Chaplain vital to Warrior Transition Battalion
November 21, 2008
Fort Riley, Kan. - For Families who have watched spouses come and go from war, sometimes several times, there comes a time when spiritual guidance and restoration become as important as medical care. Irwin Army Community Hospital and the Warrior Transition Battalion have two full time chaplains available for those in need.
Chap. (Maj.) Roger Manley was a retired Missouri Guardsman who volunteered to come back on active duty in order to serve in the WTB. He arrived at the WTB in March 2008. Manley said he felt as though there was a specialized need for a WTB chaplain.
"The WTB Soldiers have a higher concentration of matters to be dealt with than does a traditional unit," Manley said. Besides medical matters, the wounded warriors sometimes have to deal with legal, economic, residential and marital problems that arise from those issues.
The WTB Soldiers often suffer from mental and physical injuries and their spouses are dealing with role reversals related to their Soldier returning as someone different than who deployed.
Not everyone in need will approach him for guidance or support, Manley said. At times, he said, he interprets body language or looks for signs of isolation and then approaches Soldiers to offer assistance or just to listen, which is often favorably received.
Manley also participates in the Spouses Understanding Needs support group to offer guidance and support to spouses and provides a weekly Bible study for WTB Soldiers.
Due to the variety of people, faiths and conditions in the WTB, Manley said he continues to educate himself on many religions so as to make WTB staff and cadre aware of the special needs and beliefs of the Soldiers.
Chap. (Capt.) Diana Crane, the IACH chaplain, makes herself available to provide pastoral care for staff and patients, including the WTB Soldiers and Families when necessary. Prior to Manley's arrival, Crane provided care for both the IACH and the WTB.
Crane acts as a mediator and counselor for marital conflicts, advises the commander on morale and ethical issues and provides guidance to hospital staff in ethical conflicts. Crane strongly supports retreats for couples, singles and for those with a spouse suffering from traumatic brain injuries or post-traumatic stress disorder. She also has facilitated retreats for medical providers who have redeployed.
Crane has a background in hospital chaplaincy and mental health. She spent 12 months at Brooke Army Medical Center, Fort Sam Houston, Texas, providing pastoral care for patients on the burn and orthopedic (amputee) units, while completing the Clinical Pastoral Education program there.
Crane said her role has changed since the Global War on Terrorism caused an increase in Soldiers with combat stress. She often counsels people through issues related to reconnecting with faith, spiritual development and grief. She also provides home Bible studies for those who avoid crowds because of PTSD.
Crane said she sometimes feels like a spiritual and emotional emergency room for crisis and finds it professionally fulfilling to be the calming arbitrator in a situation.
"Spirituality is important for resiliency," Crane said. "People take care of their minds and bodies, and don't always remember that spirituality takes care of our souls, which is important for the recovery of wounds and sickness."
Dealing with grief related to the many losses that come with injury and illness is another significant issue that both chaplains said they address on a regular basis.
"Grief is a large part of dealing with the changes our warriors experience," Crane said. "Since any loss causes grief, it is important that we are able to deal with it."
Manley and Crane both participate in the Quilts of Valor program. They receive quilts from members across the country who send the quilts to more than 70 military hospitals for distribution to injured Soldiers. Manley and Crane have personally given out more than 200 quilts since their assignments to IACH and the WTB.