As part of the Army’s ongoing support for “people” as a top priority, the Army Chaplain Corps has partnered with Army Behavioral Health and other care providers to provide holistic treatment to soldiers and support their general readiness through Spiritual Readiness Pilots (formerly known as Chaplaincy) Integration pilots).

Last week, the pilot program made its way to Victory Hall as key players in Fort Jackson, including brigade and battalion command teams, department teams, and behavioral medicine providers, came together to advance their work as partners in the care of soldiers.

The spiritual readiness pilot program, initiated by the Chief of Chaplains Initiatives Group in coordination with Dr. Lisa Miller, Professor of Psychology and Education at Columbia University, aims to explore ways to complement behavioral health care with high quality unit-level pastoral care.

Miller spoke to the group about inherent spirituality. She opened her presentation by reassuring everyone that the science she was presenting had been developed and peer reviewed over many years by her laboratory and other laboratories.

“Science tells us that every single young man and woman was born with an innate ability to live spiritually from day one,” Miller said.

The Army Chief of Chaplains, Chaplain (Major General) Thomas Solhjem, described the importance of spirituality in a memo introducing the program. “Spirituality is important to the Army as research by Dr. Miller and others confirms the protective value of personal spirituality against suicide, clinical depression, risk taking, and substance addiction and abuse.”

Chaplain (Col.) Jonathan McGraw, director of the initiative group, said they have been researching the spiritual needs of soldiers for the past two and a half years by studying the psychology of spirituality at Columbia University and Yale University’s Life Worth Living program . “So we brought these two together and with our chaplains found a new way to assess the soldier’s spiritual needs through an inventory and then see what their spiritual connection is … what is their tradition?”

Army Training and Doctrine Command Chaplain (Col.) Gregory Edison said he looks forward to continuing to train and see the science that supports the idea that we are born with a “spiritual core.” This is a great addition for the religious affairs ministers and specialists to validate what we know as the profession of religious assistance to the soul of the army – the science to prove it. “

During the Fort Jackson program, Miller trained with Dr. Angela Gorrell of Baylor University chaplains in a five-step model in support of spiritual readiness. The model is designed for use at the battalion level and will help new soldiers focus on developing an “operating system for personal life” as the basis for a “life worth living”.

Gorrell said, “There are several key questions that we ask in our Living Worth Living program: What is a meaningful life? What does it mean to lead our lives well? What does it mean for life to feel right? Gorrell added that she is giving chaplains opportunities to help soldiers answer these questions for themselves.

Command teams and drill sergeants attended meetings to learn how to develop sane soldiers. There was also training for chaplains and behavioral medicine providers to improve their collaboration and referral efforts.

The Army Surgeon General, Lt. Gen. R. Scott Dingle, was unable to be at Fort Jackson in person, but made remarks via video. He spoke about combat physicians and health care providers who care for physical needs and the importance of those who care for mental and spiritual needs.

“It is time for us to create synergies because people come first. It is time for us to create synergies so that we can fight multipliers to ensure our soldiers and family members receive a holistic approach that takes into account the mind, body, soul, mental, spiritual and physical general readiness of our soldiers and the entire army family, ”Dingle said.

Lt. Col. Sam Preston, Army Chief of Conductive Health, said this was a powerful collaboration that has already resulted in changes to behavioral health risk management guidelines. “We added a paragraph based on guidelines and scientific evidence from clinical practice. It is important for providers to collectively and comprehensively assess the spirituality and religious background of those seeking care, particularly those who commit suicide.”

Preston went on to state that this is important because, as behavioral health providers, they need to understand the populations they serve.

“Good medicine looks at individuals broadly, not just chemistry, physiology, and psychology, but who they are as an individual,” Preston said.

Army Deputy Chief of Staff Lt. Gen. G-1 Gary Brito, co-chair of the People First Task Force, spoke to chaplains and behavioral health professionals about the corrosives of sexual assault, sexual harassment, extremism and racism. and also the meaning of the “triad” of mental, physical and spiritual readiness.

Speaking of his position on the Task Force, Brito said, “I want to focus on the first word, people … Please trust me, our Chief of Staff’s audio and video of people who are a philosophy and a priority couldn’t be stronger today . “

“I am happy to be part of the team with you. They will definitely help us get to the desired endpoint of everything that the Human First Task Force is working on, more importantly, what our army needs right now … ”said Brito.

Recording date: 02/24/2021
Release Date: 02/24/2021 3:13 PM
Story ID: 389735
Place: FORT JACKSON, SC, USA
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