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1st Regiment of the Reserve Officers’ Training Corps’ Advanced Camp, stopped to rest and refit at Densberger Base Camp, Ft. Knox, Ky., on June 16, 2022, during their 22nd day of Cadet Summer Training. They were greeted by the diverse members of the CST’s Chaplain Corps. The team of 12 Chaplains, five religious affairs specialists and 19 chaplain candidates, works through the summer to ensure that the future Army officers can remain spiritually, as well as, physically and mentally fit.
“As force multipliers, we provide for the spiritual health of the Cadets,” said Lt. Col. Philip Jeon, the senior chaplain at cadet command. “The Army takes care of them physically, PT, food and hygiene, their physical strength. All those things are very important.”
“As chaplains, we take care of that other element of the holistic human perspective,” said Jeon. “We take care of them as a human being.”
Half hour services were held at a variety of locations around the base-camp. The team offered services for Protestants, Latter Day Saints, Jews and Buddhists, scheduled services for Catholics later in the week and made space available to conduct Islamic prayer.
Capt. Pitt Visessuk, a Thervada Buddhist chaplain, offered a meditation time for Buddhist practitioners at the camp’s headquarters building.
“We are trying our best to accommodate and take care of everyone while they’re here,” said Visessuk.
Visessuk said that 2022 is the first year he has worked for CST and he described his experience with the cadets as being exciting so far.
“It’s messy, but fun,” said Visessuk. “Everyone comes from all walks of life here and now they have to kind of transform.”
“It’s messy because everyone is trying to get into this new mindset, all uniform. It’s fun because you get to overcome the hardships and learn to be disciplined and to live together communally.”
“It’s like a tree, we can water and fertilize them, but it’s up to them to grow,” said Visessuk.
Maj. Daniel I. Goldman, an Orthodox Jewish chaplain, whom his friends and colleagues refer to as ‘The Rabbi,’ has worked with CST since its inception.
“I was stationed in Ft. Knox from 2011 to 2013, back then it was called LTC or Leader’s Training Course,” said Goldman.
“It’s a privilege, you know, to get to keep coming back, to have leadership that wants me to come back,” said Goldman. “The most rewarding part is to get to see that transition, from basic camp to advanced camp to second lieutenants.”
“When you get to see the influence that you’re able to have and really see it, it’s very rewarding,” said Goldman. “We’re not all privileged to see the fruits of our labor.”
Goldman held a brief service at the base-camp headquarters in the early afternoon, where Jewish soldiers read scripture and held discussions. Each regiment is given time to rest on the 22nd day of their training at CST. Though the Chaplains offer weekly services at regular intervals, they also take advantage of the free time to ensure that the needs of their faith group are met as they enter the most daunting part of their training, the FTX, or field training exercise.
“There are challenges,” said Goldman. “Numbers of different challenges in fact. How do we manage to execute chaplain services in an outdoor setting? How do we mitigate those risks? How do we keep them safe?”
"It’s really not about us though,” said Goldman. “It’s about what we can do for the cadets and for the cadre. Every person has value and each brings some uniqueness to the table. That is so critical for mission success.”
About Army ROTC
Army ROTC is one of the best leadership courses in the country and is part of your college curriculum. Through classes and field training, Army ROTC provides you with the tools to become an Army Officer without interfering with your other classes. ROTC also provides you with discipline and money for tuition while enhancing your college experience.
Army ROTC offers pathways to becoming an Army Officer for high school students, current active duty Soldiers, and for current National Guard and Army Reserve Soldiers through the Simultaneous Membership Program.