By Tony Lopez (First Army)May 24, 2013
ROCK ISLAND ARSENAL, ILL -- The First Army's Unit Ministry team hosted, 'Building Bridges for Resiliency,' an event designed to acquaint Quad City religious leaders with the resources available to support and foster resilient Soldiers and their families.
Many First Army Headquarters Civilians, Soldiers and their families live and worship in the Quad City area community. This May 23rd event supported the Army's 'Ready and Resilient Campaign' which creates a holistic approach and synchronizes multiple efforts and programs to improve the overall wellness of its Soldiers and their families.
The Ready and Resilient Campaign builds upon physical, emotional and psychological resilience in Soldiers, families and civilians so they may improve performance to deal with the rigors and challenges of a demanding profession.
"We called today's event, 'Building Bridges for Resiliency' because we live in an area joined by not only physical bridges but also by social bridges linking our communities," said Maj. Gen. Kendall Penn, First Army deputy commanding general. "This enables us to build a stronger community for the members of our military and Department of Army civilians and their families."
Following two long wars in Afghanistan and Iraq, service members have experienced many health issues, financial and marital problems and other personal issues due to multiple tours overseas and spending long separations from family and loved ones.
The event's briefings and panel discussion provided information concerning resources available to the religious community to assist in providing care to service members and their families who may be experiencing some of these issues. The panel included Teresa Pouch, Chief of Rock Island Arsenal's Army Community Services (ACS), Sgt. 1st Class Gavin Groves, the Rock Island Arsenal Health Clinic, Jackie Inman, USO Director, Rita Baugh, Army Substance Abuse Prevention, Nancy Offenhiser, Prevention Specialist for the Center for Alcohol and Drug Services and Chaplain (LTC) Jeff Zust, First Army chaplain.
"We are especially committed to ensure that our Army Reserve and National Guard family members receive community assistance when their Soldiers are mobilized in support of their duties," added Penn. "These families frequently have limited access to the kinds of services and support systems available to those who live on or near large military installations."
Religious leaders who attended the event received two resource booklets. "Ministering to Families Affected by Military Deployments," published by the Office of the Chief of Chaplains, is a handbook of informative resources to guide civilian clergy and religious organizations who wish to reach out and support military families.
The second booklet, "Connecting the Faith Community with Rock Island Arsenal Soldiers and Families," provides a comprehensive list of the Rock Island Arsenal's ACS programs and services available to Soldiers, families and civilians and includes phone numbers and contact information.
"At the end of the day, we envision a solid bridge of understanding between religious leaders, providers of support services in the Quad Cities and First Army and its mission to provide ready and resilient Soldiers prepared to serve our nation," said Penn. "We recognize this bridge is a two-way street and so we are reaching out to you as a center of support to aid us in the effort to build ready and resilient Soldiers and families."
"That's our bridge, to help our clergy who already have soldiers and (Department of the Army) civilians in their churches to ensure they have additional resources to care for the people who may be going through issues because of deployment," said Chaplain (COL) Michael Thomas, First Army command chaplain.
The mission of First Army is to advise, assist and train Reserve Component Soldiers during pre-mobilization periods. First Army mobilizes, trains, validates, deploys and demobilizes all Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve forces throughout the continental United States, providing trained, ready and resilient forces for diverse missions worldwide.