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FORT LEONARD WOOD, Mo. — “The Soldier’s heart, the Soldier’s spirit, the Soldier’s soul, are everything. Unless the Soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his commander and his country in the end.”

Those words were uttered by Gen. George Marshall, who knew a thing or two about what motivates Soldiers. Marshall served more than 50 years, including stints as Army Chief of Staff, Secretary of Defense and Secretary of State during and in the years following World War II — the U.S. economic and political commitment to post-war Europe bears his name and is commonly known as the Marshall Plan.

In line with Marshall’s words, Field Manual 7-22 outlines the Army’s focus on a holistic — or whole — approach to the health and fitness of its Soldiers, which includes spirituality.

A person’s purpose, values, beliefs, identity and life vision are all part of spirituality, according to the Army, and chaplains here help ensure Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers and civilians are spiritually fit.

“When we look at those characteristics, we see key functions to our personal well-being,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brad Godding, who took on the role of Maneuver Support Center of Excellence command chaplain in February. “Purpose enables all of us to see beyond the moment, beliefs provide us a framework to operate in. When I know who I am, my identity, it provides me a framework to see the world. It also gives me the ability to differentiate myself from what I am not. For example, I will fail in life, but I am not a failure. Spiritual readiness enables a person in stress to be more resilient. It can be the stress of combat or providing for my family while in a home station training environment.”

To assist the population here in building resiliency through spiritual readiness, Godding has organized monthly events, where Fort Leonard Wood Soldiers and civilians can come together with a chaplain, share a small meal and have a discussion in an informal setting. He said he hopes each participant comes away with an awareness of their spiritual readiness.

“Perhaps they are encouraged about how things are going or perhaps they identify an area to improve,” he said. “Much like an individual’s physical readiness, spiritual readiness needs attention for us to function at our best.”

Godding said although people form their own definitions of spirituality, taking time to reflect on spiritual readiness gives individuals a chance to also focus on what motivates them.

“My purpose or life mission can provide me with perspective during difficult times,” he said. “If we fail to keep the right azimuth — forget why we serve, for example — we can look up several assignments later only to realize we are off course. Perhaps our value of family has fallen off because we allowed the job to get in the way. Perhaps instead of seeing ourselves as a person connected to others with hopes and dreams, we could lose our identity and see ourselves only as a Soldier.”

Another strength to pausing for spiritual reflection, Godding said, is that it helps people to treat others with dignity and respect.

“Through reflection, we gain understanding of our challenges,” he said. “We see the issue as the challenge and not the people. When we have a healthy spiritual readiness posture, we become more resilient because it creates balance in our lives.”

Godding gave an example of a time in his life when spirituality gave him resilience.

“I know when I was in Iraq, in a combat zone, facing many uncertainties, the spiritual strength I found in my faith was critical,” he said. “My hope and purpose was greater than the moment and the U.S. Army; it is in the knowledge that I am serving God by serving Soldiers.”

Godding also pointed to the challenges posed by the isolation people felt during the pandemic.

“My spiritual readiness was bolstered during that time through relationships with others,” he said. “Having those with whom we can share the journey, enhances our spiritual readiness for any moment. My life-value of relationship enhanced my ability to overcome the feelings of isolation due to COVID.”

Godding’s first spiritual readiness event here took place on May 26, when members of several MSCoE and Fort Leonard Wood organizations met for breakfast at Countee Hall. Joe Carberry, labor counsel with the Office of the Staff Judge Advocate, called it a very positive experience.

“I enjoyed the reminder that though we all have our own journeys to walk in life, we are a part of something bigger than ourselves — both as employees of the Department of the Army and as spiritual travelers,” he said. “Also, it is healthy to see one’s coworkers — civilian and military — as more than just people one must interact with in order to get a paycheck.”

Godding, who has served as an Army chaplain for more than 20 years, said he has organized and participated in multiple events like this over the years, helping people realize life is greater than any one individual, and everyone is part of something greater than themselves.

“My desire is to be an agent that provides them space to identify how they can grow and remain active in their spiritual readiness,” he said.