[ The Real McCoy Online Home ]                                                                                                                     January 14, 2011
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Woolridge discusses spiritual resiliency with Fort McCoy senior leadership

Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems & Services

Resiliency skills, particularly the importance of the spiritual ones, along with Army programs available to help Soldiers, were explained by Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Ray Woolridge to Fort McCoy’s senior leadership in December at McCoy’s Community Club.

PHOTO: Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Ray Woolridge addresses a group of Fort McCoy senior personnel at McCoy’s Community Club. Photo by Tom Michele
Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Ray Woolridge addresses a group of Fort McCoy senior personnel at McCoy’s Community Club. He talked about resiliency skills and Army programs available to help Soldiers.

Woolridge, the assistant chief of chaplains for mobilization and readiness, with his office in the Pentagon, described the Army’s efforts to assist Soldiers who have returned from deployment to civilian life.

“I am most concerned about the invisible wounds you cannot see,” Woolridge said. He said he was referring to Soldiers “with post-traumatic stress disorder and Soldiers with any mental-health situation.”

“You have fired a weapon in anger, and you have taken someone’s life,” Woolridge said. “It does something to a person. Counselors call it a spiritual wound, and I am concerned about it as a chaplain.”

Woolridge talked about several different types of “wounds.” He showed a Powerpoint slide about 350 Minnesota National Guard Soldiers who had returned from a tour of duty in Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2007; 6 percent of them were unemployed, and, a year later, 18 percent of them were jobless. The chart showed 25 Soldiers had received citations for driving under the influence of intoxicants citations since separation from service, and 15 had gotten divorces.

“Why is it that one person is permanently disabled and another wounded Soldier feels they are better off and that life has improved?” Woolridge asked. Woolridge showed a Navy study that charted Sailor recruits who had resiliency training as part of their basic training. Those Sailors had a better chance of completing recruit training. “The Army wants to do this, too,” Woolridge said.

The senior chaplain referred to a list of spiritual resiliency skills and qualities.

“The Army describes spiritual strengthening as a set of beliefs, principles or values that sustain a person,” Woolridge said. “This applies to everybody. But the Army’s Chaplain Corps defines it as an art of providing spiritual care for the Army Family in their search for purpose, identity and meaning as they discover and live their sacred story, connect to sacred communities and engage in sacred formation.”

“The Chaplain Corps helps Soldiers to embrace the journey,” Woolridge said. “This is a life-long task, steeping ourselves into a spiritual community and its text, learning its wisdom, absorbing its image and metaphors, discerning its contours, wrestling with its puzzle with all our hearts and minds.”

Woolridge urged his audience to “go to a Strong Bonds event, with your spouse. It will have a huge impact on you.” Strong Bonds is a unit-based, chaplain-led program that assists commanders in building individual resiliency by strengthening the Army Family.

The core mission of the Strong Bonds program is to increase individual Soldier and Family member readiness through relationship education and skills training. Strong Bonds is conducted in an offsite retreat format to maximize the training effect.
 
The retreat, or “get away,” provides a fun, safe and secure environment in which to address the impact of relocations, deployments and military lifestyle stressors. (See related story.)

Woolridge’s presentation was videotaped and is being shown on Fort McCoy TV-6. The schedule is available on the Fort McCoy cooperate network.

Chaplain (Col.) Ken Lawson, Fort McCoy garrison chaplain, invited Woolridge to speak at Fort McCoy and share his insights on the spiritual aspect of resiliency for service members.

For more information about resiliency from a spiritual perspective in the Fort McCoy community, people may call the Religious Support Office at 608-388-3528.

(See related story.)

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