FORT HUACHUCA, Ariz. – At this Army installation, nurturing the soul of the soldier is just as essential as making sure the soldier is ready for his mission.
This is done on Fort Huachuca through the performance and availability of a myriad of religious services for various religious groups and anyone who wants to worship.
If a religious service is not being performed on the installation, chaplains will connect soldiers, their families and civilians with a source that will provide them with the spiritual program they seek.
“In the Chaplain Corps, the slogan is ‘perform or deliver,'” said Fort Huachuca Garrison Chaplain Lt. Col. Shay Worthy. “The services we can render, we render them. We do what we can. But we provide everything. Which means (if we can’t do something) we connect the soldiers to the right source.
“Anyone who comes to me as a garrison chaplain and says that’s my faith, here’s what I need, I can say, ‘I can’t do this for you, but I can do this for you. you.’ “
It seems that some kind of religious or spiritual bond is created all the time in Fort Huachuca.
Whether Catholic, Jewish, Muslim, or pagan Norse, there is a church service available at the facility, or at least a place to worship privately or meditate.
Worthy last week hosted the annual visit to Fort Huachuca by Bishop Neal J. Buckon of the Archdiocese for the military, and the two men spoke about the importance of religion and spirituality in life. of a soldier.
“When a young man or young woman puts on the uniform and raises their hand and comes to serve our country, we don’t think they should have to give up their constitutional rights,” Buckon said. “So we have a body of chaplains that guarantees the free exercise of religion.”
Indeed, the first section of Department of Defense Instruction 1300.17, titled “Religious Freedom in the Military Service,” states: “Establishes DoD policy under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment to the Constitution. of the United States, recognizing that Servicemen have the right to observe the tenets of their religion, or to observe no religion at all.
It seems the military has been dealing with the issue of religion and spirituality for centuries. Buckon mentioned that George Washington was asking for chaplains for his troops. And in a 1941 speech at Trinity College, George C. Marshall, Army Chief of Staff under Presidents Franklin D. Roosevelt and Harry S. Truman and Secretary of State and Secretary of Defense under Truman, said :
“Soldier’s heart, soldier’s mind, soldier’s soul, that’s all. Unless the soul of the soldier supports him, he cannot be relied upon and he will fail himself, his commander and his country in the end.
Fort Huachuca makes sure soldiers who want to feed their souls get it. There are church services stationed for Catholics, Protestants, Jews, Muslims, The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and northern pagans, Worthy said. There is also a meditation room in the chapel accessible to all religious and spiritual beliefs.
Post chapels are for everyone.
“Army chapels are neutral spaces,” Worthy said. “We provide religious support to all religions.”
He explained that the main post chapel has the Stations of the Cross. The latter, primarily a Christian belief, takes an individual through the different phases of the Passion of Christ, which is the arrest, trial, suffering and crucifixion of Christ. The stations are displayed inside wooden boxes that surround the walls of the chapel. However, the boxes can be closed so that the chapel becomes a neutral space for other religious services. There are two other chapels on the post, the Kino Chapel and the Prosser Village Chapel.
Additionally, in addition to Jewish religious services at the installation, the military also offers Jewish religious instruction at Fort Huachuca to anyone interested. Rabbi Benzion Shemtov, who works under contract with Fort Huachuca for religious services, began teaching the classes in October, said Morgana Biddix, who works at Fort Huachuca’s religious support office. Biddix showed two textbooks used in the courses, one titled “Voyage of the Soul,” about the Jewish afterlife, and the other “Secrets of the Bible.”
“It’s quite interesting that little Fort Huachuca here in Sierra Vista provides Jewish religious education to the entire military through this program,” Worthy said.
While most church services are performed by people the facility has a contract with, Worthy said there is an “active duty chaplain” on duty who is also a Catholic priest.
“He is also a unit chaplain, he has all the responsibility to take care of his unit and the congregation,” Worthy said. “But we also have a contract with a Catholic priest who comes to help with the services because the garrison thought it was too much for one person to handle.”
Buckon mentioned that because 22 is the average age in the military, Worthy and other chaplains at Fort Huachuca have “young adult ministry” to perform.
Laughing, Worthy said social media is key to reaching her audience.
“We’re a huge training base, we have a lot of full-term soldiers who are under 22,” Worthy said. “Like all young adults, they are in a way looking for more. The search for meaning is something we all follow.
Chaplain Col. Paul Jaedicke, senior command chaplain and NETCOM command chaplain at Fort Huachuca, agreed with Worthy that chaplains need to connect with their soldiers by going to them.
“It’s a unique base because it’s a training base,” Jaedicke said. “At the end of the day, I agree with what Shay said. Our most effective way to engage soldiers is to go to where they are. They’re not necessarily going to come to chapels. … When you interact with soldiers, that’s where you start to build relationships and that’s where they feel more comfortable talking to you.
“I would add that we are chaplains for all, but we are pastors for some. We are here for all soldiers, their families and civilians. But because of our religious faith, we only minister to those who give us permission to provide direct spiritual care.