Breakfast aims at spiritual readiness

By Robert TimmonsMay 9, 2024

1 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kenneth May sings during the National Day of Prayer Breakfast held, May 2 at the 1917 Club on post. The post merged two national events into a single event. (Photo Credit: Nathan Clinebelle) VIEW ORIGINAL
2 / 2 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Kenneth Dwyer, Leader Training Brigade commander, speaks about the need for spiritual resilience during the National Day of Prayer Breakfast held May 2 at the 1917 Club. (Photo Credit: Nathan Clinebelle) VIEW ORIGINAL

“Scripture tells us to rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, and be constant in prayer,” wrote President Joe Biden in the 2024 National Day of Prayer declaration. “This year, my prayer for our Nation is that we keep faith that our best days are ahead of us and continue to believe in honesty, decency, dignity, and respect. May we see each other not as enemies but as fellow human beings, each made in the image of God and each precious in His sight. May we leave no one behind, give everyone a fair shot, and give hate no safe harbor. May we remember that nothing is beyond our capacity if we act together.”

Biden declared May 2, 2024, to be a National Day of Prayer and Fort Jackson joined in with a breakfast held at the 1917 Club.

The National Day of Prayer is not only a chance for different faiths on post to come together to pray for the country, it was also a time to build resilience.

For Col. Kenneth Dwyer, resilience isn’t just a part of his job (as Leader Training Brigade commander he heads the Holistic Health and Fitness Academy and the Master Resiliency School) but is a way of life.

Dwyer spoke during the breakfast about “how we as human beings can build resiliency through our faith and through our Family and through our brothers and sisters of believers.”

Dwyer was seriously wounded in a firefight during his third combat tour in Afghanistan.

He was helping his Mk-19 gunner reload when a rocket-propelled grenade exploded detonating 40mm grenades he was holding. He instantly lost his hand and shrapnel also took out his left eye and some of his teeth.

He said he was initially angry he was hurt, but a second feeling came over him.

“My next thought was peace,” he said. “At least my soul is taken care of, and I know this for certain …”

“I am only here today because of the men and women in the United States Army are more concerned with the livelihood and lives of the people around them than they are concerned with themselves. My team put themselves into the path of the kill zone because they were more concerned about me.”

His recuperation from his injuries was tough and he would sit for days celebrating each individual win of moving a finger just a little more, not knowing if he would ever “get back to the point where I was functioning human being.”

Dwyer would continue to move his fingers little by little “believing that God has a plan for our lives, regardless of the situation.”

He said the first step in his resilience was surrounding himself with positive people. Some of those surrounding him were his family and “brothers and sisters of the faith that allow me to persevere. And I’m so thankful for that.”

Dwyer knows a lot about Army Field Manual 7-22 – Holistic Health and Fitness.

The FM “talks about spiritual readiness, which is an awesome obligation that we now have to tell our Soldiers and talk to our Soldiers about the spiritual component and readiness,” he said. “It talks about spiritual readiness being those things that reaffirm your principles, beliefs and values, and give you purpose and meaning in life.”

According to FM 7-22, para 3-21, “Soldiers who successfully develop, sustain, and repair their state of being while facing adversity demonstrate spiritual readiness. Leaders who understand spiritual readiness can encourage personal spiritual readiness by creating a climate of mutual respect and dignity that promotes dialogue, fosters team cohesion, and enables healthy free exercise of religion or no religion. This approach enables collective and individual readiness.”

The breakfast was a multi-faith event with prayers offered by chaplains of different faiths.

Dean Branham, with Church of Jesus Christ’s Latter Day Saints said a prayer for families. Catholic Chaplain (Maj.) Matthew Whitehead, with the Soldier Support Insitute, offered a prayer for the government. Muslim Chaplain (Capt.) Mustafa RahoUchen prayed for the military. Retired Maj. Gen. Jeff Jacobs, representing the Jewish faith said a prayer for the country.