Care for the Wounded: Unit Ministry Teams Integrate into Joint Emergency Medical Exercise

By CH (LTC) Bradley KattelmannJune 10, 2024

FORT CAVAZOS, Texas — From 3-7 June 2024, 37 chaplain and religious affairs specialists from III Armored Corps and Fort Cavazos, TX participated in the 2024 Joint Emergency Medical Exercise with Carl R. Darnall Army Medical Center (CRDAMC) and honed their skills at providing Care for the Wounded. The week-long exercise was a resounding success with Unit Ministry Teams better trained for one of their critical tasks in Large Scale Combat Operations (LSCO).

The 2024 Joint Emergency Medical Exercise was a week-long training event which brought together approximately 1,500 Joint Service personnel representing 50 medical specialties from 60 different units across Fort Cavazos, the Tri-Services, DoD affiliates, and NATO partnerships.

UMT Integration: A Vital Component

One of the standout features of this year’s JEMX was the seamless integration of Unit Ministry Teams (UMTs) into the training. These UMTs received specialized instruction in End-of-Life care with the assistance of the Fort Cavazos Mortuary Affairs Detachment, and the UMTs provided religious support to wounded Soldiers at training lanes designed to be “Point of Injury” and a Role 1 aid station.

Chaplain (CPT) Ian Roberts and Specialist John Wills, both of 720th Military Police Battalion, work jointly to stabilize a patient at the Role 1 Aid Station.
Chaplain (CPT) Ian Roberts and Specialist John Wills, both of 720th Military Police Battalion, work jointly to stabilize a patient at the Role 1 Aid Station. (Photo Credit: CH (LTC) Jason Unsworth) VIEW ORIGINAL
UMTs and Large-Scale Combat Operations

In the context of LSCO, UMTs play a critical role. As the chaos of battle unfolds, UMTs are not only providers of religious services but also providers of emotional and psychological support. Their ability to offer solace, counsel, and a listening ear to wounded warriors is essential for maintaining morale and resilience.

“Care for the Wounded”: A Core Competency

The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps recognizes “Care for the Wounded” as a core competency. UMTs undergo rigorous training to prepare for this care when they must minister to injured Soldiers, regardless of faith background. The Fort Cavazos UMTs have been training toward JEMX during the past year with multiple days of training leading up to this exercise.

The first training focused on planning Religious Support during LSCO and positioning UMTs within the area of operations to best mass religious support prior to combat operations. The 1st Cavalry Division’s Chaplain Section shared lessons learned from previous training exercises. Later in the year, the CRDAMC UMT led training on trauma care, moral injury, and traumatic event management. Finally, the UMTs spent a day focusing on Army Training Publication 1-05.05, Religious Support and Casualty Affairs.

Their presence during medical exercises like JEMX ensures that the UMTs understand how to provide wounded personnel not only physical care but also spiritual and emotional support. Additionally, the UMTs provided care to the medical providers as the stress elevated during the training scenario.

Collaborative Partnership: CRDAMC, 1st Medical Brigade, and First Army Chaplain Corps OC/Ts

The success of JEMX was further amplified by the collaborative partnership between the medical teams at CRDAMC, the UMTs of CRDAMC, 1st Medical Brigade, and the Chaplain Corps Observer Coach/Trainers (OC/Ts) from First Army. CRDAMC and 1st Medical Brigade UMTs elevated the training with their extensive experience in medical settings. First Army participated with 11 OC/Ts providing the critical elements of observation, coaching, training and conducting After Action Reviews. Their unique skillsets and commitment to excellence elevated the quality of training for all participants.

The medical and unit ministry teams stabilized patients following a simulated indirect fire attack.
The medical and unit ministry teams stabilized patients following a simulated indirect fire attack. (Photo Credit: Staff Sergeant Brian Cardenas) VIEW ORIGINAL

One of the chaplain participants reflected on the training: “This was excellent training, and I appreciated the honesty of the OC/Ts. The continual drilling to make the medical and UMT assets comfortable working together in these moments (as best we can simulate them) will be vital to the future.”

Reflecting on the exercise, Chaplain (COL) Douglas Ball, the III Armored Corps Chaplain, shared his perspective: “In my 25 years of Army chaplaincy, this is by far the best collaborative medical training I have witnessed for Unit Ministry Teams. A huge component of the success for our training audience was the partnership with CRDAMC, 1st Medical Brigade, and the First Army UMTs. We could not have pulled as high-quality training without everyone from Team Cavazos pitching in.”

One of the medical trainers emphasized the positive impact of UMTs: “Initially, I thought that it was going to be difficult having the chaplains on the lanes, but they have been super helpful in the tactical sense while also doing what chaplains do, and it’s been an improvement to the lane instead of a hindrance; it’s been rock solid.”

Strengthening Readiness and Interoperability

As participants return to their respective units, the lessons learned during JEMX will undoubtedly enhance combat readiness and foster improved religious support in combat operations. The commitment of all involved—from medical professionals to chaplains—underscores the importance of such training events.