SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. - The soldiers file into the room and take
seats behind large hand drums placed by each chair, which have been
situated into a circle. The instructor advises them to take up the
drums and get ready to play. The soldiers sheepishly grab hold of
the drums in front of them and begin following the instructor's
A few minutes later, the sound of beating drums loudly
bounce off the walls. Smiles and laughter, and at times, flailing of
arms and dancing can be observed as the soldiers get more
comfortable with what they are doing.
This was just one part
of the training chaplains and chaplain's assistants from the Arizona
Army National Guard recently received during a recent spiritual
exercise held at the Franciscan Renewal Center in Scottsdale.
Chaplains and chaplain assistants from the Arizona Army National
Guard participate in a drumming therapy class during a recent
spiritual training course at the Franciscan Renewal Center in
Scottsdale, AZ on September 21, 2013. (U.S. Army photo by Sgt. Lauren Twigg)
The first-ever training entitled, “A Time for Renewal, A
Time for Growth, A Time to Connect,” was designed to help
chaplains, candidates and chaplain's assistants reconnect
with the chaplain corps.
“Any practice that broadens
the corps' understanding of spiritual disciplines
strengthens us in our individual callings and binds us more
readily together as a religious support team,” said Capt.
Brad Walgren, a chaplain assigned to the 158th Maneuver
Enhancement Brigade and the officer in charge of this event.
“One of the greatest outcomes of the exercise was the Unit
Ministry Teams now all know each other personally and have
worshipped together as one.”
The training not only
included learning about spiritual resiliency, but also
included various prayerful techniques, which entailed
activities such as lectio divina, centering prayer and the
healing drum circle, provided by a range of community
“The training here was designed to not
only add new spiritual practices to our tool kits, but also
broaden our community resources to provide for our soldiers
who are of various backgrounds and faiths,” Walgren said.
During the training, discussions and planning for
better ways to maintain soldier readiness were held as well,
which helped re-establish their soldier responsibilities.
“We want to escape from this stigma that the
chaplain or his assistant are just the guys who stand on the
sidelines waiting to provide spiritual help,” said Col. John
Morris, staff chaplain from the National Guard Bureau. “We
are soldiers, too, and our first duty as soldiers is to
maintain our own readiness and uphold the Warrior Ethos.”
It's become a growing trend that within the chaplain
corps it is acceptable practice to not ensure we are
mission-ready as well- and it's typically because we are so
busy helping others, Morris points out.
members are twice the soldier because they've got a home
game and away game – every drill is crucial training,
because they must be ready for local incidents, as well as
global deployments,” Morris said. “The days of a sleepy Army
Guard back when I joined in 1984 – those days are gone. Not
being mission-ready will get someone hurt, or worse.”
Across the state, the chaplains and assistance rarely
get to train together, as they are all individually-assigned
to units, so this was a unique chance for them to work
together on a common level of training.
get an opportunity like this where we can all come together
and train, so it's helpful to get everyone from all across
the state and motivate them to see that there is a chaplain
corps, and can bring camaraderie and fellowship to the
table,” said Col. Elmon Krupnik, the state chaplain for the
Arizona Army National Guard.
According to Walgren,
the chaplain corps provides and performs worship services,
rites, sacraments, ordinances, pastoral and spiritual care
and religious education to nurture the living, care for the
dying, and honor the dead.
The event helped the
spiritual leaders “re-energize,” as Krupnik put it, so they
can re-engage with their duties as chaplains and chaplain's
assistants, and to get to know all the community resources
Arizona has to offer to service members.
“My hope is
that they take the information and training received today
and apply it personally,” Krupnik said. “I believe that a
lot of personal decisions we make tend to affect the
professional ones we make, so really if we are making good
personal decisions, then it will reflect professionally as
By U.S. Army Sgt. Lauren Twigg
Comment on this article