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    Religion: a helping hand in a hard place

    PHIBRON-MEU Integration

    Photo By Cpl. Michael Lockett | Chaplains of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit (MEU) and the Kearsarge Amphibious...... read more read more

    USS KEARSARGE - Religion is something fashionable to question or even avoid in youth, something to cling to in times of need, and something that permeates every aspect of culture, in its own way. It’s a polarizing topic in any conversation. One of those things you may not want to bring up at dinner, as it takes people in any number of different ways, usually with amplified enthusiasm.

    The Marines of the 26th Marine Expeditionary Unit belong to one of the three Marine expeditionary units stationed on the East Coast. Purpose built to be a rapid crisis response force, MEUs are designed to operate in harm’s way – in any situation that presents itself. Uncertainty, even from day to day, is a fact of life for the Marines and sailors of the MEU and Amphibious Squadron 4.

    Faith or religion by any name is a source of solace for many.

    “Anytime we’re faced with life and death – what we do is inherently dangerous – we face the ultimate questions. Religion helps answer that,” said Lt. Cmdr. Troy Todd, 26th MEU Chaplain from North Carolina.

    For Marines and sailors in particular, faith can be an anchor to a ship in a rough sea, where winds can blow from any quarter. In an existence of deployments that are often fraught with uncertainty – from where we’ll be going to when we’ll be leaving – belief in a higher power can be a source of comfort for some. Whether through dialogue with one’s choice of deity or through the sense of community and togetherness garnered from praying together, faith can help give life a spiritual balance it might not otherwise achieve.

    “It helps reduce their stress as they realize they’re not alone; God is with them,” said Todd. “We gather for a sense of unity and support for one another.”

    Religion has always played a quiet and undemanding role in the military. While regulations keep it from being something any Marine or sailor is compelled to participate in, with the circumstances of military life being what they are, it’s an option any and all are free to take part in.

    “I think some people would be surprised about how much of a resource it can be,” said Lt. Scott Shively, Battalion Landing Team 3/2 chaplain from Miami, Fla. “The spiritual aspect, being satisfied with who we are, is tremendously important.”

    And with the ever present reality of injury and death in combat, with hardship, and with long separation from family and friends who may not understand one’s situation, religion can help provide answers to a lot of tough questions we ask ourselves in the privacy of our own heads.

    “People who may be facing life and death for the first time may wonder if there’s more to life,” said Todd.

    The chaplains of the various units and faiths may not have all the answers, but they do their best, and they’re always there with a willing ear if you simply need someone to talk to. Offering services for those of the Roman Catholic, Protestant, 7th Day Adventist faiths, and the Church of the Latter Day Saints, including sacraments for the aforementioned, the religious personnel aboard the ship have the services for the major faiths represented in the armed services. Many other faiths have non-ordained lay leaders to help guide worship services and to tend to those denominations aboard the ship. There are also nondenominational prayer services offered aboard the USS Kearsarge.

    “We make sure all faiths are provided for – are supported,” said Todd.

    Copies of the religious services schedule are posted about the ship, and any religious personnel can help provide answers to inquiries about services, or most anything else. The chaplains are available for anyone who has questions about one’s faith, and they’re always there if you simply need someone to talk to, to find some direction. Not all who wander are lost, but at some point in life, we could all use a road map.



    Date Taken: 01.29.2013
    Date Posted: 02.02.2013 09:42
    Story ID: 101407

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