Fort Bliss, TX (U.S. Army) — Sgt. Maj. of the Army Raymond F. Chandler paid a visit to 1st Armored Division chaplains and chaplain assistants Friday to answer questions and give guidance concerning the new changes and challenges the Army will be facing in the future.
With budget restrictions, troop withdrawals, and personnel down-sizing, Chandler stressed the importance of a strong chaplain team and how important it is for a chaplain and chaplain assistant to build relationships with the Soldiers of their unit as well as with their chain of command.
“We can’t do what we do as Soldiers without chaplains and chaplain assistants. Be that person that has the personal courage to continue to seek out and help people in need,” said Chandler.
“No matter what your faith is, there are times when you need to have an outlet to speak about things … and rebuild that spiritual fitness,” added Chandler.
Chandler opened the floor to answer questions including how a chaplain assistant can build a relationship with their unit chain-of-command, what qualities make a good chaplain assistant, females entering combat arms military occupational specialties and how to rebuild resiliency in Soldiers and families.
Chandler explained the best place for a chaplain assistant is outside of the office, meeting with Soldiers and making a personal connection with them.
“You have to get out and make relationships with people. It’s not all about being faith-based, it’s about being a person that someone can approach and being seen as someone (a Soldier) can identify with,” said Chandler.
Lt. Col. Karen Meeker, 1st AD Chaplain, said it was a great experience for the chaplains and chaplain assistants within the 1st AD to see a senior leader of the United States Army speak and answer questions in person.
Meeker said the most important lesson was “How (chaplain assistants) can take care of Soldiers and their families and how to make themselves known amongst families and Soldiers.”
Sgt. Francyne Kennedy, 4th Battalion, 27th Field Artillery Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division thought Chandler’s visit was positive.
Kennedy said she has also been inspired to read the regulations more often and to become a better leader.
“It was motivating knowing how much Sergeant Major of the Army (Chandler) knows about our job and he inspired me to do more and to be more as a chaplain assistant.”