Unit Ministry Teams traversed the North Country to attend Fort Drum and 10th Mountain Division's (LI) inaugural UMT formal Feb. 11, 2020, at The Commons.
The host was Col. Eddie Kinley, Fort Drum Command Chaplain, and included guest speaker Chaplain Col. (Ret.) Carleton Birch.
The formal included representatives from the 10th Combat Aviation Brigade, 1st BCT, 3rd BCT, and Division Headquarters. This provided some chaplains the chance to connect for the first time because the 3rd Brigade Combat Team is stationed at Fort Polk, La.
"We weren't just giving the invocation and forgot about," said 1st Lt. Luke Redmond, a chaplain with 3rd BCT. "Everybody there was a chaplain, religious affairs specialist, or civilian that works in the chapel. It was great to fellowship as a group collectively."
A military ball involves a chaplain giving the invocation to begin, the benediction to conclude the event, and they leave once the festivities turn away from their typical interest. This year's UMT formal was dedicated to the ministry teams, affording everyone had the opportunity to indulge and participate as members of the social, not as a speaker, or organizer.
"The purpose was to bring together all the unit ministry teams to encourage, support and give an opportunity to build comradery and esprit de corps, amongst ourselves before the rest of the division deploys," said Lt. Col. James Foster, 10th Mountain Division (LI) Chaplain.
Each commander has a unit ministry team responsible for the religious support of the unit. A chaplain, and a religious affairs specialist representing the officer and enlisted ranks.
"It has been difficult to get us all in one place, at one time, but with the urgency deployments, the desire of the command chaplain and ourselves are to make sure we build a cohesive team before we disperse," said Foster.
The CAB is currently deployed, followed by deployments of 1st BCT and the Division Headquarters.
"We wanted to build up our UMTs before they deploy, and we realize that this would be the last time in the next 18 months or so that we'll all be together," Foster said. "Our goal is to make this an annual event or bi-annual event, so we can continue working on our team building and building one another up."