Spiritual fitness lunch in Kuwait connects Soldiers' faith to resiliency
February 26, 2013
CAMP BUEHRING, Kuwait- "What do you do when you are lost in the woods?" Maj. Gen. Gary H. Cheek, deputy commanding general, Third Army/ U.S. Army Central, asked the large crowd gathered at Camp Buehring Dining Facility 1 on Feb. 2.
The question referred to an experience that Cheek had during ranger school and served as metaphor for a crisis of identity. Through the details of his analogy, the soldiers of 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division and guests, discovered that the answer to his question was the whole intent of their meeting, to pray.
"We want soldiers to know that whatever their faith may be, it is important," said Maj. Geoff Bailey, a chaplain for 3rd BCT. "Events like this help to support their spirituality and encourages individual soldiers to figure out exactly what their faith and tradition is, practice it, and learn more about who they are."
In his speech, Cheek described self-discovery as a crucial element of resiliency, which was a main theme of the spiritual fitness lunch.
"We've all got to ask ourselves, 'what do I have in my heart and in my soul that will enable me to get through adversity?" said Cheek.
Cheek concluded that the resolution to most adversity lies within each of the five components of the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, which is intended to provide the U.S. Army community with a targeted approach to improved resiliency.
"One important thing about faith is that it is unshakeable," said Cheek about the importance of spirituality as a component of CSF. "But you cannot build yourself around a single pillar or you are going to be at risk. You must use all of those pillars to build a sturdy foundation that will not falter."
The spiritual event came at a crucial time as 3rd BCT prepares to return to Fort Stewart, Ga., added Cheek.
"I hope that this allows them to work on themselves as a person so that they go back to their families as a stronger person," said Bailey. "All in all, I think it sends a better soldier back to the United States."
That was exactly the case for Spc. Joshua Dicker, signal and support systems specialist for Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 1st Battalion, 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd BCT, 3rd Inf. Div., who said that his battalion's emphasis on spirituality helped to restore and build his faith.
"A lot of people don't realize it but deploying is stressful, and faith gives you something to lean on. Once I reach for my faith, everything calms down, I can think clearer, and all the stress goes away," said Dicker. "I've been here eight months, and I've seen a completely different side of things and it's helped to slowly turn my life around. I'm proud to go home to my family a stronger person."