There is an often used quote that says, “The Army enlist Soldiers, but reenlists Families.”
U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School Commandant, Chap. (Col.) Bryan Walker offers a different perspective.
“Without the support of Families and friends we would not have people in the Army,” Walker said. “When a younger person makes a decision to come in, they talk to Family members. If a Family member says, ‘no’ that’s the worst thing you can do, they don’t come in the Army. When the Family says we’re supportive, then they come in.”
Families were very much a part of May 20 activities as Soldiers in class 21-008 graduated from their seven-week training course to earn the 56M, religious affairs specialists, military occupational specialty in front of their loved ones.
The Soldiers were allowed to meet with their Family members who attended after the graduation. The Families had not seen their Soldier since they left for Basic Combat Training weeks before.
The last in-person graduation was held in March 2020. The graduations are held in the Chaplain School Auditorium on the campus grounds at Fort Jackson.
It was the second class of the school year to have Family members in attendance. There was one Soldier in the previous class who had Family members in attendance, but there were seven Soldiers with Families in attendance for the class 21-008 graduation.
Each of the Soldiers stood and proudly introduced their Family members in attendance at the graduation. Chaplain School senior enlisted leader, Command Sgt. Maj. John Tanchak joked with one of the Soldiers.
“Holy cow! You have about 30 people back there,” Tanchak said. “It’s been some time since we’ve had Families here. (It has been) like over a year. So give them all a round of applause. Thank you for coming, thank you for your sons or your daughters, for your future husbands or wives. Thank you so much for letting them serve.”
As the Army nears its 246th Birthday on June 14, the school acknowledged the Soldiers serve our nation with honor and dignity, bringing a variety of skill-sets in career choices as chaplains and the 56M, religious affairs specialists. The chaplain and religious affairs specialist embody the core Army values as they work together as part of the unit ministry team to provide religious support services to our Soldiers, Families and Army civilians.
The next generation of religious affairs specialists of class 21-008 are now prepared to join Active Duty, Reserve and National Guard units worldwide to perform their roles in caring for the soul of the Army.
The COVID-19 pandemic and other worldwide events will provide the test of their courage and patriotism.
“This year has tested our Soldiers in more ways than one, but we are committed to ensuring that our People remain ready for any challenge in defense of our country,” Sergeant Major of the Army Michael A. Grinston said recently.
The Chaplain School looks forward to seeing more Family members attend graduations.
“I think having Families join us for graduation has boosted morale and excitement among the graduates. Onlookers getting to see Soldiers hug their Families and the explosion of excitement is contagious among cadre and students,” said Initial Military Training Division Chief, Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Archie Durham. “Going forward the prospect of the pandemic easing and more Families attending will generate even more enthusiasm among all students about to take on the name, religious affairs specialist.”
The Chaplain School’s Training Directorate and IMT Leadership extended an invitation to immediate Family members and friends to attend the graduation of Advanced Individual Training Soldiers in the USACHCS Auditorium.
The guidelines for attendance:
-All attending Family members and guests over the age of 16 must be fully vaccinated against the COVID-19 virus to enter the installation. Proof of vaccination is required upon arrival.
-Family members are allocated some time to spend with their Soldier after graduation.
Facebook live is available for those who are not able to attend.
For more information about AIT graduation attendance, contact Sgt. 1st Class Niesha Mcknight at firstname.lastname@example.org or (803) 751-8938.