Nurture, Care, Honor
May 28, 2011
CONTINGENCY OPERATING SITE WARRIOR, Iraq " Soldiers have many personal reasons for choosing to serve. Some say a strong inner urge or calling prompted them to select their current vocation.
Following a path of conviction may not always offer tangible rewards, but offers a great sense of self-fulfillment for Spc. Faith Bedwell, a chaplain assistant assigned to 101st Brigade Support Battalion, 1st Advise and Assist Task Force, 1st Infantry Division.
Bedwell, a native of Chatom, Ala., said she enjoys helping out and providing Soldiers with resources necessary to help themselves.
“I receive my reward after a Soldier gets help and comes back with a smile and says ‘thank you,’” she said.
Serving in U.S. Division-North in support of Operation New Dawn, Bedwell said many people do not realize what her job entails as a chaplain assistant.
Assistants perform all the same duties as chaplains except for preaching, marriages and burials, she said.
“I go around with the chaplain and check Soldiers’ morale, peer to peer counseling, and suicide intervention,” said Bedwell. “I let them know if they need anything or anyone they can find the chaplain or chaplain assistant and we’ll help in any way we can.”
Bedwell’s day-to-day duties change often, and she rises to meet daily challenges, said Staff Sgt. Timothy Seppala, Bedwell’s supervisor and 1st AATF chaplain noncommissioned officer in charge.
“Every day is different and often we simply react to events and situations as they occur,” said Seppala, a native of Hayti, S.D.
Bedwell embodies compassion for fellow Soldiers and everyone she meets, a characteristic critical to success as a chaplain assistant, said Seppala.
“Her biggest strength is her personal courage,” said Seppala. “She goes to whatever lengths she must to help others and shows she genuinely cares about Soldiers.”
Seppala recalled an event several years ago when Bedwell coordinated, organized and publicized a food drive for Soldiers during the holidays.
She came up with the idea for service members to help one another by donating food and other items for their Families, said Seppala.
Inspired by her nephews and following the legacy of her father and uncle in the military, Bedwell said she remains grateful to service members who have given their lives as she continues her own Family military tradition.
When thinking of a Soldier, Bedwell said her uncle comes to mind.
“He is my hero,” she said. “Vietnam was over by the time I came along, of course, but he always made me feel very safe and he was very protective.
“I remember the day he received his three Purple Hearts. I was about 20 at the time and he was so proud they finally honored him,” Bedwell said. “Then, I didn’t care what he did to deserve them, but he must have done something really heroic to be awarded them, and I wish he was still here so he can pass on his skills and training.”
Bedwell recalled the chaplain mission to nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the dead, as she recollected an event which shaped her future as a chaplain assistant.
“I just thought about how personally I take my job,” said Bedwell as she wiped away a tear. “I wasn’t prepared for what I saw. I was an (emergency medical ministry) trainee, working night shift at San Antonio when they brought in 20-25 Soldiers recently injured. As they rolled the Soldiers in, I didn’t know what to do. I wanted to salute them, give them hugs and applaud them.”
“That was the closest I’d come to seeing Soldiers wounded, and it touched my heart,” she said. “I couldn’t go to bed that night. I had to see the Soldiers and their Families and make sure they had everything they needed. There wasn’t anything I felt like I couldn’t do for them, and I’ll never forget any of the Soldiers I talked to that night.”
Just as others made a difference in her life, Bedwell said knowing she can make a difference in someone’s life keeps her in the Chaplains Corps.
“I don’t see myself as a great person, but I believe, spiritually speaking, we’re all supposed to help people in need,” Bedwell said humbly. “Love your neighbor as yourself, take care of those who need help, hug someone who’s crying, and laugh with those who laugh.”