U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Matt
Glaros, 48th Fighter Wing, RAF Lakenheath, England, prays for a
patient during Shared Resilience 2012 here June 5. During the
two-week exercise, Glaros and Tech. Sgt. Andrew Morgan, 48th FW,
organized church services and activities for service members. More
than 500 military members from nine nations are participating in
SR12, an annual U.S. Joint Chiefs of Staff-sponsored exercise, May
28 - June 8. The goals of the exercise are to strengthen
interoperability, facilitate training in crisis response and
disaster management, and validate the readiness of deployable
military medical and humanitarian assistance teams. The exercise, in
the spirit of partnership for peace, directly supports U.S. European
Command's theater cooperation efforts and strategy for active
security with European countries. Photo by USAF Staff Sgt. Daryl
CAPLJINA, Bosnia and Herzegovina (6/6/2012) - The pain consumes your
There is nothing but agony, a throbbing cadence brought
about by the tattered flesh of what used to be your body.
hear the ambulance siren, although it sounds distant — as if your
ears are plugged with cotton. Someone's asking a question, and rough
hands lift you onto a litter. The pain of being lifted shatters your
consciousness. Darkness engulfs your thoughts.
You awake upon
a table inside what appears to be a tent. It's cold, and the smell
of disinfectant lingers in the air. The pain is still there, but
it's ebbing. In fact, you can't feel your limbs at all.
warm hand plants itself upon your brow. Gentle words are spoken into
your ear. You ease into comfort, close your eyes and know no more.
The scenarios at Shared Resilience 2012, an international
medical exercise, are testing the one U.S. chaplain team here June
Simulated earthquakes, fires and vehicle accidents are
some of the driving forces of the mass casualties processed and
treated by the joint medical teams inside the mobile hospital tents.
Some of the mock victims survive the exercise, and some do not. U.S.
Air Force Chaplain (Capt.) Matt Glaros, 48th Fighter Wing, RAF
Lakenheath, England, and assistant are with the patients all the way
to the end.
"It's a sacred time when a soul goes to meet
God," he said. "We're here to be the compassionate, non-judgmental
presence to make a person right with God, so they can die in peace."
The medical professionals from RAF Lakenheath are good at what
they do with taking care of the body, he continued. But the
chaplains take care of the mind, specifically in regards to
spirituality. Spiritual first aid is as important, if not more, as
"Death is a natural part of God's journey for
us," said Glaros. "Some medical professionals count mission
success in terms of if a patient does or doesn't die. However, it's
still a success if a person does die
but is surrounded by people who care for and love him."
Glaros said that some chaplains integrate with medical
teams during contingencies, emergency situations or
humanitarian efforts to provide that human link. Patients
who are inconsolable even with medicine can sometimes
connect and be calmed with a prayer or kind words.
The medical professionals and chaplains form an
interdisciplinary team that works together to provide the
best care possible to a patient. Spiritual triage, similar
to medical prioritization, allows the chaplain to take care
of the most urgent needs first. The acronym LIDO explains
the guide: life-threatening, intense psychological or
emotional pain, duress or day-to-day stress, and all other
The chaplain said he uses the guide to
determine where his efforts are needed most.
who have significant life changes — or who are on the cusp
of death, as in this exercise — can sometimes ask questions
about the point of life, human nature and the significance
of it all, he said. Chaplains can answer some of those
questions and set the person at ease.
something to lean on," said Tech. Sgt. Andrew Morgan, 48th
FW chaplain's assistant. "Especially in humanitarian
missions or during long deployments in those austere
They need to process suffering in a
redemptive way, Glaros said. It may not be easy to suffer or
grieve, but spirituality gives a person a rock-solid
foundation, an undying hope or a light at the end of the
Faith acts as a resiliency tool even in a
crisis situation, he continued. Patients, and the caregivers
themselves, can believe in a higher force to achieve a peace
"After every dark night, there is
the dawn of a new day," he said. "In the darkest of night,
how do you sit? Do you turn to prayer? Do you handle life's
difficulties creatively, or do you let it bring you down?"
Glaros and Morgan will continue to integrate with the
medical professions and build Airman resiliency as the
exercise continues until June 8.
The chaplain removes
his hand from the cooling forehead of the now deceased. He
brushes his hand across the dead's face, closing the eyes.
He bids the soul a safe journey and continues to the next
patient awaiting last rites.
By USAF Staff Sgt. Daryl Knee
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