Jackson Religious Support Office Volunteer Ministry Appreciation Luncheon Oct. 18 at the NCO Club. The luncheon honored the countless hours Soldiers, civilians and retirees volunteered to ensure the RSO programs and services were successful throughout the year.

"We are here to recognize the spirit of excellence in religious support and to give honor where it is due to our ministry volunteers," said Lt. Col. Rodie Lamb, deputy garrison chaplain. "Volunteers who give their time and talent to augment what we do in providing religious support on Fort Jackson in order to increase spiritual readiness as we transform citizens into combat ready Soldiers."

According to the Christian Post webpage, October is recognized as National Clergy Month. It was established in 1992 with a mission of uplifting and encouraging pastors, missionaries and religious workers.

To continue the celebration, the post Religious Support Office hosted the luncheon to recognize volunteers, clergy and supporters of programs such as the Adopt-A-Soldier Program.

U.S. Army Training Center and Fort Jackson Commander Brig. Gen. Milford "Beags" Beagle, Jr. acted as the guest speaker and also presented awards along with Post Command Sgt. Maj. Jerimiah Gan.

"We define leadership as influencing people by providing purpose, direction and motivation. This is exactly what our clergy and volunteers do for us," Beagle said. "Our efforts to sustain our spiritual fitness and provide spiritual support to our Families, our Soldiers and to our civilians would be seriously handicapped without all of you and all of your efforts."

Beagle quoted a poem during his speech that spoke of two kinds of people, those who lift and those who lean. He implied installation clergy and volunteers were the kind of people who lift others up and help those in times they need to lean on others for support. "You're all leaders who lift," he said.

While this is Beagle's second year as guest speaker for the appreciation luncheon, the year's luncheon did offer a few firsts for the commander. After the conclusion of his speech, Beagle and Gan took center stage to award outstanding volunteers and clergy with plaques and their gratitude.

Ron and Sally Lester were honored for their service to the Latter Day Saints Chapel Service and were called to the stage. Once given their award, the Lester's asked for permission to take a selfie with the leadership team. "This is a first," Beagle said aloud with a chuckle as he and Gan smiled widely for the selfie stick extended smartphone. The dining room chuckled and clapped in response to the couple's selfie moment.

Another first for the leadership team came as Fredy Rivera was presented his award for his volunteer support of the Hispanic Protestant Service and asked for Beagle and Gan's autograph. "Another first," Beagle replied as he took Rivera's pen to sign his autograph.

Next to be recognized were three local churches that support the Adopt-A-Soldier Program. The congregations of those churches adopt trainees and Soldiers unable to travel home during the Christmas holiday to ensure they receive a home cooked meal and a chance to spend time with families who wish to show their love and support.

Capt. Ik Moon, the battalion chaplain for 3rd Battalion, 34th Infantry Regiment, and Sgt. Diane Hoang of the 165th Infantry Brigade were also recognized for their outstanding support of religious service programs.

As the ceremony came to an end, attendees were offered coffee, deserts and a chance to meet fellow volunteers and to fellowship together.

"I want to thank you for being consistent, reliable and committed to the uplift of others," Beagle said. "You provide us with intangibles that the ordinary eye can't see, the ordinary ear can't hear and the ordinary person couldn't understand. Words can't even begin to say thank you or show you true appreciation for what you do.