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July 13, 2012

News

Chaplain, social-support personnel learn about VA medical system

Chaplain and social-support personnel working and training at Fort McCoy visited the Tomah Veterans Administration Medical Center (VAMC) to learn about its role in treating Soldiers and veterans.

Fort McCoy Garrison Chap. (Lt. Col.) Allen Raub said he arranged the tour and briefing with VAMC Chaplain Maynard Hofer as part of the Unit Ministry Training (UMT) program.
PHOTO: Chaplains and chaplain assistants attended a briefing about the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center. Contributed photo
Chaplains and chaplain assistants attended a briefing about the Tomah Veterans Affairs Medical Center during a visit to the facility during Warrior Exercise. During a field site visit, the personnel learned what the Veterans Affairs Medical Center can do for Soldiers and veterans. (Contributed photo)

The event supported Army Reserve chaplains and chaplain assistants here for the Warrior Exercise (WAREX) from June 9-29.

Other personnel who deal in these issues, including chaplain personnel from installation tenant activities, Army Community Service personnel and Military Family Life Consultants, also participated. More than 30 personnel attended the session.

WAREX 2012, an Army Reserve exercise coordinated by the 86th Training Division at Fort McCoy, helped prepare more than 4,000 Soldiers for future missions.

“I began to think about doing something like this when I was at Fort Bragg (North Carolina),” Raub said. “Soldiers who have been deployed get up to two years of treatment in the VA system. At (Garrison Commander) Colonel (Steven W.) Nott’s direction, I opened it up to Fort McCoy ACS mental-health professionals who also could benefit from the event.”

Chap. (Maj.) Ron Walters, the Training and Operations chaplain for the installation Religious Support Office, said the training helped attendees understand which VAMC services are available to Soldiers after their service.

The training included a mental-health presentation, a readjustment/reintegration briefing for veterans, and a tour of the facility.
“The event also gave the chaplains and chaplain assistants a chance to get together with counterparts and discuss WAREX, network with each other, and discuss other topics of interest,” Walters said. “During the exercise, they often were focused on what their units were doing and didn’t have a chance to interact with their counterparts.”

Raub said the training also gives the Army Reserve chaplain personnel information they can share with their local communities and improve the knowledge base about how to care for Soldiers and veterans when they return to their civilian careers.

Carole Ewald, the lead for Family and Chaplain Services for the Tomah VAMC, said the event was a great success, and the group participated energetically despite the hot weather and expressed their appreciation for the opportunity.

Raub said he would like to have a similar event next year as part of the UMT program. In the meantime, he will continue to offer UMT opportunities to chaplain personnel in tenant units, such as the 88th Regional Support Command and the 181st Infantry Brigade, both of which have chaplains and chaplain assistants to serve their organizations.

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