Chaplains train in combat ministry

Spc. Todd Goodman
Landstuhl Regional Medical Center

The first chaplains to train in combat ministry at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center graduated Dec. 10 and received a new perspective on how to minister downrange.

A group of 10 chaplains and chaplain assistants from different bases in Germany and Italy completed the two-week course, giving them the opportunity to work in a hospital setting and attend to wounded personnel.

“This (course) helps prepare me to go downrange, so what I see won’t be a complete shock,” said Spc. Eddie Mejia, 173rd Support Battalion chaplain’s assistant in Vincenza, Italy.

As part of the program, the group took two classes – the Emergency Medical Minister Course and the Combat Medical Ministry Course. The EMMC focused primarily on fixed station hospitals, while the CMMC focused on combat units and pastoring.
Classes were divided into modules taught by a training manager of the Department of Pastoral Ministry Training Army Medical Department Center and School, Fort Sam Houston, Texas.

Modules included trauma ministry, whereby a chaplain would minister to freshly wounded servicemembers, medical ethics, spiritual hope, critical incident stress management, crisis ministry, and grief and loss.

“Trauma ministry allows us to see trauma situations, assist and encourage the person before and after surgery,” said Capt. Artie Maxwell, a chaplain who attended the course from 1st Battalion based in Baumholder, Germany. “We have book knowledge on situations, but this training helps with operation tempo and how to effectively help Soldiers deal with trauma.”

A chaplain’s role downrange is to provide much-needed care to those desperate and without hope.

“How do we bring hope into a situation where hope is hard to see?” said Colonel Bearden. “That is what we are trying to teach these chaplains and assistants to think about.”

The second class, crisis ministry, handled situations where a life-altering decision must be made, such as amputations, where a chaplain’s comfort and reassurance can help keep that person from spiraling into depression.

“The most important aspect of this class is that it gives our servicemembers better care,” said Colonel Bearden. “I think that our downrange (servicemembers) deserve the most well-trained chaplains that we can provide to them.”