Arrowhead soldiers receive spiritual guidance at NTC
August 19, 2011
NATIONAL TRAINING CENTER, Calif. - For some Arrowhead soldiers of the 3rd Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 2nd Infantry Division, attending religious services creates a fresh start to a new week in the Mojave Desert at the National Training Center in southern California.
The isolation of the rugged terrain day in and day out, sunrise and sunset, can develop an atmosphere to what Maj. Edward Choi, brigade chaplain, 3-2 SBCT, describes as similar to Groundhog Day.
To provide soldiers with something new and different to look forward to each week, chaplains conduct spiritual services, provide a listening ear, and give words of encouragement to them and their families, which enhances soldier's spiritual fitness, said Choi.
Soldiers have the opportunity to attend religious services, where they can pray and mediate about not only their place in their units, but also their place in life, said Choi, who draws his inspiration for his service from the Arrowhead team.
"The unit ministry team is a very key component to the soldier as far as getting them that motivation and helping that soldier through whatever crisis they have," said Sgt. Richard Wallace, brigade chaplain's assistant, 3-2 SBCT.
To triumph over some of the frustrations stemming from the harsh training at NTC, Pfc. Marlen Redd, combat medic, 296th Brigade Support Battalion, 3-2 SBCT, said she attends spiritual services to provide relief from her busy schedule.
"It's just a happy and peaceful feeling, and I do enjoy that," said Redd, a native of Decatur, Ill., and who recently graduated advanced individual training at Fort Sam Huston, Texas.
"I think it's important for chaplains to be able to relate to young soldiers," said Choi. "We chaplains are a little bit older and a different kind of generation, but able to speak the same language."
The chaplain compared Captain America to Arrowhead soldiers and what strengthens them during difficult times, whether at NTC or downrange. What sustained him was not his physical ability, said Choi, but rather what was inside of him.
"What sustains a soldier in combat is their spirit," said Choi. "Spirituality is in the core of the soldier; it's in the heart of the soldier."
Gen. George C. Marshall, former Secretary of State, once said, "It is not enough to fight. It is the spirit which we bring to the fight that that decides the issue. It is morale that wins the victory."
The chaplain referred to the general's sentiment to reinforce the importance of spirituality in comprehensive soldier fitness, which encompasses the five dimensions of strength: physical, emotional, social, family, and spiritual.
The motivated soldiers of the Arrowhead brigade will draw upon one another's strength as they gear up for their training exercise in the mountainous terrain of NTC.