New York State Joint Chaplain Sustainment Training

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt Tiffany Scofield
  • New York Air and Army National Guard

SYRACUSE, NY – New York Air and Army National Guard religious affairs leaders came together for the New York State’s Annual Joint Chaplain Sustainment Training at the National Veterans Resource Center in Syracuse Jan 8-11.

The theme of this year's event was Spiritual Leadership 360 degrees. Topics discussed during the training included caregiver self-care, prevention workforce, state-active duty, suicide prevention, programs, career broadening opportunities, and more.

The New York National Guard Chaplain Corps received training and updates on providing religious support during domestic operations, overseas operations, State Partnership Program opportunities, and tasks to maintain readiness for future operations.

“Our hope is to improve our chaplains and religious affairs specialist/airmen ability to lead from a spiritual position 360 degrees,” said U.S. Army Lt. Col. James Miller, the deputy chief of chaplains for the National Guard Bureau. “As chaplains and religious affairs, we are in a unique position, we lead through the use of soft skills. We also supervise through our technical chain, and are responsible for our overall chaplain corps.”

Military chaplains are responsible for tending to the spiritual and moral well-being of service members and their families. Their responsibilities include performing religious rites, conducting worship services and providing confidential counseling. They are also advocates for our airmen and consult with leadership on moral, ethical and quality-of-life issues.

A military chaplain team consists of a commissioned officer chaplain and an enlisted religious affairs specialist. The team’s obligations to service members and their families include conducting ceremonies and services, developing education programs, accompanying service members into combat, providing combat stress support, advising commanders on religious and moral matters, counseling service members and their families, and more.

“We are religious experts,” said U.S. Army Maj. Robert Volk, the 42nd Expeditionary Aviation Combat Brigade chaplain. “We are the ones that are educated to be able to provide these services. We are chaplains, people, soldiers, airmen, that can be trusted to bring this spiritual resistance to our formations.”

One section of the training was about sharing experiences from those who have deployed or have been on a State Active Duty Mission within the past year. During the discussion members gathered on stage and told stories and shared the ways they were able to help the servicemembers in their unit.

“The biggest benefit of these events, beyond the knowledge we gain, is just getting together with the team responsible for caring for the Soldiers and Airmen of our state,” said U.S. Air National Guard Chaplain Lt. Col. Matthew Hallenbeck, 174th Attack Wing. “We get to encourage each other and share some best practices so we can provide the best care to all of our people.”

In addition to the organized training sessions, the occasion provided chaplains with chances to forge new relationships and fortify those that are critical to their jobs.

“This training will help me in a way where I will be able to better listen to individuals about what they are going through in their life and know how to respond,” said U.S. Air National Guard Staff Sgt. Nathaniel Cardiel, a religious affairs specialist assigned to the 174th Attack Wing. “Learning how to talk about topics like suicide, deployment settings and scenarios, and learning how to build relationships create rapport.”

New York Air and Army National Guard chaplains and enlisted religious affairs specialists pose for a photo during the state's annual joint religious sustainment training in Syracuse, NY, Jan. 08. During the training the servicemembers discussed their experiences and shared best practices for conducting religious affairs programs throughout the New York Air and Army National Guards. (U.S. Air Force photo by Alexander Rector)