Spiritual resiliency helps Soldiers weather life's traumas
December 11, 2009
FORT MCCOY, Wis. -- People who have spiritual resiliency have a greater chance to weather life's traumas and even use them as events to improve their lives than people who don't have great spiritual resiliency, said Chap. (Brig. Gen.) Ray Woolridge.
Woolridge, the assitant chief of chaplains for mobilization and readiness, was the guest speaker at a Fort McCoy Prayer Luncheon, Dec. 3.
The luncheon was the second in a series about Comprehensive Soldier Fitness (CSF) and suicide awareness training. The first luncheon dealt with stress management and the physical aspect of CSF. CSF also includes mental, social and family dimensions.
"Everyone here is going to face a trauma at some time in their lives; it may be financial, health-related, or relationships," Woolridge said. "A study (by Dr. Harold Koenig, Duke University Medical Center) showed people who have greater spiritual resilience have greater well-being, happiness, meaning, purpose and hope."
Soldiers are facing trauma by serving in Afghanistan and Iraq during a time of the third longest war since the country was founded. Woolridge noted it was the longest period of war without a draft.
People who pray, serve others, pay attention to their religious values and have a positive outlook tend to be more resilient. Woolridge said people who are more resilient show less depression and faster recovery from depression, use less alcohol and drugs, have greater marital stability and less divorce and spousal abuse and greater social support, he said.
Woolridge said some people can use trauma as a springboard to improve their lives. In his own case, he has gained increased spiritual resilience from dealing with ear cancer. Finally, a portion of the ear was removed and it appears the cancer was contained to that area and hasn't spread.
"We have a choice of how we will respond to things," he said. "I know this, I won't die of this cancer today ... although I may die of something else, and I will be prepared for it."
"I urge you to make sure your connection with God is what it should be, and you'll be prepared for any trauma that comes your way," he said.
The foundation for spiritual support in the Army goes back to the creation of the Army in 1775, when the chaplain corps also was created, and probably farther back than that to the beginnings of the National Guard, he said.
The United States was founded as a nation based on religious freedom, he said. America is one of the most pluralistic societies in the world. People of many different religions can live together and can come together as neighbors to achieve a common goal.
"That's the way it should be," Woolridge said.
People can prepare themselves to overcome traumatic events by developing self-confidence, leadership, personal strength, spiritual growth and an appreciation of life.
For more information about CSF, visit the Army Knowledge Online (AKO) site, which is accessible through the Army Web site at http://www.army.mil. A link to the CSF program is featured prominently on the AKO homepages.