Sunday, August 23, 2009

Together Again

Sorry for the delay in posting. The training schedule has been very demanding over the last few weeks. However, there's lots of good news to update.

First and foremost, Christina has arrived here in South Carolina! She flew in Friday afternoon, which happened to be our 5 year anniversary. We had a great dinner at the melting pot and have been enjoying each other's company for the last 2 days. While its kind of weird having no home and living in a hotel, its great to finally be back together. Even this blog entry comes to you via pool side relaxation together. Christina is reading and I am "working."

Secondly, I only have 1 more week of training before I report to my unit. While I look back at the training I received, I am extremely grateful for the hard work of my instructors who have been over worked and under paid for the job they've done. 2 weeks ago we had a 3 day FTX (Field Training Exercise) in the 100 degree heat with the incredible South Carolina humidity. Yet even when we all were pushed to our limits, our instructors continued to teach and guide us. I've met some really amazing guys down here and I look forward to seeing and working with them in the future. There are 5 of us who are reporting straight to Ft Campbell after we finish here. In fact, all of us who are headed straight to active duty assignments (about 30 of us) following this training have become good friends. That's good because we will need it. Since every Battalion only has 1 Chaplain, it can be one of the hardest and loneliest jobs in the Army. Other Chaplain friends can make all the difference.
One particular friend I've made is almost 20 years my senior. We've made a deal, he helps me mature and grow up in areas I need to, and I'll help him with all his technology/computer issues. I think I'm getting the better end of the deal.

Thirdly, we've been added to the housing waiting list at Ft Campbell. We are currently 16 of 26 on the list. It looks like we'll have to wait about 2 months for a house to open up once we get there. Thankfully, we are getting good at living in hotels and they have a post hotel at Campbell that is a suite that has a separate bedroom and kitchen. Not that different from some of our smaller apartments in Chicago. And it will be worth the wait. When we finally do get housing, we will get a large 3 bedroom house, some of which are brand new! Needless to say, it will be the largest home we've ever had and we plan to use that space well! (thats an open invitation to anyone who wants to come visit us.... only an hour from Nashville and 3 hours from the Kentucky Derby next spring!!!!!).

Well thats all from the pool side for right now. We will be leaving South Carolina for Ft Campbell on Friday afternoon after my graduation and we'll get there sometime on Saturday. We are about to start a new chapter in our life and we are both extremely excited to see where it takes us. God Bless!

Saturday, August 1, 2009

Soldiers die in war. The question is, how do we deal with it?

One of my jobs as a Chaplain will be to help soldiers learn to cope and give permission to grieve when one of their closest buddied dies. Naturally, when something traumatic happens, tough guys want to shut down and keep it all inside. That is the last thing in the world that I want to see happen. When something traumatic happens we have to open up and talk about it, talk about how it effects us, talk about what it has done to us.
Here is an example of part of what I'll be doing. It's a tough video to watch because its real.

If you watch, you will see a Captain give the "facts" of the situation. This is the first step in what we call at TEM (Traumatic Event Management) intervention. Someone who knows the facts of the event comes in and briefs everyone on what exactly happened. Then that person usually leaves and the soldier are encouraged and prompted (by the Chaplain) to talk about what happened. What they heard, what they felt, what they smelled, tasted and saw. When they share their reactions to the event (weather it be anger, rage, fear, sorrow, regret, grief, or numbness) they are understood to be held in confidence within the group. But when the soldiers open up and realize that others are having the same feelings they begin to help each other cope. It doesn't lessen the loss, but the hope is that the soldiers feelings are validated and normalized and they don't feel isolated and alone.
Give it a watch: