FORT HOOD, Texas - Great things are happening at The Ohana Place on Fort Hood. For proof, one has to look no further than inside the main space and former sanctuary at the renovated 19th Street Chapel, where a 1,200-pound bronze statue rests.

The statue, which features a chaplain comforting a grieving Soldier in the immediate aftermath of battle, will eventually be installed at the U.S. Army Chaplain's Center and School at Fort Jackson, S.C.

The statue was designed and created by a group of Fort Hood kids and teens under the direction of Steve Carter, who runs Bob's Diner, a middle and high school youth ministry group. Weekly Arts Nights are held at the "diner," where youth explore and create music, drama and art in a faith-based environment.

Garrison Chaplain (Col.) Frank Jackson said the Arts Nights are a useful tool in the youth ministry, but not its sole focus. "The focus is not on doing that (the statue)," Jackson said at a recent Arts Night gathering. "The focus is on, what does that mean."

He said the art, drama and music groups held Tuesday nights allow the kids and teens of the group to discuss and work through the challenges of growing up in a military family.

"This truly is spiritual resilience and sustainment in the face of persistent conflict," Jackson said.

Carter is a retired chaplain's sergeant major who has been involved with youth ministry at every post where he and his family have been stationed, beginning in 1975. He has a fine arts degree in painting.

"Sculpting is just something I picked up," Carter said. "The thing I've been trying to do for years and years is to tell the story of the chaplains. To try to communicate what the chaplain brings to the fight."

Carter said he saw a chance to tell that story to a wider audience when it was announced that groups interested in designing a statue for the Chaplain Center and School could submit a proposal. He and members of Bob's Diner talked over the idea and submitted a drawing, which eventually became the life-sized sculpture.

Carter said the idea behind the sculpture came from an actual event in Afghanistan.

"There was an insurgent assault on one of the FOBs. The insurgents were repelled, and just as soon as it was safe, the chaplain was going around and checking on all the Soldiers," Carter said. "What we wanted to show with this sculpture was the immediacy right after the battle. Maybe he (the Soldier) lost a buddy, maybe someone was injured, and as he's grieving, the chaplain is able to be right there."

He said a large group of kids worked on the sculpture, brainstorming ideas, drawing sketches, creating models and eventually taking part in the actual process at Pogue Gallery in Marble Falls.

The statue should move to its final home in the coming months. And the youth group will keep creating. Plans are already in progress to have the group work on projects at the new Fort Hood chapel complex, which is under construction.

Kids and teens who take part in the program were enthusiastic about all aspects of the youth ministry.

"I really like the art," Rebekah Batchelor said. "I just like being able to create."

One of the group leaders, Rebekah Sanchez, said she sees the youth ministry as a good place for kids and teens to gather, grow and connect.

"I think it's just a really good place for them to come and have fun," she said. "They're gaining skills that they'll be able to use later."

Page last updated Fri July 22nd, 2011 at 12:16