Duty day with God
By Sgt. Timothy Jordan, 2nd BCT, 1st AD Public Affairs:
On Jan. 23rd at the Survivor Outreach Services facility on West Fort Bliss, Soldiers and families assigned to 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 1st Armored Division, came together for training and counseling to deal with mortality and adversity.
Six supporting chaplains led Soldiers and family members to write a phrase or word that best describes them on a label that was later worn as their nametags. To break the ice in the seminar, everyone introduced themselves elaborating on what was written on their labels while greeting each other.
Chaplain (Maj.) Douglas Downs, 2nd BCT, 1st AD, began the seminar by directing those in attendance to the memorial on the wall to the group’s left. He then raised the attention of those participating by sharing everyone’s common thread with those depicted on the wall.
“We all die,” said Downs, as he explained that they would be challenged during the day’s activities.
Chaplain (Capt.) Glen Wurdeman, 1st Battalion, 6th Infantry Regiment, 2nd BCT, 1st AD, gave a short description of what the next exercise consisted of, while attendants formed groups of four to five people to begin their assignments. Each person wrote their obituary from the point of view of their future children and grandchildren. The task was to describe what they would like their future decedents to say about them.
Many of the obituary assignments included children who were thankful for the impact that they left after their passing. Some were remembered for their humor or love of sports. After several readings, Wurdeman discussed world values such as wealth, success or fame. He then spoke of the attendees life choices, to help them understand where they are on their life path and what may result from their choices.
Many tasks engaged the participants by illustrating the most common ways people deal with difficult changes in life. The goal was to help participants grasp the importance of accepting these hardships as well as learn ways to step forward from hard times.
“Are you making intentional choices to live the life you want?” Wurdeman asked, pointing out, where they saw themselves in the obituaries may not be their current destination.
During each exercise, each chaplain took a brief moment to explain different aspects of the discussion – from basic functions of the brain to various cultural and religious beliefs. The many different sources of information rang a shared truth.
“Even though we all come from different parts of society with different cultures and beliefs; we are all mortal, and must cope with life’s difficulties,” said Spc. Samantha Small, a human resource specialist with 2nd BCT, 1st AD.
“This gives better tools to cope with stress and become more resilient,” Small stated when asked her opinion of the program. She also said she highly recommends this for anyone interested in living a better life.
“We all face obstacles in our lives and we must find healthy ways to deal with them in order to pursue the life we truly want,” said Downs.
The exercises can be arduous for those participating in the seminar. For those looking for ways to strengthen their lives through thinking that is more resilient, the “Wise Choices Wise Living” training may be for you, said Downs.
Downs explained that a major component of life resiliency is our spiritual health. “We are supporting the Army’s goals of a resilient Soldier, family and unit by providing training opportunities to Soldiers and families to develop spiritual health,” he said.
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