Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Wednesday, July 28, 2004

Pastoral Care in the Army

Today was a typical day, again.  PT the morning...hundreds of sit ups and push ups on the ground without a mat, in wet grass!  :)  But it's a great way to wake up, and I always feel more ready for the day when I have worked out, whether at home or here at Fort Jackson.

Our classroom instruction for today, (and Wednesday and Thursday) is on Pastoral Counseling.  I will receive over 30 hours of classroom instruction here at CHOBC, and we are required to do an additional 20 hours outside of CHOBC in order to become qualified as a Pastoral Care Specialist with the AAPC (American Association of Pastoral Care or something).  Basically, this means counseling.

This is one of those subjects they don't (can't?) teach you much about at seminary.  I've learned more from talking to Pastor Mark at LCC about pastoral care than I did at seminary.  This classroom instruction is helpful, though it affirms much of what I have learned from Mark (and others).

Pastoral care in the Army is very specific (yet applicable to the civilian world).  The Army life has incredible stressors:  time away from your family, low pay (well, for enlisted soldiers in particular), great physical and mental demands, a war with deployments overseas, and so on.  Along with these, the typical soldier doesn't have as much time to schedule "counseling" as a civilian...between deployments, training, FTX (field training exercises), etc.  So the method they teach here is called "Brief Solution Focused Pastoral Care."  It's about helping soldiers to get at the solutions to their current crisis by looking at potential changes in behavior and lifestyle rather than probing into the past and family of origin issues.  This does not mean that family of origin issues are not important; to the contrary, it affirms that type of counseling, but simply seeks to find solutions in the context of a very different counseling setting.

Anyway, it's interesting, and will benefit my ministry as a pastor too.


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