News: Chaplains strengthen roles, responsibilities at conference
Story by Sgt. Duncan Brennan
BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – The 101st Combat Aviation Brigade, Task Force Destiny, unit ministry teams came together for their bimonthly religious support team conference at the TF Destiny headquarters at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Jan. 3.
The unit ministry teams reconfirmed their roles and responsibilities according to the Army regulations that govern chaplains and shared some of their experiences of ministering to the soldiers in their units.
A unit ministry team consists of a chaplain and an enlisted assistant, who engages Soldiers and staff sections within their units.
“The chaplain’s assistant coordinates with the different shops within a unit,” said Spc. Sindy Tima, 2nd Battalion, 159th Aviation Regiment, Task Force Gunslinger, chaplain’s assistant. “We also visit our fellow soldiers. We are the eyes and ears of the chaplain.”
Deployed chaplains sometimes see more people seeking support because of the increased stress levels. Assistants play crucial roles in making sure that soldiers get the appropriate support they need to stay mission ready.
“I learned what I need to pass on to my chaplain,” said Spc. Ariel Garcia, 5th Battalion, 101st CAB, TF Eagle Assault chaplain’s assistant. “A lot of soldiers are not comfortable talking to an officer, so they talk to me. I need to know how to handle that because I’m not a professional counselor.”
The chaplains’ conference wasn’t all work. The conference also incorporated time for camaraderie.
“I enjoyed being able to see all the other unit ministry teams,” said Chap. (Capt.) Nathan White, 5-101st CAB chaplain. “There was great fellowship and it was also a great opportunity to look at the regulations that spell out our roles and responsibilities.”