Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem, U.S. Army chief of chaplains, and Sgt. Maj. Ralph Martinez, U.S. Army Chaplain Corps regimental sergeant major, visited U.S. Army Pacific Soldiers April 29 – May 3, Honolulu, Hawaii.
The Spiritual Readiness Initiative was introduced while they conducted their battlefield circulation meetings with Commanders, spouses and UMTs.
“It's important for us to be here with the Chaplain Corps members to give them an opportunity to ask us any questions,” said Martinez. “Not only questions about the Spiritual Readiness Initiative but just in general. Give them guidance on where the chaplaincy is going in the next 10-15 years and give them the opportunity to understand what's there for them as far as training and development and an in-depth reference to the Chief of Chaplains' priorities.”
Educating leaders, chaplain teams, and behavioral health teams, which are all a part of the Spiritual Readiness Initiative, make everyone aware and highlight the importance and value of holistic health and the spiritual pillar, Solhjem said.
"The Spiritual Readiness Initiative is an army initiative that flows from holistic health and fitness and the revision of FM 7-22 Chapter 10, the spiritual readiness component that we want to bring to the Army’s people with the assistance of Dr. Lisa Miller, who is our nation's leader in this area of spiritual life and a clinical psychologist," said Solhjem.
Miller graduated from Columbia University and has over 25 years of longitudinal research that shows scientifically proven evidence-based that everyone's born 30% spiritually innate and 70% of human spirituality is socialized, he said.
“Dr. Miller is shaping change in our culture through this partnership this year,” said Solhjem. “This is a big deal. It's consequential for all of us. It's consequential for our culture. It's needed not just for the military, but civil society.”
Miller identified a national crisis that translates as a national opportunity for the renewal of young adults ages 18-25 in the United States. The challenge these young adults face is the elevated rates of the diseases of despair: addiction, depression and suicide.
“The rate of death by suicide now rises to the rate by auto accidents in high school and it presses down into middle school,” said Miller.
Martinez explains that the Army is good at assessing and taking care of nutrition, sleep, mental illness, injuries, and physical fitness and not towards spiritual readiness, which is the driver for the Spiritual Readiness Initiative. The SRI will consist of an assessment that is able to help commanders and unit ministry teams identify where to focus in order to take care of adversity issues their Soldiers are facing.
“When you PCS from here and go to another organization, you will complete your spiritual readiness assessment,” said Martinez. “That data will follow you similar to their physical fitness test.”
The team has visited U.S. Army units in Alaska and will be heading to South Korea and Japan in the following weeks.
“It's imperative that we are about the business of investing in people, connecting them in spirit and cultivating new people and community,” said Solhjem. “Caring for people and the community are unit ministry team’s priorities as workers and a part of something larger than themselves. It's an unshakeable mission that is really timeless and they are afforded the opportunity to do something monumental,” said Solhjem.