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    RST supports spiritual health through competition, praise

    RST supports spiritual health through competition, praise

    Photo By Sgt. 1st Class Kelly Simon | CJTF-10 and Regional Command-East Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tony Petros leads discussion on...... read more read more

    AFGHANISTAN

    08.20.2014

    Story by Staff Sgt. Kelly Simon 

    Combined Joint Task Force 10

    BAGRAM AIR FIELD, Afghanistan – Spiritual health is one of the five pillars of Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness in the Army. The Army Chaplain Corps is charged with maintaining that pillar to the highest caliber.

    Religious Support Teams throughout Afghanistan met Aug. 19 & 20, 2014, at Bagram Air Field for a conference focused on spiritual health, counseling, and how each RST will carry on as the mission shifts from Operation Enduring Freedom to Resolute Support.

    The conference schedule was hectic but offered a chance for the teams to bond as individual units and a greater whole. Aside from the usual lectures, presentations and counseling sessions, Combined Joint Task Force-10 and Regional Command-East Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Tony Petros sprinkled in some friendly competition.

    “If the RST is able to maintain a healthy competitive spirit throughout the deployment, they will have a positive impact upon the overall spirit of the unit,” Petros said.

    Going beyond the normal push-ups, sit-ups, two-mile, run routine, Petros and his RST challenged the participants to an agility run, pull-ups, metronome push-ups, bench press, medicine ball throw, standing long jump, dips, and the multi-stage fitness test, more affectionately known as the “beep test.”

    The RSTs participated as individuals, and at their prayer breakfast, the victors were crowned. The breakfast was a bit of a special treat for the RSTs, not because of any fancy cooking, Petros pointed out, but because there aren’t too many occasions, almost never, where a prayer breakfast is provided just for them.

    The casual observer may not realize, but the Chaplain Corps is just as competitive as any other, and not just where physical attributes are concerned. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Dennis Hysom, 1st Cavalry Division and Regional Command-South noted this tendency as one focus of the conference. “We get very compartmentalized in the Army -- my division versus your division,” Hysom added. “What Tony (Petros) did was to try to build a team.”

    Hysom added that the conference allowed the chaplains to voice their concerns in a forum that encouraged discussion and problem resolution.

    As Petros’ counterpart in RC-South, Hysom is looking forward to taking his model back to Kandahar and implementing it with his own RSTs.

    “We can cross-level and support each other,” Hysom said. “The best thing (Petros) did for this conference was breaking down the walls.”

    Aside from the mission of the Chaplain, their assistants have a much bigger role to play than guardian angel.

    “This is my third conference and this is the one that has been more focused toward the mission as opposed to just training,” said Spc. Robert Guest, a Chaplain Assistant with Task Force Wings, 159th Combat Aviation Brigade, 101st Airborne Division (Air Assault).

    Guest spoke about the many challenges facing the Chaplaincy in the upcoming transition to Resolute Support.

    “We had a lot of information about how to properly handle retrograde, considering that the mission set has changed from our introduction until now in OEF fifteen,” said Guest.

    The RSTs spoke about handling and ultimate disposition of religious materials and host nation sensitivities in that endeavor. Guest and his counterparts discussed the process of moving materials from one base to another, and how they are categorized and reallocated or respectfully destroyed.

    “We really were coming to prepare ourselves for future ministry,” said Chaplain (Capt.) Christopher Kitchens, of Task Force Muleskinner, 10th Sustainment Brigade, 10th Mountain Division (Light Infantry) who is currently in RC-North

    As his task force winds down their mission in Afghanistan, Kitchens said he and his team are prepared for anything that comes their way.

    “A lot of times you just see Soldiers getting restless and ready to get home.” Kitchens added that the anxiety about returning home can cause some Soldiers to become careless, but by gently placing their focus on the mission to be completed, they can maintain motivation and functionality.

    Guest and Task Force Wings are also preparing to head home and besides talking to his fiancée about buying a motorcycle, he is focused on the spiritual health and resiliency of his unit.

    “A lot of Soldiers are worn out now,” Guest said. “They’ve been able to handle it fine for the past seven or eight months, but now that they’ve been working 16 hour days, there’s a part of them that’s really exhausted.”

    He strives to be there for his fellow Soldiers and help them use the resiliency tools they have gained before and throughout the deployment. He said the tools he gained during the conference will help him do just that.

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 08.20.2014
    Date Posted: 08.25.2014 13:04
    Story ID: 140287
    Location: AF

    Web Views: 52
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