Greetings to all in the Chaplain Family.
It has been a long and cold winter here in Grand Rapids. We set new records for snow and for cold, but we have a lot of experience with these winters and life goes on mostly as normal. My heart goes out to all on the East Coast, especially Boston. WOW, what a year you have had. Blessings as you thaw.
Our Association continues to support the Army Chaplaincy, with our prayers for all chaplains, assistants and Directors of Religious Education. We speak of our memories of those who served in our ranks, but have passed on to the awards that await them. (At our Convention this year, the list of names of those we remembered was very long and the reading of the names brought sorrow, thanksgiving, and a sense of pride for their service for God and Country). We praise your continuing ministry in retirement. We empathize with you both the joy and opportunity retirement offers us.
We are not an association that wants to establish a bunch of programs, but two we continue to promote are the establishment of local, regional meetings of our members with other chaplains. Under the leadership of two of the members of the Board and the hard work of local chaplains this program is growing. The members of the Chaplain Family enjoy meeting together and inviting chaplains on active duty, in the rewards and chaplains from the other services. Thank you for all you have done and will continue to do to expand this program.
The second program is close to our current Chief of Chaplains and the members of the Board, with G.T. liaising with the Chief to help us mentor active Duty Chaplains, Reserve/National Guard Chaplains, assistants, and DRE’s. We want to come along side these chaplains and befriend them, sharing our story and experience with these who now carry on the mission – Courageous in Spirit, Compassionate in Service.
I have been talking to the soldiers serving in Iraq and Afghanistan. I am stunned by the deep grief they carry and the loss they experience: Loss of Closes friends – isolation; Loss of innocence or sense of goodness; Loss of unit discipline and the order of the Total Institution system; Loss of role/identity/purpose for others: Loss of family or capacity for intimacy – family conflict and divorce; Loss of faith and meaning in community; Loss of faith and trust in leadership – feeling of betrayal; Loss of reason/desire to live; Finally – one we chaplains do not experience, but our assistants do – Loss of a weapon – and security. We can and should empathize with this loss and grief.
We encourage you all to be recruiters for the association. If someone asks you, “What is in it for me?” One answer is the same intrinsic rewards you felt in your service as a member of the Chaplain Family.
In His and Your service,
Herman Keizer, Jr. Chaplain (COL) US Army (retired)