By Nathan Pfau, Army Flier Staff WriterJuly 29, 2016
FORT RUCKER, Ala. -- Spiritual resiliency plays a big part in the success of the nation's armed forces, and for more than 240 years Soldiers in the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps have served a purpose greater than self.
Fort Rucker celebrated the corps' 241st anniversary serving the Soldiers and family members of the Army with a celebration at Lake Tholocco's West Beach July 22 with a bit of fellowship and fun while remembering the importance of faith, said Chaplain (Col.) Dean Bonura, U.S. Army Aviation Center of Excellence and Fort Rucker garrison chaplain.
"The chaplaincy has demonstrated over the last 200 years its relevancy and importance," Bonura said. "As I see it, America's treasure has been entrusted to us in the Army, so one of the things that the Army wants to do is ensure the free exercise of faith … and we do our very best to provide for those Soldiers and family members."
Throughout the day, attendees learned about the history of the chaplaincy, as well as had time to spend together with a bit of food and fun, but it was the opportunity to freely express their faith that was the main goal of the day, Bonura said.
He added that faith serves an important role in the resiliency of Soldiers and that being able to exercise that faith freely is part of what makes America's armed forces great.
"Faith and religion is a big part of that spirituality and we can help in that area because each of us (chaplains) come from our own religious backgrounds," he said. "We also recognize a broader dimension of spirituality and we can help in those areas. We can challenge people to think about what it is that they believe, what it is that empowers them beyond themselves to do what we do."
It's that freedom of faith that allows those in today's Army, as well as those who have served in the past, to be able to complete their mission, according to Col. Shannon T. Miller, Fort Rucker garrison commander.
"What (the chaplaincy) means to us in the Army is that we absolutely cannot accomplish our mission without the support of the Chaplain Corps," said the garrison commander. "They provide that spiritual lifting that our Soldiers, families and our retirees need, as well as provide the support to our readiness and resiliency, and we need that to do our day-to-day mission."
U.S. Army chaplains represent six of the world's major religions: Protestant, Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, Buddhist and Hindu. Since 1775, about 25,000 Army chaplains have served as religious and spiritual leaders for more than 25 million Soldiers and family members, Bonura said.
Additionally, Army chaplains have served in more than 270 major wars and combat engagements, and 294 Army chaplains and 12 religious affairs specialists have laid down their lives in battle. Currently there are more than 2,900 chaplains serving the total Army representing over 140 different religious organizations, he added.
"That's all a part of selfless service," said Bonura. "How do you (provide that selfless service)? I think you can only do that by having a solid spirituality, so I believe those things are very important."
For Jamie Dornan, military spouse, having a strong base of faith is what helps her get through the often stressful times of military life.
"Our family has been through so many moves throughout the years, and a few deployments, and without our faith I really don't believe that our family would have been able to make it through," she said. "Our faith is what keeps our family strong through those tough times and I believe that without it we just wouldn't be able to make it through those hard times."