Chaplains Reinforce More Than Faith
(May 31, 2009)
Army Chaplain (Maj.) Chuck B. Rizer, front right, gets into the action with the brigade staff as he competes in the brigade staff Olympics at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq, Feb. 27, 2009
Army photo by Capt. Stephen C. Short
|FORWARD OPERATING BASE
KALSU, Iraq, May 19, 2009
something every unit loves to have -- more
soldiers help to win the fight and save lives at
the same time.
The duty of being a soldier can be difficult at
times, and no matter how many extra soldiers
arrive to the battlefield, the burden sometimes
just does not seem to lift.
For warriors who know how heavy that burden can
feel, one of the reinforcements all branches of
service have come to count on in time of need is
Army Chaplain (Maj.) Chuck B. Rizer, 172nd
Infantry Brigade chaplain, believes all faiths
-- and even agnostics or atheists -- can receive
help from a chaplain.
The Army expects chaplains to observe the
distinctive doctrines of their faith while also
honoring the right of others to observe their
own faith in accordance with U.S. laws and
regulations, he explained.
“I've had Catholics come to me and say, ‘I want
to be a better Catholic,'” said Rizer, a
resident of Chicago. “I've had Christians,
non-Christians and even atheists come to me and
say they want to have a better relationship with
their spouse.” The military is a diverse
environment, with rabbis, ministers, imams and
priests who serve with conviction and
commitment, he added.
Rizer said he spends much of his time
counseling soldiers on marital issues, and that he finds
certain principles apply to all people and faiths.
“I often tell people that if you want your spouse or
significant other to stay with you, then you need to be
going somewhere,” he said. “You can see the enthusiasm in
their eyes when they have a plan and others are attracted to
Some soldiers need help dealing with anger. Rizer has seen
that getting sleep and attending to basic needs are some of
the simple solutions he is able to help people find in
dealing with anger.
“If a child doesn't get their sleep, food or other basic
needs, then of course they get angry,” he explained. “We are
more mature than that, but we need to have some of our basic
needs met, or we become cranky or angry.”
Rizer said he believes diet, exercise and
just talking it out or venting to him is a good way to get
over anger issues.
“If you take one straw off a camel's back, it may be just
enough to keep him moving,” he said. “It is the little
things that you change [that] can be all the difference in
starting a chain of good things happening.”
Army Chaplain (Capt.) Richard O. Nevard Jr., 9th Engineer
Battalion chaplain, said he sees the chaplain as being out
with the soldiers where they are and doing what they are
“I go out where they are and I see the results of what we
have worked on, and I even see the results happen here while
the session is going on in the office,” said Nevard, a New
Smyrna Beach, Fla., native.
The brigade dedicated the
Chaplain's Coffee House on April 23 to all
soldiers, which gives them a place to relax. The
coffee house has a connecting hallway that runs
right by the chaplain's office, which makes it
easy for soldiers to stop by any time and ask to
talk. Nevard's office attaches to the coffee
house and has a uniquely decorated area for
sitting down and talking.
“There's not an hour that goes by that a soldier is not
coming by and knocking on the door to ask if you have a
minute,” stated Nevard. “I am like, ‘Come on in, and let's
Chaplains also are responsible for caring for the soldiers'
families, and often may find themselves serving the
spiritual needs of sailors, airmen or Marines as well as
Battalion chaplains occupy offices to the left and right of the Chaplain's Coffee House at Forward Operating Base Kalsu, Iraq. The coffee house is a place for soldiers to relax and enjoy a drink, but also to give them a chance to talk. U.S. Army photo by Pfc. Bethany L. Little
“I have talked with spouses back home,” Nevard said. “They
e-mail me or I call them, because I already have that
connection with them since I've done the marriage retreats
back in the rear.”
Chaplains can be new to deployment as well. Army Chaplain
(Capt.) Frank Halka, 172nd Support Battalion chaplain, spent
six years in garrisons serving as a Catholic priest and saw
a different perspective of deployments by counseling those
family members not deployed.
“You see what families go through in the rear, and you are
better able to help the soldier here in Iraq, because you
can relate to both environments,” he said.
Chaplains are available any time to help, whether deployed
or back home in garrison.
“I see myself being useful to the soldiers when I'm there to
listen to them and hear what they are going through,” Halka
said. “That is part of the healing process.”
Army Capt. Stephen C. Short
172nd Infantry Brigade
American Forces Press Service
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