-48 hours before being transported to Landstuhl Regional Medical Center in Germany. I am viewed by the medical staff and wounded warriors as the one who cares for their soul or their spiritual health and emotional well-being.


While in Afghanistan, Chaplain Brian Bohlman (right) met up with another CIU alumnus, Army chaplain, Major Michael Williams.

Do they trust you? Why do they come to you? Do you seek them out?

As a chaplain, my ministry philosophy involves building relationships with the people I serve alongside so that I can offer pastoral care and counseling to them when they go through a difficult time or crisis. In a matter of days after my arrival, I found myself counseling staff about how to better care for themselves after being exposed to injuries of severely wounded service members. Caring for the caregiver is crucial in a hospital setting – especially when located within a combat zone – and that is why I have several confidants back home to help me process what am I experiencing over here.

Are many of those you minister to "churched?" What is their view of God?

I have met hundreds of patients from a variety of religious faiths groups and denominations as well as a few atheists and agnostics. Many ask me to pray for them, their families, and especially the members of their unit that they left behind. Regardless of their faith or beliefs, I take time to listen to their personal stories of grief and pain and always thank them for the sacrifices they’ve made for the freedom of others as well as comfort those of Christian faith with Scripture, usually from the Psalms. My ministry model resembles that of Christ as he walked on the road to Emmaus with two grief-stricken men, asked them questions, took time to listen to their pain, and offered comfort from the Scriptures, and then disappeared from their sight (Luke 24). I may never again see the wounded warriors that I meet in this trauma hospital, but I will always remember them and treasure the opportunity to provide them with a ministry of presence, care, and hope.


Chaplain Brian Bohlman (center) with the night shift at the Craig Joint Theatre Hospital, Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan.

How did your CIU experience help you in the position you find yourself in today?

I have used the skills acquired in the various crisis counseling classes taken at CIU. I have also developed a relationship with CIU Professor of Chaplaincy Ministries and retired Navy Chaplain, Dr. Mike Langston. I hope to use my deployment experience to help CIU students in the new Master of Divinity chaplaincy track as they prepare to serve in the military as chaplains.


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Chaplain helps service members in tough times

by Geoff Folsom, The Marietta Daily Journal
Published on April 08, 2012
Editor's Note: Chaplain (MAJ) Olga Westfall is a CSC chaplain

The chaplain at Dobbins Air Reserve Base said Easter is an important time for many who serve.


Chaplain (MAJ) Olga Westfall

"It’s all about sacrifice," Major Olga Westfall said. "For all the service members of the Christian faith, this season is very special. We all have in common one of the values: The focus is on service before self."

Westfall, 43, leads services and counsels individuals for service members at the reserve base when they are there for drills. A former Army chaplain, her full-time job is chaplain at the Atlanta VA Medical Center.

"Both places are very, very big," she said of the VA hospital and Dobbins. "But it’s wonderful because it makes me feel fulfilled."

Serving as a religious leader in the U.S. military would have been hard to imagine for Westfall when she grew in Dnepropetrovsk, Ukraine, in what was then the Soviet Union. At the time, practicing religion was illegal in her country.

"I think God has a sense of humor to bring a female from Ukraine to be a chaplain in the United States military," she said. "I think it is amazing. It is beyond my wildest dreams."

While she is now married and living in Atlanta with her husband, Robert, and three children, two of whom were adopted from the Ukraine, Westfall said the job presents many challenges. Among the toughest is accompanying officers when they deliver the news of a service member who has died in combat to family members.

"We would bring the news nobody wants to hear," she said. "It’s hard. I still have the memories of the people I have notified about the husband, the son, who was killed."

But tough times can sometimes lead to the more rewarding outcomes, Westfall said.

"I love that we can encourage, inspire," she said. "I had a service member who would talk and talk and talk. She just wanted someone to hear. A lot of people have the answers; they just need someone to listen. That brings happiness to my heart."

Chief Master Sgt. Jeffrey Harold, a senior enlisted leader with the 80th Aerial Patrol Squadron at Dobbins, said between 20 and 30 members of the squadron attend a special church service at its training location each month.

"Chaplain Westfall has done a wonderful job bringing us a word from the Bible, and has also given us personal anecdotes that have really captured the attention of everyone in attendance," Harold said. "Several service members, like many in the country, have been facing troubling times, particularly given the economy. Chaplain Westfall has really made a difference by bringing relevant words of hope and encouragement."

Westfall also leads prayers at events on the base and elsewhere in the community. While she keeps her prayers nondenominational in front of mass gatherings, she is able to speak of Christ’s teachings during Protestant services.

"That’s what they expect," she said. "That’s what they want."


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CSC Chaplain Promoted

On December 6, 2011, Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches' Chaplain (COL) Kevin R. Turner, US Army Reserve, was promoted to Brigadier General at Fort Bragg, NC. Chaplain (BG) Turner is now the Assistant Chief of Chaplains for Mobilization and Readiness. The photo is the pinning on of Chaplain Turner's stars by Chaplain (MG) Donald Rutherford, Army Chief of Chaplains, and by Lara Turner, his wife (and mother of their two precious girls!).

As you can see, Chaplain Turner is a down-to-earth family man, with a lot on his shoulders!

Our prayers and blessings are with Kevin that he make a difference to the Chaplain Corps, and we are convinced that with the Lord's help, he will!

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:


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CSC Chaplain Invites Combat Stress Dog to Evening Service

From the Facebook Page of the 401st Army Field Support Brigade
Editor's Note: Chaplain Baccich is a Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches Army Reserve deployed to Afghanistan, assigned to the 401st Army Field Support Brigade


Chaplain (Maj.) Edward R. Baccich, 401st AFSB chaplain, invited a special guest to his Sunday evening contemporary service. Maj. Timmy, a combat stress dog, and his handler Capt. Christine E. Beck joined the congregation. Major Timmy played catch with the chaplain and other members of the congregation and made a lot of new friends in the process.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:


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CSC Chaplain Ministering to the Troops

by Mark Albert, KSTP.com
Published on September 7, 2011
Editor's Note: Chaplain Brad Cedergren is a CSC Chaplain.


photo by Chris Hansen
Soldiers of the Minnesota National Guard's 1-194 Armor Battalion pray before leaving on a resupply convoy into Iraq on September 6, 2011.

5 EYEWITNESS NEWS reporter Mark Albert and photojournalist Chris Hansen embedded for most of September with the Minnesota National Guard in Iraq and Kuwait. The 2,400 soldiers from hundreds of Minnesota communities are in charge of providing security convoys to 46,000 withdrawing American troops and to protect bases in Kuwait where they will stage before the trip home.

With them is CSC Chaplain Brad Cedergren, ministering to the troops. Please keep him and all US Troops in your prayers!

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:


photo by Chris Hansen
Chaplain Brad Cedergren, of Albertville, delivers a sermon on Sunday, Sept. 4, 2011, inside the cavernous chapel at Camp Virginia in Kuwait.


photo by Chris Hansen
Chaplain Brad Cedergren preaches during Sunday night services on Sept. 4, 2011.


photo by Chris Hansen
Chaplain Brad Cedergren offers communion to soldiers at Camp Virginia during a service on Sept. 4, 2011.


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Soldier Surprises Family During Halftime

by Lauren Squires, WOWT.com
Published on Friday, Aug 26, 2011
Editor's Note: Chaplain John Heatley is a just-returned CSC Chaplain who was injured in Afganistan.

Omaha, NE — There are some things you just can't put into words. One of those is watching a soldier surprise his family after being deployed.

Friday night after the halftime show at Bellevue West's football game, the Heatley family was called down to the field for a special prize, which turned out to be a surprise homecoming from their dad, Chaplain John Heatley.

"It's been a long, hard time," said Heatley. "I got injured while I was in Afghanistan. My unit returned a month ago. It’s just great to be back and spend time with my family."

"I'm still shaking and I'm so excited and glad to have him home," Jean Heatley said.


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CSC Chaplain Candidate: Training was an Incredible Experience

August, 2011
Editor's Note: Air Force Chaplain Candidate Matthew Hanzelka is endorsed with The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches.


Air Force Chaplain Candidate Matthew Hanzelka prepares to take to the air at the Air Force Academy in Colorado Springs.

Air Force Chaplain Candidate Matthew Hanzelka has just finished his 35-day training tour at the Air Forece Academy, Colorado Springs, CO.

"My training was an incredible experience," says Hanzelka. "Fortunately, I was selected to train at the Air Force Academy in Colorado; the staff there gave me an incredible amount of mentoring and responsibility during my 35 day tour."

Hanzelka worked primarily with the 1100 basic cadets going through their 5 week Basic Cadet Training.

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:


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CSC Chaplain Featured in Post Paper

The Fort Gordon Signal, Chaplain's Corner Spotlight
Published July 2011
Editor's Note: Chaplain (CPT) Javon Seaborn is a CSC chaplain

At the Bicentennial Chapel liturgical worship service the worship is spirit-filled, liturgical and biblically orthodox (Three Streams Charismatic, Liturgical, and Evangelical). Our services reflect our appreciation for the best of both contemporary and traditional worship, based on the Anglican Book of Common Prayer Holy Communion Liturgy.


Chaplain (CPT) Javon Seaborn reads from a passage in the Bible during Sunday worship at Fort Gordon. Courtesy Photo

At the heart of worship lies an encounter with Jesus through the Eucharist and a desire to see hearts healed and restored as we journey towards the point of Communion.

The gifts of the Holy Spirit are welcomed and encouraged at all times, sometimes overflowing into, harmonizing and also taking control of the liturgy. Times of healing ministry are always available during and after the service.

We are committed to ensuring that all of the people who attend the Bicentennial Chapel liturgical worship service have a genuine worship experience, providing special opportunities for them to understand and participate in the liturgy.

Music is at the heart of our worship and is a blend of traditional and contemporary styles, enhanced with multimedia presentations.

We hope you come out and join us in celebrating Holy Eucharist and fellowshipping with me and my wife (Seaborn and his wife Virginia) and the parishioners of Bicentennial Chapel.

Seaborn has been married over 17 years and has been in ministry for 15 years. He has planted five different churches in various denominations and they have all grown to signifi- cant sizes. He is an ordained Anglican Priest that grew up in the Pentecostal church and his reflection of liturgy is energetic and expressive. Seaborn and his wife Virginia are both from Miami, Fla., and their flavor of ministry reflects that of multicultural diversity of South Florida and his Jamaican heritage.


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Chaplain Candidate Denise Webb at C.A.S.T. — Orlando June 2011

Operation Safety 91
Published Thursday, June 16, 2011
Editor's Note: Chaplain Candidate (2LT) Denise Webb is affiliated with CSC

Orlando's Rosen Centre was the host Hotel of The U.S. Army's Area IV Chaplaincy Annual Sustainment Training, June 13 - 16, 2011. Operation Safety 91 was honored to be with C.A.S.T. for the first time as a Vendor, making available free of charge our Psalm 91 Cards. We can not put in words how very appreciative these Chaplains were to receive these resources from OS91.


Making friends with Chaplain Candidate (2LT) Denise Webb who is under the umbrella of Coalition of Spirit Filled Churches

Since September of 2008, OS91 has partnered with the 1687 Foundation, to get their free edition of the book Psalm 91, God's Shield of Protection, for Military by Peggy Joyce Ruth into the hands of Responders, including the Army. It was such a treat to see Renee Wilson of the 1687 Foundation again at C.A.S.T., giving out all their free resources.

CH (CPT) Hyun Ha has received an award for his Chaplaincy work and will not only be distributing thousands of Psalm 91 cards, but really appreciated the OS91 logo on decal.

Together with these devoted Army Chaplains, Chaplain Assistants, and Chaplain Candidates, OS91 will reach thousands and thousands of Army soldiers with God's Covenant of Protection, Psalm 91. A big Thank You to CH (LTC) Anthony P. Clark, JFHQ-FL State Chaplain of the Florida National Guard and CH (LTC) Brain Ray, 143RD ESC Chaplain for connecting OS91 with C.A.S.T. And Chaplain Tony, thank you for arranging time for Mary to speak to your group personally about OS91!

We love and appreciate the Armed Forces with their Chaplains so much! Thank you for your service! OS91 prays for you daily.


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CSC Chaplain Profiled

May 2011
Editor's Note: Chaplain (MAJ) Ephraim Garcia is endorsed with The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches.

During the "New Comers" brief, I met Chaplain Garcia who also had just arrived at ISAF. We immediately connected and made a friendship. We both ran the 5K "fun run" and later saw each other at the Memorial Day picnic. He is full of life and full of stories - what a hoot!


Chaplain (Maj.) Ephraim Garcia at the Memorial Day 2011 services at The Destille Gardens, Afghanistan.

A short Puerto Rican American with a twinkle in his eye and a fire in his belly. He is on fire for God and loves his new assignment. This is his first tour as an Army Chaplain since he recently completed his seminary course work, having taken classes at night for the past eight years.

He too is a mobilized reservist. In the civilian world, he serves as a minister of a church in Staten Island, New York, not far from where he grew up in Brooklyn, NY.

As a bi-vocational minister, he is also employed as a NYS Court Officer at Brooklyn Criminal Court. He knows all about the behavior of teenagers and their involvement in gangs. He can readily identify with the difficulty of teaching youth in our country.

On his last deployment in 2007, he had served as a Coast Guard Hazardous Material (HAZMAT) Inspector.

His wife of 27 years is back home manning the home front and very involved with their church. In fact, she even preached a sermon at their church his first Sunday here at ISAF. Pleasantly surprised and proud of his wife, he laughingly shared: "My wife has never preached a sermon before, but now she waits until I leave home to do so!"

He comes from a Pentecostal background, and adjusts his spiritual enthusiasm and charismatic style to match his audiences. Since I attend both the traditional Protestant and the Inspirational or Gospel Rock Services, there is a marked difference in this presentation style. Not only does the Inspirational Service run a half hour longer since he draws energy from those gathered and shares more stories, but his sense of humor comes out profusely. I laughed so much Sunday evening listening to him preach that I was wondering if I was even in a church service (grin).

It was all good stuff - lets just say that he knows human nature very well. He is a fine preacher and really loves the Lord. His last name of Garcia is Hispanic so I was curious if he had any Catholic background, and asked him. He smiled and said, "It's funny that you asked, because many people have asked the same question. In fact, when I first showed up in Kabul, they saw my name and immediately exclaimed, 'You must be the priest that we have been waiting for!'"

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:


Chaplain Garcia with Chaplain Office Support Staff

Memorial Day Invocation

Chaplain Garcia coordinates service details

Set for Traditional Service

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CSC Chaplain Nominated for Promotion

May 25, 2011
Editor's Note: Chaplain Kevin Turner (Col.) is endorsed with The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches.

U.S. Department of Defense, Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense (Public Affairs) — Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches chaplain, Army Reserve Col. Kevin R. Turner has been nominated by President Obama for promotion to the rank of brigadier general and for assignment as assistant chief of chaplains, mobilization and readiness, Office of the Chief of Chaplains, Washington, D.C. Turner is currently assigned to the control group (reinforcement), Saint Louis, Mo.

The nomination announcement was made by Secretary of Defense Robert M. Gates on May 25, 2011.


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Interview with Chaplain (MAJ) Leo Mora, A CSC Active Duty Army Chaplain

by SGT Dani Rhoads
Producing Unit 20th PAD
Headquarters and Headquarters Company 555th Engineer Brigrade, FT Lewis, Washington
Created: May 23, 2011
Editor's Note: Chaplain Leo Mora is a CSC active duty Army Chaplain.


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Services, sacrifice at Easter

by Joseph Morton, Omaha World-Herald Staff Writer
Published on Sunday, April 24, 2011
Editor's Note: Chaplain (CPT) John Heatley is deployed and is the chaplain for the 1-134th CAV and Camp Dubs & Julien.

CAMP PHOENIX, Afghanistan — The pastor wears combat boots, the Bibles sport camouflage-pattern covers and the rack for assault rifles stands just inside the chapel door.


Photo credit Alyssa Schukar/The Omaha World-Herald
Lt. Col. Matthew Pawlikowski, a chaplain at Camp Phoenix in Kabul, Afghanistan, reads Scripture on Palm Sunday. Several chaplains at the camp were to lead Easter services.

The stained-glass windows? Those are plexiglass and colored contact paper.

This is Easter in a war zone at the Camp Phoenix Chapel.

Most of the 300-plus soldiers in the Nebraska Guard's 1-134th Cavalry Squadron are deployed to this base on the east side of Kabul. And thousands of other Nebraskans and Iowans are deployed throughout the Islamic Republic of Afghanistan — troops who could easily find themselves walking to an Easter service today hearing the Muslim call to prayer in the background.

There is never a good time to be so far from home, but the Easter season underscores the separation, as loved ones back in the Midlands color eggs, head to services at their own churches and gather for family meals.

Maj. Daniel Williams, the Nebraska squadron's executive officer, attended one of the Palm Sunday services at the chapel. His 2-year-old son and 4-year-old daughter were going to the Easter egg hunt Saturday in La Vista, but their dad wasn't there for it.

The Easter season highlights the sacrifices being asked of troops' families, he said.

"Like other holidays and traditions in the family, it's a reminder that you're not there to sort of take charge, set things up, enjoy the fellowship," he said. "You're asking your spouse to do everything for you. Not just taking care of the kids but marking the holiday in some special way — whether they're painting eggs or hiding them in the bushes, or just being there to take pictures."

At the same time, Williams said, the deployment has helped renew and inspire him through his Afghan interpreter, who goes by the name of Paul. He converted to Christianity in 2007, and the two attend church services together nearly every Sunday.

Paul sings the hymns in English, his fourth language. The 38-year-old from Kabul knows that the potential penalty for converting to Christianity in this country is execution. His family knows he has converted, but he looks over his shoulder in fear that he might be discovered by others.

He had a close call at a Christmas Eve candlelight service when he noticed at the last minute that Afghan television camera crews had shown up. He ditched his candle and sat at the back of the service. They went back later for the midnight service so Paul could join in the singing and praying.

He hopes one day to move to America and attend church with Williams.

"I will have my freedom," Paul said.

Williams said his interpreter's situation illustrates the gulf that persists in the liberties available to those in the United States and in many other parts of the world.

Several chaplains at Camp Phoenix will lead today's Easter services. The soldiers will hear how the followers of Christ cannot be separated from the Lord — by a failed marriage, by sickness, even by war.

The squadron's chaplain, Capt. John Heatley, is assigned to a smaller group from the 1-134th, down the road in southwest Kabul at Camp Dubs.

Heatley planned to hold 14 services across 11 days to mark Holy Week.

"It's really the most significant holiday of the religious year," Heatley said.

During his sermon today, he plans to talk about what the holiday is really about: the Resurrection of Jesus. He will also talk about events affecting the soldiers here, such as a recent attack on the front gate at Camp Phoenix.

The service helps to provide troops far from home with a sense of tradition, he said — an oasis from the trials and tribulations of an overseas deployment. Heatley tries to make the chapel at Dubs just such an oasis. The chapel has comfy couches. Heatley's assistant takes his coffee seriously and serves only freshly ground, high-end stuff.

"The whole point of that is to have someplace where people could go to unwind," he said.

Getting soldiers to attend services overseas can be a challenge, he said. One reason is that while a church service is a comfort to some, to others it's a reminder that they aren't home.

Also, in Afghanistan, Fridays are the holy days that everyone takes off from work. Sundays are regular workdays, and many soldiers have missions.

The Nebraskans are closely tied to that local work schedule because they work as mentors with Afghan security forces and help to establish development projects, where they need to meet with local officials and contractors.

That means Fridays are when they are most likely to be free. So Heatley holds services on Fridays. He also holds impromptu services with only a couple of soldiers, or even one, if the desire and opportunity are there.

The Iowa soldiers at nearby Bagram Air Field can catch services at several locations around the base, including the Enduring Freedom Chapel.

Capt. Kyle Obrecht of Council Bluffs, commander of the Headquarters and Headquarters Troop of the Iowa Guard's 1-113th Cavalry Squadron, attends services at that chapel.

"Deployment is that time I use to fix myself," he said. "Here, we're not drinking, we're not going out and doing other things."

He said Easter is a particularly special time.

"With it being a family holiday traditionally, it is a little more tough to celebrate from here," he said.

Sgt. Timothy VanLaningham of Dunbar, Neb., who's based at Camp Phoenix, said if it weren't for the deployment, he would likely be coloring Easter eggs with his 3-year-old daughter and having dinner with extended family.

"It's sad because I'm missing it," he said.

VanLaningham said he appreciates the opportunity to attend services on deployment. He's a correctional officer back in Nebraska and typically has to work on Sundays.

He said church is even more important on deployment because of the uncertain security that soldiers face.

"You never know," he said, "what's going to happen."

— — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — — —

A cup of cold water [or a decent cup of java!], in the name of the Lord....

Produced by Sgt. Sarah Goss
Editor's Note: The following video clip features Chaplain Heatley's Chaplain Assistant.

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CSC Chaplain Honored at Buffalo Soldiers 11th Annual 2011 Gala

Friday, February 18, 2011
Editor's Note: Chaplain (CPT) Sharon Brown is a CSC Chaplain


Chaplain Sharon Brown

On February 18th the Buffalo Soldiers National Museum honored the ministry of Chaplains of the U.S. Armed Forces at its annual Gala. The Gala's theme was "Honoring Our Military Chaplains."

Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches chaplain, Captain Sharon Brown, was one of three honorees at the Gala event. Chaplain Brown is currently serving as the Battalion Chaplain for the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Cavalry Division at Ft. Hood, TX.

For more information on the gala please download the Gala PDF here.

For more information on Chaplain Brown, please visit her bio at http://wisemancompany.com/BSMbio.html and scroll down to the "honorees" section.


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Chaplain urges military spouses to avoid 'compassion fatigue'

by Donna Miles, American Forces Press Service
Published on Wednesday, Nov 24, 2010
Editor's Note: Chaplain (MAJ) Stan Arnold is the Army Family Life Chaplain at Ft Campbell and he is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist.

FORT CAMPBELL, Ky., Nov. 23, 2010 -- With almost all the 101st Airborne Division deployed to Afghanistan, military spouses here have their hands full taking care of each other.


Photo credit Donna Miles
Maj. Stanley Arnold, family life chaplain at Fort Campbell, Ky., is working with Karin Jenkins (center), wife of Col. Sean Jenkins, commander of 4th Brigade Combat Team, and Rebecca Santos (right), wife of Command Sgt. Maj. Hector Santos, the brigade sergeant major, to identify and address compassion fatigue among spouse volunteers.

Day in and day out, they're called on to help a suddenly-single parent juggle work, kids and household chores, and set aside time to visit with the lonely wife who needs a friend. Too often, they find themselves consoling a widow who has just learned of her husband's death as they quietly wonder if they'll be the next to receive that dreaded knock on the door.

Maj. Stanley Arnold, a family life chaplain here, praised the outpouring of family support that's become a hallmark of the 101st Airborne Division's "Screaming Eagles" and nearly every other military organization.

But he's also concerned he's seeing signs of "compassion fatigue," with spouses already laden with their own responsibilities and burdens giving so much of themselves that there's sometimes little left to draw on.

Arnold met last week with spouses of the division's 4th Brigade Combat Team leaders, encouraging them to recognize signs of compassion fatigue in themselves and each other, and emphasizing the need to take time out to recharge their emotional batteries.

Last week's session was the first of an ongoing process Arnold plans to conduct with family leaders throughout the 101st Airborne Division as their loved ones serve in Afghanistan. He's hoping the message will resonate beyond the Kentucky bluegrass, and strike a chord with military families everywhere struggling to be all things to all people as they deal with their own deployment-related issues.

"You see it in all the brigades, people who are stepping up and helping each other, bringing meals, being there and walking with spouses and families" through the difficult times of the deployment, Arnold said.

Never is this support more important, or more emotionally and physically draining for the one providing it, than when it's for a family who has just lost a love one in combat, he said.

That's when caregivers are particularly likely to experience what Arnold calls "secondary trauma." As they grieve with the family and share in its loss, they also know that their own loved one is serving in the same combat zone, facing the same circumstances and even walking the same bomb-laden roads as their fallen comrade, he explained.

"These spouses are really in a unique place," Arnold said. "They are back here, dealing with the families of our fallen Soldiers, and at the same time, dealing with the day-to-day ups and downs of being that single parent, with their spouse deployed in a combat zone and never knowing whether that knock on the door is for them."

"That places them in a very, very difficult position," he continued. "When they walk with these other families through their grief they are having to face daily the possibility of their own grief."

As the Fort Campbell community rallies time after time again to support each other in the face of combat losses, Arnold said he's seeing troubling signs of compassion fatigue.

"I am seeing the withdrawal, the symptoms of depression, the loss of energy, the change in sleep patterns, irritability, those types of things," he said. "You don't want to watch the news because you are afraid of hearing about another Soldier getting hurt or injured, and you think, 'That could be my knock on the door.'"

Karin Jenkins, wife of the Army Col. Sean Jenkins, the 4th BCT commander, recognizes the signs all too well, particularly among Family Readiness Group volunteers who dig ever-deeper into their own physical and emotional reservoirs to help brigade families.

"We have incredible, caring, loving Family Readiness Group leaders. Why else would you step into a volunteer position that is 24 hours a day, seven days a week for a year or more?" she said. "They want to help. They love to help. That is their calling."

"And because they are so caring, it is hard for them to say 'no' to another human being," Jenkins continued. "They will say 'yes' many times, and many times a day and many times a week, and they are still taking care of themselves and their families and saying 'yes.'"

But as Arnold explained to Jenkins and other senior leaders' spouses, it's not only okay to say "no" and defer to someone else to help - sometimes it's critical.

"What I've learned over time is the importance of taking care of 'me,'" he said. "If I don't take care of me, then I become unable to perform the job that I need to. And if these spouses don't take care of themselves, then they are going to be unable to care for their families and their Soldiers."

Arnold suggested various ways spouses can break the cycle the leads to compassion fatigue. They can take a few minutes to meditate, sneak off into a corner to read a book, soak in a bathtub, meet their "battle buddy" for coffee, whatever helps them relax and reenergize.

Most importantly, he said, they have to be honest about what demands they can and can't carry, and recognize when it's time to step aside so another volunteer can step up to the plate.

"It is really about dialogue," Arnold said. "There are some people who, as the caregiver, feel that it's really not acceptable to talk about what is going on inside themselves. They feel that they have to put on a tough face and pretend that everything is okay. But that doesn't work."

"My hope as I work with the brigades and the Family Readiness Group senior leaders is for them to recognize the toll this is taking on them," he said. "I want them to understand that they need to take care of themselves, because they are being asked to walk into these situations again and again and again."


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HELPING SOLDIERS

By Elissa Dickey
from Aberdeen American News
Published on Tuesday, May 04, 2010
Editor's Note: CH (CPT) Stacy Kervin is an Active Duty Army Chaplain and licensed professional counselor serving in Iraq and is endorsed by The Coalition of Spirit-filled Churches.

When soldiers battling the horrors of war reach their breaking point, they turn to people like Capt. Stacie Kervin.


Capt. Stacie Kervin, a chaplain with the U.S. Army and an Aberdeen native now living in Texas, is helping soldiers cope with war in Iraq. She is shown here at her deployment ceremony with her son, Evan, 4. (Photo courtesy of the Killeen (Tex.) Daily Herald/Photographer Catrina Rawson)

When soldiers battling the horrors of war reach their breaking point, they turn to people like Capt. Stacie Kervin.

"They've basically reached their last limit," said Kervin, an Army chaplain and Aberdeen (South Dakota) native.

Kervin, 31, is serving in Iraq with the 85th Medical Detachment, a combat stress control team that provides counseling to soldiers dealing with combat stress. The team will be in Iraq for a year.

Kervin went on active duty in February after eight years in the Army Reserves. Her deployment happened quickly - March 28 - but she said it was as if God was telling her: "You're ready."

Already, Kervin's unit has dealt with an explosion involving six soldiers; two died.

"That was my second day here," said Kervin, a 1997 Central High School graduate.

Soldiers and suicide

Some soldiers who come to Kervin for help are suicidal. Suicides among veterans of Iraq and Afghanistan have plagued the military, with the Army seeing a record number last year, according to a Time Magazine report. Last year, 160 active-duty soldiers killed themselves, up from 140 in 2008 and 77 in 2003, according to a separate Time report (time.com).

Kervin said she knows how to deal with this difficult topic - how to ask the right questions- because she's been through it. Her brother, Kevin Janish, who she said was struggling with depression, committed suicide eight years ago, she said. That's partly what prompted her to be a military chaplain.

Now, she said, she helps soldiers process their trauma and get better.

"That's the greatest thing when you can turn someone's life around," she said.

Intensity levels

Combat stress units are intense, she said. When the stress gets to her or another member of her team, which includes social workers and chaplains, they lean on each other.

But Kervin said she dealt with similar situations during internships, including at Walter Reed Hospital. She's gotten used to it, so it doesn't affect her as much.

But there are still times where it does affect her, including when a soldier is injured.

"They're like a brother or sister," she said.

But, she added, "It kind of makes you realize what's important in life," to value family and relationships.

Family ties

Being away from her family - husband, Michael, also an Aberdeen native; and son, Evan, 4 - is difficult. But they talk via Skype (this allows users to make video and voice calls over the Internet), which she said is an amazing communication tool.

Kervin said her son never really cried when she left.

Instead, she said, he told her, "Mommy, you go fight the bad guys, and I love you and I'm going to be a chaplain like you."

Kervin said her mom and dad, Ron and Joanie Janish of Aberdeen, as well as other family members, know she is supposed to be doing what she's doing. It's her calling.

So she doesn't worry about her own safety - she said she feels a sort of supernatural protection.

Said Kervin, "When you're supposed to do what God calls you to do, you've got this protection."


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Chaplain David Plummer: Where Faith and Healing Converge

Interview by Brenda H. Welch
from The Health Journal
Editor's Note: Dave Plummer is also a full-time, operational hospital chaplain and was profiled recently in a healthcare newspaper.

Chaplain David Plummer is a man driven by his devotion to God, to his family and friends and to every patient he comes in contact with as the team coordinator of Sentara CarePlex Hospital’s Chaplaincy Services Department. The department, which also serves Port Warwick Medical Arts in Newport News, is composed of over 30 volunteer clergy (both scheduled and on-call), five associate chaplains, as well as students from two seminaries and two graduate schools of psychology and counseling.


(Photo by Brian M. Freer)

Plummer began his career in chaplaincy as a volunteer nursing home chaplain in 1980. After serving in health care, correctional and military settings, he joined Sentara in 1999. There he immersed himself in the study of biomedical ethics (the philosophical study of the ethical controversies in health care settings), and in 2000, he completed a fellowship at the University of Virginia’s Center for Biomedical Ethics. Today he serves as an ethics consultant to Sentara physicians at CarePlex as well as Port Warwick Medical Arts. He is co-chair of the hospital’s ethics committee as well as the research ethics consultant for the Sentara Center for Healthcare Ethics, which analyzes the moral and ethical questions confronting health care today. Plummer is also active with the Eastern Virginia Medical School Institutional Review Board, a committee charged with protecting the rights and welfare of research participants.

"Growing up, we were in church on Sundays, attended Sunday school beforehand and also Wednesday night Bible study. It was the classic church experience where afterwards we would get together with family and friends to eat and enjoy each other’s company."

In addition, he is responsible for clinical supervision of master’s degree practicum (first-year) students and interns (second-year students) at both the Regent University School of Psychology and Counseling and the Old Dominion University School of Psychology. Plummer is also pursuing a Doctor of Ministry degree with an emphasis on pastoral care and counseling at Regent University.

In a recent phone interview with The Health Journal, Plummer, who is also a licensed marriage and family therapist, discussed religion, ethics, laughter and tears, and the roles these play in today’s health care environment.

HJ: What life events led you to become a chaplain?
DP: I really enjoy interacting with people and care about their struggles. I come from a religious background, and so it just seemed to be a natural fit. On a deeper level, there was a sensing by my inner person that this was what I was supposed to do.

HJ: Did you attend a house of worship throughout your childhood?
DP: My folks come from an evangelical background. Growing up, we were in church on Sundays, attended Sunday school beforehand and also Wednesday night Bible study. It was the classic church experience where afterwards we would get together with family and friends to eat and enjoy each other’s company. But even though I did all that, and would listen to and appreciate the Bible’s stories, up until my teens I was an agnostic. Later, through a number of events, I became convinced of God’s presence and his love for me and other people. That was my motivation to enter into chaplaincy.

HJ: What part of your job do you struggle with emotionally?
DP: The hardest part for me is when babies are brought into the Emergency Department and are not breathing and are unresponsive, and in fact, die. We have a number of SIDS deaths in the community, and from time to time we see abuse cases of babies and little children. As a dad, well, I instinctively think of my own child. I guess all the feelings associated with that kick in.

HJ: What part of your job brings you the most joy?
DP: My joy comes from talking with people and working with them. I experience it watching people in spiritual or emotional stress or duress come to a position of acceptance, where they are not in continuous turmoil over their circumstances or situation — that’s very satisfying.

HJ: What makes you cry?
DP: It’s hard to get me to cry, but when I do it is generally not a wailing cry, but tears of joy when I see something that is awesome and holy. To see a person achieve something or show tenderness to someone else, or when perhaps someone has made a personal breakthrough — that makes me tear up.

HJ: What makes you laugh?
DP: Spending time with my daughter. She has a wonderful sense of humor. Seeing her and hearing her comments—she just makes me laugh. She is the joy of my life.

HJ: What frustrates and/or angers you?
DP: Injustice, and when I see people being manipulated. In life, there are some very strong personalities—people who are used to getting their way and want to run roughshod over the values or wishes of others. I often see families who are very conflicted with one another about what the extent of treatment should be for Mom, Dad, Aunt Gertrude, whomever. Because of my experience with this, I cannot stress enough the importance of everyone having an advance directive, which is also called an advance medical directive. It’s a way for people to express to their physicians, the hospital and ultimately their family and friends what their wishes are if they are not able to speak for themselves.

HJ: Tell us about the role of ethics in medicine.
DP: The whole concept of ethics is doing the right thing by the patient. We need to make sure that the decisions that are made for patients who are not able to speak for themselves are in their best interest. On the research end, we need to make sure that if patients are given the opportunity to participate in a medical research study, the patient fully understands the benefits as well as the risks involved. We also need to minimize the risk to patients as much as possible. All patients deserve the best and safest health care available.


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Medical Aid for Farah

Produced By Sgt Kirk Wilson
from 316th ESC PAO
Editor's Note: Chaplain (MAJ) Quentin Collins is now safely back in the USA.

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Chaplains salute each of the fallen

By Sharon Cohen, AP National Writer
from Yahoo! News
Editor's Note: Chaplain Jesus Perez is a CSC Chaplain

Chaplain Kevin Wainwright was preparing his Easter Sunday sermon in Iraq when there was a knock on his door.


(AP Photo/LM Otero)
Army Chaplain Chaplain Jesus Perez pauses while talking about soldiers killed in Iraq during a tour of the chaplains offices at Fort Hood, Texas, Friday, Feb. 22, 2008.

The news was grim: 1st Lt. Phillip Neel was dead. The young officer and fellow West Point grad had been a regular at the chaplain's Sunday church services. Wainwright knew and admired him. Now he had to find the right words to honor him.

Wainwright chose the legend of Sir Galahad, King Arthur's noble knight, and the poetry of Alfred, Lord Tennyson to salute Neel in a memorial.

He spoke of his compassion, his devotion to his soldiers. But in trying to understand Neel's death, the chaplain also posed an agonizing question: "Why does it seem that the good guys are the first ones to fall?"

On Easter night, the sad milestone of 4,000 American deaths in the Iraq war was reached with an announcement by the U.S. military that four U.S. soldiers had been killed in a roadside bombing in Baghdad.

As the toll approached 4,000, Wainwright and hundreds of other military chaplains in Iraq and across America wrestled with hard questions constantly. These are the men and women who pray with the mortally wounded, who administer last rites on bomb-scarred roads, who sit at kitchen tables with grieving families back home.

Army chaplains such as Wainwright have been especially busy: Almost three-fourths of those who have died in Iraq were in the Army. Of the total lost in all services, more than 30 were just 18 years old; about 80 were older than 45, according to the military. Nearly 100 were women. A quarter of those who died were from just three states: California, Texas and New York.

But for every number, there is a name, and for every name, a husband or son, wife or daughter whose life is remembered, often by a chaplain.

"I'm the guy who knows all their stories," Wainwright says. "Of all the people in the battalion, the chaplain is the one who should know a little about everybody."

In 14 months in Iraq, Wainwright comforted countless grieving soldiers, composed handwritten notes to families and conducted memorials, including one for Neel held last year at a concrete-barricaded chapel.

"I remember them all," he says.

Military chaplains don't carry weapons, don't engage in combat, and yet they know as well as any the human cost of war.

Here are four of their stories:

———

When Kevin Wainwright arrived in Iraq in October 2006, it was his second deployment — he had served with the North Carolina National Guard two years earlier. This time he shipped out from Fort Hood, Texas.

The Army captain knew what the dangers were, but he was optimistic.

"I think we all go over there believing ... we're going to be that battalion that doesn't lose anyone," Wainwright says.

That didn't happen.

Of the deaths in Iraq, more than 1 in 10 have come from sprawling Fort Hood, including some very personal losses for the chaplain: One was an airman he had given Communion to days before he was killed, one a soldier he had accompanied on patrol, another he had joined for dinner.

Wainwright was familiar with the rhythms of life and death as a Presbyterian minister serving churches in Wisconsin and the Carolinas. But war was different. "It's personal," he says. "They WANT to kill you."

And each soldier's death, Wainwright says, took a toll. "As a chaplain," he says, "you lose part of yourself that you're never going to get back."

As chaplain for the 3rd Battalion, 8th Cavalry Regiment, Wainwright, 38, sometimes joined soldiers on patrols. He also tended to the injured.

He was there to tell one wounded soldier after he regained consciousness that five of his comrades had died. Wainwright sat with him for hours, then gently told the survivor: "I'm glad you made it and you're here."

He also was there to clutch the wrist of another soldier dying from shrapnel wounds to the head. He prayed in a circle with his friends, then stepped aside so everyone could say goodbye.

Amid so much death, Wainwright remained steadfast in his beliefs.

"My faith is not a stack of cards — it's rock solid," he says. "That doesn't mean I didn't grieve and think this guy is never going to know what it's like to be married or be a father. ... It hits home, too. You have those fears yourself. What would a loss be like for your own family? But if you dwell on that, it makes you less effective as a chaplain."

Wainwright smiles as he recalls the time he had some unexpected help soothing souls.

One day, he was trying to counsel a soldier when Eddie, a bomb-sniffing dog with a pitiful look, walked by. The distressed soldier petted the golden Labrador and instantly brightened.

"I was trying to come up with some theologically significant interpretation of a life crisis," Wainwright says, "but that dog did more ministry in 10 seconds that I could do in a month."

———

Sometimes he arrived by foot, other times by helicopter, but Chaplain Jesus Perez always had the same feeling when he visited a morgue in Iraq.

"I had this sensation of emptiness," he says. "The place is so cold, even colder than you expect. You're losing somebody you probably know, or at least a brother in arms. But when you're there with your commander and rendering honor to the soldier who died, it's a solemn moment in the life of everyone in that room."

In 14 months, the Fort Hood chaplain prayed over 56 fallen soldiers.

After the salutes and prayers were over, Perez, 43, always lingered behind.

"I'd wait for everybody to leave, then I'd cry like a baby," he says. "I tried not to show my emotions in front of the other soldiers. I wanted to be strong for them. But when I was by myself, I cried. ... That was my way of coping with the situation."

As chaplain for the Army's 3rd Brigade Special Troops Battalion, 1st Cavalry Division, Perez conducted several memorial ceremonies. He comforted the survivors, then took care of himself by talking with another chaplain or counselor.

"I had to protect myself from burnout," he says. "There comes a time after you hear so many are dead, you become frustrated, there's some anger. You ask yourself: 'When is this going to end?'"

But nothing he saw, he says, tested his faith.

"I believe God has his reasons," says Perez, who is a Messianic Jew. "Who am I to ask why? I know a lot of people have that question. I don't have that answer obviously. Since I don't have the answer, I don't even ask it."

In February, Perez received a poster he had ordered in Iraq that includes the names of 110 soldiers lost in his brigade. He plans to have it framed.

"It will go with me everywhere I go," he says. "It will go with me if I go back to Iraq. Some people may forget their names, but not this chaplain."

———

The Rev. David Sivret still lives with nightmares, headaches and memories of his brush with a suicide bomber.

The Maine Army National Guard chaplain was severely injured in the Dec. 21, 2004, attack at a mess hall in Mosul, Iraq, that killed 22 people and wounded dozens more.

Sivret has vivid memories of the day: sitting down for a roast beef lunch, saying grace, seeing a bright flash, waking up on the floor — having been thrown 10 to 20 feet — next to a soldier dying of catastrophic head injuries.

"That's one of those dreams that haunts me," he says. "The floor was slippery with residue and blood. People were screaming and hollering."

Sivret managed to stand, but he couldn't hear. He shouted some angry words — language, he says, "unbecoming a chaplain" — then collected himself and began praying with the wounded sprawled on the floor or on tables converted into stretchers.

The chaplain moved outside, unzipping body bags to examine dog tags, performing last rites to those who were Christian.

"I was running on adrenaline," he says. "I had a wicked headache. My left knee was shattered. My ribs were broken."

But Sivret didn't let on, fearing he'd be hospitalized. "I wasn't going to leave them," he says. "They were my soldiers."

National Guard members have accounted for 10 percent of the U.S. deaths in Iraq, including three men from Sivret's unit, two of whom were killed in that blast.

One was Sgt. Lynn Poulin Sr. The chaplain had celebrated his marriage in Maine.

The other was Spc. Thomas Dostie, whose parents had been Sivret's classmates, prompting the Guardsman to teasingly tell the chaplain: "'I know what you were like in high school.'"

Sivret presided at a memorial for the two, breaking down outside before he spoke.

He remained in Iraq a few more months, constantly encouraging the soldiers, telling them they were doing good. "I was trying to give them perspective and hope," he says. "You have to build them up because they have to go back out there again."

Sivret, now 52, returned to being the parish priest at St. Anne's Episcopal Church in Calais, Maine, where Guard soldiers occasionally visit.

Sivret's hearing has returned and his ribs have healed, but the war remains part of his life.

In December, he accompanied a master sergeant to notify a family of a soldier's death. Seeing the father's pained face, knowing the death occurred in Mosul — the city where Sivret was injured — brought back a flood of memories.

"It stays with me," Sivret says. "You change. You're never the same."

———

Chaplain Irvine Bryer faced death before, 40 years ago in another war — in Vietnam.

The skinny kid who survived the jungles returned to a desert battlefield as a grandfather — and Army Reserve chaplain for the 3rd Medical Command.

In Iraq, Bryer dodged mortars, rockets and shots fired at his helicopter.

Still, he says, "Never did I feel there was anything to fear. There is a season for everything under the sun. That's what Ecclesiastes says. ...I take that now and have a for long time as an important part of who I am."

The lieutenant colonel and Baptist minister was based at Camp Victory, the main U.S. military headquarters. He flew more than 11,000 miles in helicopters, frequently visiting hospitals, chatting and praying with the wounded, bringing calm to the chaos.

One day he went to the morgue to pray for a soldier but had been given the wrong name. When a soldier there cursed him and said he should have gotten the identification right, Bryer agreed, and asked him to get the correct information.

Later, the soldier apologized but still admonished him: "Get it right next time."

Bryer wore a Vietnam patch on his right shoulder that didn't go unnoticed in Iraq. Once, he says, a soldier said to him: "You've done this before. You think it makes a difference?"

"I hope so," he replied.

Despite all the tragedy he saw, Bryer had joyful moments — his favorite involving a little boy.

While visiting a health clinic, he says, a little Iraqi boy pointed to the chaplain's shaved head. His mother said her son wanted to touch it.

"He rubbed it like it was a ball," Bryer says.

The chaplain pulled a Snicker's bar from his pocket, broke it in two and gave half to the boy. "We pushed it together, toasting like we're ready to have champagne. I bit in and was making all kinds of sounds like mmmmm," Bryer says. "He was just sitting and laughing."

For Bryer, now 62, this fleeting moment of friendship offers promise for the future.

"I hope that when we're finished," he says, "this is what it's all about."

———

In February, Capt. Wainwright stood in a brick chapel at Fort Hood to honor fallen soldiers.

This was not a day to mourn 4,000 lost, but the eight men from his battalion who did not come home.

"There's not a day that goes by that I don't think of those guys and feel some hurt in my heart," he says.

Wainwright spoke in a chapel with stained glass windows that depict cavalry soldiers. The names of those who've died in other wars are engraved on plaques.

Wainwright remembered each of the eight killed in Iraq by name, quoted from Psalm 20 and told mourners that these soldiers are "beckoning from the grave, demanding us to be the men they were ... good and honorable men."

The chaplain wears a memory bracelet with the name of one of them, Phillip Neel, who is buried in the West Point cemetery next to the Old Cadet chapel, where Wainwright used to worship.

"Every time I go back, even when I'm a decrepit old man," the chaplain says, "I'm going to go to the cemetery and look at the headstone, think and remember him, who he was, what he stood for."


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Total commitment: couples committed to Army and each other

By Sgt. Kevin Stabinsky, 2nd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div.
from Blackanthem.com Military News
Editor's Note: Chaplain (CPT) Javon Seaborn is a CSC Chaplain safely back from Iraq.

FORWARD OPERATING BASE KALSU — After serving a tour in Iraq together, married couples in the 2nd Brigade Combat Team will have certainly fulfilled the 'for worse' part of the their vows.

blackanthem
Spc. Tiffany Doyle (left), 2nd Brigade, 3rd Troop Battalion and spouse Spc. Kelly Doyle, also 2-3 BTB, relax together at the Kalsu Morale, Welfare and Recreation Center.

While all Soldiers are committed to serving their nation while deployed, these couples extend that commitment to each other.

Whether married for a long time, such as the Staff Sgts. Stacey and Krishni Ryland, who have been married five years, or short, like Chief Warrant Officer Jerry Emmons and Capt. Julie Bermeister, married since October 2006, both couples said they are grateful to be deployed with their spouse.

Besides the obvious advantage of seeing each other when missions allow, being deployed together has other benefits.

"Communication skills have become extremely important. It is one of the things that has improved in our relationship," said Emmons, brigade aviation element officer. "We learned how to listen and talk to the other one."

Even when together, such communication is vital in keeping marriage strong agreed Krishni, 26th Brigade Support Battalion dining facility non-commissioned officer in charge, and husband Stacey, 26th BSB chemical/ battalion day battle NCO.

A strong spiritual relationship also helps.

"We have a good relationship with the Lord; it keeps us together spiritually," Stacy said.

The two also said they maintain a good support and trust system in place.

"If you have those two together it (the relationship) is kind of hard to break no matter what is going on," Stacy said.

That is not to say that relationships cannot undergo strain or stress while deployed.

Although married couples serving together on Kalsu avoid the problem of leaving a spouse behind, additional problems in the relationship can be created.

"With her being here it does add to stress; I find myself hesitant to do some things," Emmons said.

Burmeister called the situation a double edged sword. On one hand, she said it is good that as soon as he comes back from a mission, she can see that he is okay, yet each time she sees him drive or fly off, it hurts.

The Rylands agreed, saying that it is stressful when they do not have accountability of each another.

Expressing feelings for each another can also be a challenge, said Chaplain (Capt.) Javon Seaborn, 26th BSB chaplain.

"The reality is that deployed married couples share a different dynamic that single Soldiers or married Soldiers whose spouse is not in the military can't relate to. Deployed married couples see each other every day but cannot express their feelings to each other because of the deployed environment," Seaborn said.

Although the brigade is attempting to secure lodging to allow couples to live together, currently couples are separated.

Work schedules can also interfere with time spent together.

Originally the Rylands were on different schedules; Krishni worked day and Stacey worked nights. Before Stacey switched to day shift these conditions interfered with the couple's ability to spend time together.

Emmons said he and his spouse spend time talking with the chaplain to help with difficulties.

Although his main function is to support the religious needs of Soldiers, Seaborn said another big chunk of his workload deals with helping married couples overcome difficulties experienced during deployment.

"Almost all of the couples that I have seen have had the same issues with communication and how this environment tends to restrict them as a couple," he said.

To help these couples, Seaborn said he suggests couples take time to Ôdate' each other again.

A good date is sharing meals in the dining facility. Besides seeing each other, dinner dates at the dining facility give couples a time when they can come together. They could catch up on what is going on at home and vent to each other about the day or the week, Seaborn said.

Merging the military lifestyle with their marriage lifestyle can also help. Emmons and Burmeister like to go to church and walk to work together while the Rylands said they run and do physical fitness training together.

Seaborn also suggested doing little things like writing love letters, leaving notes, or surprising them with a gift and putting it on their cot or in their sleep area will pay big dividends.

To further help couples, Seaborn said he and brigade chaplain, Chap. (Maj.) Jay Hearn, are planning classes for married couples to attend to strengthen bonds. Retreats for freedom rest are also being planned.

All of these things are being offered to help couples remain strong through their deployment struggles.

Despite some of the struggles, all the couples said they would not trade it for anything.

"I prefer him being here," Burmeister said.

"Being able to see each other; I like having that support," said Krishni, whose first deployment to Iraq was spent away from her spouse. "You can always talk to your spouse."

ADDITIONAL PHOTOS:


Pfc. Jason and Pfc. Jacqui Spillane are one of eight dual-miltary couples serving together at Forward Operating Base Kalsu in the 26th Brigade Support Battallion. The battalion contains 18 dual-military couples.


Sgt. Kareem Brown (left), Headquarters and Headquarters Company, and his spouse Pfc. Diana, 2 Brigade, 3rd Troop Battalion, are one example of couples serving together at Forward Operating Base Kalsu.


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FOBs prioritize scheduling, logistics to support Soldiers' religious choice

By Lacey Justinger, Triad Contributor
from Triad Online

Forward Operating Bases (FOB) Freedom and Liberty have prioritized scheduling and logistics to support mobilizing Soldiers' religious commitment.


(Photo by Lacey Justinger)
1st Lt. Bryan T. Wright, 478th Engineer Battalion (left), and Maj. Quentin Collins, 1203rd Engineer Battalion (right) baptize Staff Sgt. Edward A. Lewis, 224th Engineer Company, in a handmade, field baptismal font at Forward Operating Base Liberty.

"Freedom of religion; if you honor that, you honor everything the Soldiers stand for," said Chap. (1st Lt.) Bryan T. Wright, with the 478th Engineer Battalion. "Take that away, and you take away everything a Soldier stands for and puts their life on the line for."

"We're here to provide support for all denominations," said Chap. (Maj.) Quentin Collins, with the 1203rd Engineer Battalion. "We're here to provide support for the freedom of religion."

A small crowd, including a unit commander, gathered around a plastic-lined wooden box filled with water located a few yards away from the motor pool, a dusty road and large tent under construction.

Their purpose was to show support for Pfc. Conner L. Green with the 1203rd and Staff Sgt. Edward A. Lewis with the 224th Engineer Company, who chose to participate in a field baptism as a testament to their beliefs.

"It was something I always wanted to get done before I went overseas, and my whole squad turned out for it," said Lewis in response to his field baptism.  

Inside a triple-wide trailer, where the walls are covered in improvised explosive device-defeat posters, road maps of Iraq, sand tables and charts, groups of Soldiers meet weekly to express their faith and set aside time for worship during their mobilization training.

"The FOB got behind us and dedicated one classroom to us all day long, so whenever we could coordinate schedules it was available and ideal," said Chap. (Lt. Col.) Gary D. Gilmore, with the 35th Engineer Brigade, who held services at FOB Freedom. "We had services morning, noon and night with a good mixture, variety and response of all units, at all three services."


(Photo by Lacey Justinger)
Father Patrick Boyle, a contracted Catholic priest, reads a passage and blessing at Forward Operating Base Liberty.

"The Army and the government have an obligation to support a Soldier's right to the free exercise of religion," said Chap. (Col.) Steven Colwell, the Fort McCoy installation chaplain. "Chaplains, chaplain assistants and other religious support personnel are the way the government attempts to fulfill that obligation to the Soldier's First Amendment rights."

Catholic Masses at the FOBs started in July and are held Sundays at Liberty at 11 a.m. and 12:30 p.m. at Freedom. Father Patrick Boyle, one of the Catholic priests contracted to provide services, travels from Mundelein, Ill., to officiate some of the services. He served as a chaplain in Vietnam and offers the same format of Mass that he performs for his home parish.

The Mass includes communion and crowd interaction; Spc. Jacob C. Steele, 2nd Lt. Matthew J. Kremer and Spc. Justin Case with the 478th Engineer Battalion all read passages for the congregation during the second service offered at Liberty this summer.

He tells Soldiers, "Even if you can't get to Mass, keep it in your heart. Pray for everything; pray for the war. Do your part, take no chances and be careful."

Protestant Services are scheduled at both FOBs at 7 p.m. Sundays.

Unit chaplains stationed at the FOBs may offer more flexible chapel schedules. Due to training schedules, chapel attendance has ranged from eight attendees to 120 Soldiers.

"Soldiers have been frustrated when they can't get there," said Gilmore. "It's hard to make time when the training schedule treats Sunday like every other day and there are no two hours where everyone stands down."

"We're all here training to go to war but if we are not spiritually ready to go then all that training will not be effective," said Collins. Collins brings in a personal MP3 sound system, a laptop and a PDA to provide worship service music, slides and sermon notes. "Encouraging, uplifting messages of hope," he said are his main focus. "Joy is the key thing; joy breaks tension in intense situations."

But according to these chaplains, chapel services are only a small part of the mission. Chaplain's assistant Sgt. Joel Taylor with the 1203rd explained that the main focus is to go out and minister in the field and to give spiritual encouragement to the Soldiers.

"Most of the ministering is out with the troops in the field, 11 at night up in the guard tower, praying with them before they go outside of the wire; that's where it's at," said Wright. "Soldiers are good readers of who's genuine and if you really care about them."

"Preaching is a small facet, less than 10 percent of the emphasis," said Collins. "It's a proactive mission; we're called to be with the Soldiers, as a good luck charm, a talisman. Commanders value what religion brings to the fight."

"It's a different worship atmosphere when Soldiers come together," said Gilmore. "It's a boost for morale, a positive impact for the head and heart; then get out there and train."

For more information, contact the Fort McCoy Religious Support Office at (608) 388-3528 or visit the Chapel Center in building 2675.

(Justinger is a public affairs specialist for Eagle Systems and Services Inc., contractor for CONUS Support Base Services.)