Va. Guard chaplains provide service to Guardsmen during Presidential Inauguration

 

Chaplain (Maj.) Ben Sprouse leads a worship service Jan. 20, 2013, for Virginia Guard personnel supporting the 57th Presidential Inauguration in Washington, D.C. (Photo by Tech. Sgt. Meghan Skrepenski, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

WASHINGTON, D. C. — As Virginia National Guard Soldiers and Airmen assisted with security operations for the 57th Presidential Inauguration, Virginia Guard chaplains augmented the District of Columbia National Guard’s chaplain corps by supporting personnel from D.C., Puerto Rico, Tennessee, Virginia, the U.S. Virgin Islands and West Virginia from Jan. 20-21, 2013. The chaplain support teams, consisting of two chaplains and two chaplain assistants, provided religious support, counseling and a network of liaisons to Soldiers and Airmen.

“My primary focus is providing religious and counseling support to the service members supporting the inauguration,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Ben Sprouse, of the Staunton-based 116th Infantry Brigade Combat Team. “I also enjoy visiting with Soldiers and Airmen at their duty locations.”

The chaplain teams were assigned based on the size of the task force, and designated to either Task Force Security or Task Force Chemical, Biological, Radiological, Nuclear, High Yield Explosive. Sprouse was the lead chaplain for four chaplain teams, comprised of Soldiers and Airmen from Delaware, Tennessee, Virginia and the U.S. Virgin Islands.

Sprouse led a non-denominational church service for Virginia Guard Soldiers and Airmen from the 229th and 266th military police companies and the 192nd Security Forces Squadron Jan. 20, and stayed to visit with Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long. Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, Command Sgt. Maj. Dennis A. Green, the Virginia National Guard Senior Enlisted Leader, and Secretary Marla Graff Decker, Virginia Secretary of Public Safety.

Sprouse worked with Sgt. William Henderson providing chaplain support and visiting with Soldiers and Airmen as they were on location for Task Force Security in the vicinity of the inauguration parade route. Henderson, who just celebrated 20 years in the military, was working his third presidential inauguration with the Guard.

Task Force CBRNE supported the CBRNE elements in the National Capital Region on standby for the inauguration. Chaplain (Maj.) Bob Patton provided chaplain support for Task Force CBRNE, and teamed up with Staff Sgt. Robert Burch providing encouragement to the CBRNE teams from D.C., Maryland, Pennsylvania, Virginia and West Virginia. Patton also provided a stress management briefing to approximately 300 Soldiers and Airmen as they prepared to support the inauguration.

Patton and Burch visited with service members across the National Capital Region during the inauguration on Jan. 21, 2013. “Soldier care was our main focus. We were there to support any event and could respond quickly to any issues that might have occurred,” Burch said. “The CBRNE unit had never had chaplain support before and they received us well. They were very supportive and appreciative.“

Burch spoke of the chaplain’s desire to visit with all the troops throughout the day, however time and travel restraints only allowed site visits with approximately 25 of the CBRNE service members.

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View photos of the chaplains in action on Flickr:
http://www.flickr.com/photos/vaguardpao/sets/72157632566998821/