By Mike Strasser, Fort Drum Garrison Public AffairsJuly 17, 2019
FORT DRUM, N.Y. (July 17, 2019) -- Refresher training is something that Soldiers know all too well, and even U.S. Army chaplains require it.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) James Foster, the 10th Mountain Division (LI) Chaplain, was in Irving, Texas, for a week of annual denominational training, June 24-28, which included leadership seminars, an ordination service and other worship opportunities for members of the Pentecostal Church of God.
Foster described it as a chance for chaplains to engage in fellowship and recalibrate themselves within their faith.
"It motivates you, encourages you and re-energizes you," he said. "The Chaplain Corps is a pluralistic environment, so once a year we go back to our home church to get our training, and it kind of gives us some time to re-center, or refresh us, in our denomination."
The week also included the Pentecostal Church of God Chaplain of the Year presentation, and to Foster's surprise, he was named this year's recipient.
"I'm humbled by it," Foster said. "It means a lot to me because I grew up in this church, and when I started as an Army Chaplain there was probably only four or five of us in this denomination. And now we've grown to about 50 chaplains (across all branches). To see this growth happen is pretty cool."
Foster had served as the garrison chaplain for U.S. Army Garrison Italy before arriving at Fort Drum in the summer of 2017 where he was first assigned as deputy garrison chaplain before moving to the Division. He entered the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps in 2000.
"It's really a personal calling. I was at Bible College when I felt like God was calling me into the chaplain ministry," Foster said. "I didn't have a sense of what branch or which component, but I took it upon myself to research each one before deciding to go active duty with the Army."
Foster said that he was happy with his decision to "go Army" because it afforded him a great opportunity to be engaged with Soldiers and their families and support their spiritual needs.
"At every level of the chaplaincy, there is care and compassion on an individual basis if a Soldier comes in with a concern, or there's a leader who is struggling with something," he said. "Every Soldier needs to understand that there is hope, and that the more they dig into their spirituality or faith background, they're going to progress and do better."
He also said that serving as a division chaplain and working with the various unit ministry teams is equally rewarding.
"A lot of the mentorship and coaching of the chaplains throughout the division rests in our office, it's an honor and it is exciting all at the same time to do this," he said. "At the division level, we train, empower and set the tone for the brigade chaplains, as they do for the battalion chaplains, so the health of the formation is strong at every level."