By Maj Carlos M. Cuebas, 1st MSC PAOMarch 26, 2013
Fort Buchanan, PR (March 26, 2013)- The Chaplains assigned to the Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, play an instrumental role in preparing soldiers to deploy, especially during Holy Week. With their service, military Chaplains ensure soldiers and families are ready to face the difficulties that a mobilization presents.
In a command that has deployed approximately 5,000 soldiers since the year 2001, the mental and emotional health of the troops and families is paramount.
"In the Army Reserve-Puerto Rico, we not only look after the physical readiness of our soldiers. We must also ensure they are emotionally and mentally ready to perform their jobs while deployed," said MAJ (CH) Peter Agdamag, Deputy Commander Chaplain of the largest US Army Reserve Command in the Caribbean.
The Army Reserve's objective is to develop soldiers and family members who are resilient and able to continue serving the nation in times of mobilizations and deployments.
During deployments, soldiers are exposed to high levels of stress due to the austere conditions of the places where they usually work, as well as the combat environment, coupled with the family separation anxiety.
Having a religious leader in uniform, available at any time in a combat zone, reduces the stress levels of the troops.
US Army Reserve Chaplains deploy anywhere soldiers deploy. There, the Chaplains perform religious services, counseling and ensure every troop is free to exercise their freedom of religion, whatever that religion may be. Military chaplains equally serve soldiers and families of all religions and denominations.
"We do not carry a weapon in combat. Our only weapon is the ability to ensure every troop can exercise his or her freedom of religion," said Chaplain Candidate 2nd lt. Monserrate Vergara, who has served the US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico for 12 years as enlisted, before accepting a commission. Vergara is currently pursuing a Master Degree in Theology.
One of the programs that the Chaplains from the US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico successfully implement to serve troops and families is the Strong Bonds program. Through Strong Bonds, the Army Reserve-Puerto Rico educates troops and family members about family relations, communication and crisis management, all in a high rated hotel in the Caribbean island, all expenses paid.
The role of the Chaplains in the US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico takes special precedence as we observe Holy Week, and as hundreds of local troops continue serving in Afghanistan and others prepare to deploy in the near future.
Those soldiers or family members interested in knowing more about the services offered by the US Army Reserve-Puerto Rico Chaplains can contact Maj. (CH) Peter Agdamag at 787-707-4956.