News: Chaplains, community partner to meet service members’ needs
Story by Staff Sgt. Mylinda Durousseau
SHAW AIR FORCE BASE, S.C. -- Third Army/ARCENT Commanding General Lt. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, and Third Army/ARCENT Senior Enlisted Leader Command Sgt. Maj. Stephan Frennier, spoke to religious leaders from Sumter and Columbia communities during the Third Army/ARCENT Command Chaplain Office’s monthly Soldier-Family Ministry Forum at Patton Hall on Shaw Air Force Base, S.C. Nov. 6.
The forum, a command-sponsored, Chaplain-led initiative, is designed to help meet spiritual and other needs of service members and their Families by partnering with religious and faith-based organizations in the local community.
“We appreciate not only you being here today, being with us as a part of this forum, but what happens every day outside here; the way you have made a home for our soldiers, our families and our civilians that are here and how you minister to them every day,” Brooks said.
The forum is non-sectarian and is open to all religious or faith-based groups. Each month speakers from a wide variety of organizations are invited to make presentations about their programs or services during the forum.
“We want to show the local community what we have to offer to soldiers and airmen and to hopefully have local clergy show us what they have to offer,” said Chap. (Lt. Col.) James Palmer, Third Army/ARCENT religious area analyst and Petersburg, Va., native.
“We want to strengthen that partnership with the local community.”
The program has grown beyond Third Army/ARCENT as the 20th Fighter Wing and Toumey Regional Medical Center have hosted forums in an effort to provide a complete community of support.
“It makes us more effective. It builds a greater sense of community among the clergy but it helps embed the military in the community as well.” said Air Force Chap. (Maj.) Matthew A. Boarts, 20th Fighter Wing deputy wing chaplain. “For us to provide adequate spiritual care we need to partner with the community.”
The first forum was held in September and attendance has grown as invitations have been extended to those beyond Sumter and into the Columbia area.
“The goal is to help the community churches connect with the needs of the soldiers who attend those churches or parishes,” said Sgt. 1st Class Maurice Oldham, Third Army/ARCENT religious analysis noncommissioned officer and St. Louis native.
Each month the forum focuses on a different subject pertaining to soldier and ramily life. Subjects have ranged from suicide prevention to woman’s ministry in today’s military. Palmer said the Command Chaplain’s Office selects subjects that help them better serve soldiers and airmen.
“We want to hear from you, what you have to offer,” Palmer said.
For more information about the forum please contact Maj. Antoinette Baucom, Third Army/ARCENT chief of media and community relations, at 803-885-8868 or by email at: firstname.lastname@example.org.