Va. National Guard, VDF chaplains gather for State Chaplain Workshop

Chaplains and chaplain’s assistants from Virginia Army National Guard units across the commonwealth, along with chaplains from the Virginia Defense Force, gathered March 1, 2014, at Fort Pickett, Va. for the State Chaplain Workshop. Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, spoke to the chaplains about his goals for the Virginia Guard, key values and the challenges ahead.  The chaplains discussed a variety of topics, including the future of the chaplain corps, and various Virginia Guard programs and how they relate to the chaplain corps. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

Chaplains and chaplain’s assistants from Virginia Army National Guard units across the commonwealth, along with chaplains from the Virginia Defense Force, gathered March 1, 2014, at Fort Pickett, Va. for the State Chaplain Workshop. Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, spoke to the chaplains about his goals for the Virginia Guard, key values and the challenges ahead. The chaplains discussed a variety of topics, including the future of the chaplain corps, and various Virginia Guard programs and how they relate to the chaplain corps. (Photo by Staff Sgt. Terra C. Gatti, Virginia Guard Public Affairs)

FORT PICKETT, Va. – Chaplains and their assistants from the Virginia Army National Guard and the Virginia Defense Force gathered March 1, 2014, at the Fort Pickett-based 183rd Regiment, Regional Training Institute for a day-long State Chaplain Workshop. The event served as an opportunity for chaplains from across the commonwealth to come together for annual sustainment training.

The event attendees primarily serve on unit ministry teams, usually two-person teams consisting of a chaplain and a chaplain’s assistant working at the battalion level and fulfilling a valuable role in the units of their assignment. Chaplains are responsible for providing religious coverage and support to Soldiers, regardless of denomination or faith, and to provide support to Soldiers and their families.

During the event, the chaplains received training on recent changes to U.S. Army policy, U.S. Army doctrine, training requirements for unit ministry teams, Soldier care issues, and information on supporting commanders.

For Chaplain (Lt. Col.) J. D. Moore, operations chaplain for the Virginia Army National Guard, one of the best parts of the event was getting together with fellow chaplains.

“The highlight of the event was seeing the UMTs from across the Virginia Army National Guard having fellowship with some of the best and most professional folks in the Army,” Moore said. “We rarely are able to meet together to talk about our experiences and ministry.”

Maj. Gen. Daniel E. Long, Jr., the Adjutant General of Virginia, was on had to talk to the chaplains about his goals and vision for the Virginia National Guard, as well as values he believes are important to the success of the organization.

“You are the best of the best training, best equipped, smartest National Guard that the nation has every known,” Long said. “Thank you for all that you do. I’m real proud of the chaplains and some of the things you all do.”

Long also took time to answer questions from the chaplains on what the future might hold for the Virginia National Guard.

The chaplains also recognized one of their own, Pastor Robert Lee Farmer, who serves in the Virginia Defense Force. Farmer heads Coan Baptist Church, a Partner in Care participant, who assisted in raising more than $5,000 for a family in need.

The Partners in Care program was founded by the Chaplain Corps of the Maryland National Guard and has since spread to additional states. The program aims to help reduce stressors that may result in low resiliency among National Guard Soldiers and Airmen and brings together organizations and congregations that have volunteered or requested to support Virginia’s Guard families, according to Moore. The various partners involved offer a wide variety of support, including financial assistance, home repair and childcare, and are generally connected to service members in need of support through the Chaplain Corps.

“The chaplain world is a lonely world and few understand our role,” Moore said. “Many times we bear the burden of Soldier and family. The position of complete confidentiality means we cannot discuss, for any reason, what officers and Soldiers discuss with us. We hear their stories, feel their pain and mourn with them. Coming together for us means caring for each other, even if it is only for one day.”

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Photos: Virginia Guard State Chaplain Workshop held at Fort Pickett

 

 

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