Chief of Chaplains Chap. (Maj. Gen.) Douglas L. Carver, accompanied by the Chief of Chaplains and Regimental Sgt. Maj. Tommy Marrero, left their families behind this Thanksgiving season and embarked on a journey to thank and praise Servicemembers throughout Iraq.

Carver attended a Protestant worship service Nov. 22, at Camp Victory's Hope Chapel. It was there he spoke to worshipers about the faith and resiliency that today's Servicemembers have as they continue to fight wars on two fronts.

"We are going into our ninth year in Afghanistan and into our seventh year here in Iraq. We have thousands who have been killed in action or wounded in action," he said. "There are mental and spiritual wounds you can't see. We have problems and challenges."

One solution, Carver said, is to come together as an Army family. He noted this is especially important in the wake of the Fort Hood shootings Nov. 5.

It was during a celebratory dinner for the 100th anniversary of the chaplain assistant, on Nov. 25, that Carver touched on another solution- spirituality and faith.

The Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program began Oct. 1. The holistic program emphasizes physical, spiritual, family, emotional and social areas in regards to mental well-being. Chaplains will take the lead on the spiritual aspect of the CSF program.

"A spiritually fit Soldier is more combat effective," he explained. "There's something about the spirit that gives us strength and fitness."

When that strength may seem like it is failing, it is faith that will lift a person up, Carver said.

"Faith carries you when nothing may be working in your life. Faith helps you stay courageous, strong, bold and optimistic," he said. "It's your power source, and is something training can never give you. It gives you hope. You need it 24 hours a day."

Carver said he was impressed at the vast opportunities available to Servicemembers and civilians to strengthen their spirituality and faith. They are able to attend services, Bible study and gatherings on an almost daily basis on camps and forward operating bases in theater.

"It's encouraging to see the amount of interest in the options out here," said Carver, who is able to visit Iraq and Afghanistan once a year.

"Every time I come here, it's almost beyond words to describe people's desire to grow," he said.

In September, Carver and Marrero witnessed packed rooms in Afghanistan as troops came in to worship. For his visit to Iraq, Carver said it seemed to fall in nicely with the Thanksgiving holiday.

Although his wife had wished her husband could join their family for Thanksgiving traditions, Carver said she understood the importance of his visit to Iraq during the holiday season.

"Thanksgiving is a time to spend with families," he said. "It feels right to be here with my Army family."

During a traditional time of thanks, Carver and Marrero stopped to thank Servicemembers, including chaplains and chaplain assistants, for their sacrifices this holiday season.

"I came over here during a significant time because I wanted to thank (Servicemembers) for their service during a time of war," said Carver.

Carver said the United States will be forever indebted to the job Servicemembers have continued to do in Iraq and Afghanistan, and he and Marrero continue to pray for their return home.

"There are Soldiers and Servicemembers in harms way every day," said Marrero. "I pray for their safe returns to their families."

Page last updated Thu November 26th, 2009 at 09:49