|Story & photo by Tom Michele, Eagle Systems &
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.
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
“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
“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
(See related story.)