By Sgt. Eric-James EstradaJune 13, 2013
JOINT BASE ELMENDORF-RICHARDSON, Alaska- Military chaplains have a rich history, dating back to the first world war, of supplying more than just spiritual and religious needs to soldiers and their families, regardless of their beliefs or forms of worship.
The recent deployment of the 4th Brigade Combat Team (Airborne), 25th Infantry Division to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom XII-XIII led one unit ministry team to achieve recognition as the United States Army Pacific Command Brigade Unit Ministry Team of the year for their example of what a brigade level UMT can do to maximize participation of strong bonds events.
"I've got 32 years in service," said U.S. Army Col. Richard Quinn, the United States Army Alaska command chaplain. "Lots and lots of strong bonds events that I've either seen or conducted, but I've never seen it done to the quality of level that these two did as a unit ministry team."
Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program held at an offsite retreat location, providing a fun and safe atmosphere to concentrate on the impact of relocations, deployments, and military lifestyle stressors.
"These two did the deployment strong bonds events," said Quinn. "And they brought in multiple different people using wives, spouses, and other support characters from out of the chapel."
U.S. Army Maj. Steven Lambert, an Army Reserve chaplain, hailing from Eagle River, Alaska, and U.S. Army Spc. Kathryn Harwick, a chaplain's assistant, hailing from Blacksburg, S.C., were recognized for their ability to host multiple strong bonds events for the rear detachment single soldiers and spouses of deployed military.
"It's an honor to receive it, but we can't take the credit because we all know that it's a one team, one fight," said Lambert.
Lambert also acknowledged the tremendous and constant support the team received from USARAK, USARPAC and the Spartan Brigade.
"If we hadn't been in partnership any success would have never occurred," said Lambert. "Obviously God gets the credit in the end."
Harwick was unable to deploy with the Spartan Brigade due to injuries, but found a new opportunity to help the families left behind.
"I've learned so much from Chaplain Lambert," said Harwick. "Just being nominated was an honor for the both of us."
Their efforts to help support the families emotionally and spiritually were noticed from the combat zone that the Spartan Brigade operated from for 10 months. The deployed unit ministry team wanted to ensure that Lambert and Harwick's efforts were recognized. Those efforts ultimately culminated in the team's recognition as the best USARPAC Brigade UMT.
"Pretty amazing when you look at what they have and what they were doing and worked with," said Quinn.