FORT HOOD, Texas -- The Chaplain Corps was founded in 1775 and ordained clergy that are part of the program are commissioned Army officers of various faiths.
The 117th Chaplains detachment, 96th Special Troops Battalion received specialized training here on Oct. 30. The Utah U.S. Army reserve unit will be deployed to Iraq for nine months.
"As observer coach/trainers we are here to make the units aware of situations they may encounter," said Sgt. 1st Class Arthur Washington, a religious affairs specialist, with the Headquarters Support Company, 120th Infantry Brigade, First Army Division West.
To provide Soldiers with spiritual guidance, the chaplain cell can function with as little as two personnel.
"We came to this training to prepare ourselves and members of our unit for our mission," said 1st Lt. Filbert Ngwila, a chaplain with the 117th Chaplains Detachment. "We are a team of four but we will be split into two cells, that way we can be in multiple places to better serve the Soldiers."
For some service members this is there first deployment so it is important they be prepared and the training helps with that.
"This is my first deployment and the training I got with the OC/Ts showed me the importance of planning ahead," said Spc. Charles Garcia, a religious affairs specialist with the 117th Chaplain Detachment. "This training was unique and crucial because we were able to exercise our craft with other religious affairs teams."
To become a chaplain, candidates must have a least two years as a spiritual leader and be an ordained clergy in their practiced faith.
"In a deployment environment service members may experience stress, emotional events, or become homesick," said Ngwila. "Faith can be one of the tools that can be used to get through it and having a trusted advisor to talk to can be a great asset. I was an ordained minister in my community and this MOS fit me best."
After several weeks here, the detachment will deploy for approximately 400 days.
"We are going out to serve the Soldiers that are serving this nation and we carry the chaplain's corps motto with us ,'For God and Country,'" Ngwila said.