News: ‘Black Jack’ unit ministry teams host conference, strengthen through unity
Story by Sgt. Quentin Johnson
PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – As providers – meeting soldiers needs spiritually and emotionally – chaplains and their assistants can become weary, needing an opportunity to gather together, rest and recharge, said U.S. Army chaplain Maj. Warren Haggray, brigade chaplain, 2nd “Black Jack” Brigade Combat team, 1st Cavalry division, Fort Hood, Texas.
Black Jack’s chaplaincy did just that by conducting a unit ministry team conference at Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, Dec. 11 and 12, 2013, for all chaplains and assistants in the brigade, said Haggray.
Events of the conference included: dinner with U.S. Army Col. Robert Whittle Jr., Black Jack commander, an evening welcome session among the UMTs, morning session discussions and topical studies, a session with chaplain Col. Matthew Goff, chaplain for International Security Assistance Force Joint Command, Afghanistan and III Corps, Fort Hood, chaplain, and team building activities, he said.
Haggray said the conference not only helped UMTs relax but learn about future changes and the effects those changes will have on the chaplaincy and being prepared to support the families.
“We discussed many programs the chaplaincy offers, any changes to programs, re-integration and transition when we return home, but most importantly, the challenges we will be facing,” added Haggray.
The challenges Haggray spoke of are support for soldiers who may find it difficult to adjust to relationships and their environment upon redeploying.
He said sessions helped prepare the UMTs for the adjustment period upon return as well as improving themselves from lessons learned.
Spc. Johnnie Undewood, a native of Darien, Ga. and a chaplain’s assistant with the 15th Brigade Support Battalion, Black Jack, agreed with Haggray, explaining how the conference provided an understanding for new issues arising in the chaplaincy, adjusting to new climates (social environments) when back home, new rules that may come into place in the chaplaincy and looking forward to the future.
Underwood said, he was thankful for the opportunity to relax and enjoy the company of other UMTs from the brigade.
“It was good to see everyone since [UMTs] are at various locations throughout Afghanistan. We have a pretty good group of soldiers and stay in close contact with each other…we are a family,” added Underwood.
As a “family” the UMTs partook in team building events such as pingpong, billiards and foosball.
“The games were fun, we enjoyed each other’s company and had some laughs,” said Haggray.
Haggray said a future conference has not been planned but upon return stateside, monthly corps and brigade level UMT meetings will continue.