Chaplain (Lieut. Col.) James E. Smith, Jr., Office of the Chief of Chaplains Soldier and Family Ministry
Chaplain (Lieut. Col.) James E. Smith, Jr., shared his reflections on how the military community handles grief following the shooting at Fort Hood in April 2014. Smith is a chaplain for the Office of the Chief of Chaplains Soldier and Family Ministry directorate in Fort Belvoir, Va.

"Measure not God's love and favour by your own feeling. The sun shines as clearly in the darkest day as it does in the brightest. The difference is not in the sun, but in some clouds which hinder the manifestation of the light thereof." -Richard Sibbes, Anglican Theologian (1577-1635)

Fort Hood was the scene of a shooting tragedy that brought grief to the surface of our collective consciousness. The shooter was not a discernible enemy but one of us - a coworker, a friend, a Soldier whose pain was not obvious but was still present.

Soldiers observe rules of engagement, codes and standards on the battlefield. All Soldiers are required and expected to live up to those basic standards. It is particularly disheartening when one does not. Likewise, when the source of violence or an attack comes from within our ranks we are shocked, confused, and dismayed. This constitutes a major violation of the trust we have in each other and the warrior ethos within the Profession of Arms.

When a service member violates battlefield standards, the decency that makes us human and part of God?'s global community is called into question. Today the battlefield can be almost anywhere, depending on our definition. We commonly think that the battlefield is far away on distant lands requiring us to leave family and loved ones behind. However, there are other battles we must fight: broken relationships, inability to cope, depleted methods of handling stress, workplace violence and even grief.

We can equip ourselves to fight these battles. Crisis Prevention Institute, Inc., offers the following steps for workplace violence prevention training:
• Assess Your Work Environment
• Know the Warning Signs
• Promote Respect (The best way to prevent violence in the workplace is to foster a day-to-day attitude of respect and consideration in your work environment)
• Eliminate Potential Weapons
• Know Your Violence Response Procedures
• Trust Your Instincts, (If you sense impending danger, react accordingly)
• Use a Team Approach

We can equip ourselves to respond to grief. Grief is a common reality that everyone faces. Soldiers and DOD Family members are not immune or exempt to the effects of violence and grief. When you don a military uniform you spend time preparing to endure hardships of many different varieties--the potential of violence is one of those things for which you prepare. To a lesser degree grief is factored in. Perhaps it should be reconsidered. Grief is a process. We know about the reported stages of grief: Denial and Isolation; Anger; Bargaining; Depression and Acceptance. It is important to remind ourselves that the process is based on the individual and has no time limit with regards to the different stages.

The Fort Hood community is battle-proven in responding to grief with hope. Five years ago a similar incident took place, and just like they did then the Fort Hood community will band together to rise again from the pain of confusion and the fog of disbelief. Fort Hood is the epitome of resilience and the stronghold of hope.

From a religious perspective, hope comes from God, the One who is able to strengthen our resolve and sustain our spirits. Chaplains and the religious support community act as agents of hope and assist the commander?'s efforts to ensure that caring for all our Family members remains a sacred trust.
The Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants at Fort Hood are in our prayers as they provide ministry to the Fort Hood community after the recent shooting. At Fort Hood and every Army installation, Unit Ministry Team members throughout the Chaplain Corps stand ready to help our communities deal with issues of grief.

Resources:
- Military Crisis Line - 1-800-273-TALK (8255) - Press 1
- Military OneSource Crisis Intervention Line: (800) 342-9647
- For assistance in the aftermath of the April 2 shooting, Fort Hood Soldiers and Family members can call the Family Assistance Center Hotline at (254) 288-7570 or (866) 836-2751; the Behavioral Health Hotline: 254-535-2748; and Chaplains have also setup family counseling centers on and off post at Fort Hood. Locations are the Spirit of Fort Hood Chapel and Scott & White Hospital, or call 254-287-CHAP

Page last updated Mon April 7th, 2014 at 00:00