Service members’ personal beliefs and practices strengthen their attachment to hope, meaning, and purpose. Such ideological and spiritual forces play an extremely important role in Total Force Fitness and the ability to survive in adverse situations.

“The existence of spiritual strength and belief, whatever that is for the individual, provides the gasoline for the engine to move people forward in battle,” Navy Capt said. Raymond Houk, chaplain for Navy Medicine.

“In other words, it’s this tenacity, this grit that keeps people busy and moving forward,” said Houk. “In terms of the Defense Health Agency, that’s what makes them care about their patients and be ready in case they are asked to go to war.”

Lt. Col. Linda Lesane, director of ministry and pastoral care at William Beaumont Army Medical Center in El Paso, Texas, explained that every element in a service member’s life is in some way influenced by faith or spirituality.

“Spirituality affects all areas of Total Force Fitness. It affects how people relate and interact with one another in social and family settings, ”said Lesane. “How you manage your financial resources and obligations can also be a spiritual matter. It all depends. “

Houk added that in his view a sense of service is something that rests with the military, is part of the medical community, and spirituality all have in common.

“I think the feeling of continuing to serve is an issue that encompasses both serving your country and serving your patients and serving a higher power, whatever that may be,” said Houk.

Feeling like you are working for a greater good and something greater than yourself is something people may need to be reminded of when they feel down.

“It’s our job, we get paid for it, and yet people won’t do it for long after they’re burned out,” said Houk. “People may have a tendency to be upset unless there is some other internal motivation, and I think belief, spirituality, the desire to make a difference and serve are beyond a contract and a paycheck. People joined an organization because they wanted to improve the lives of our warriors and their family members. “

In a potentially stressful work environment, the challenges of the COVID-19 pandemic have added complexity to the medical field.

“I think the stressors faced by our healthcare workers, frontline providers, our medical staff and their families are challenging both when they have to work from home and when they have to leave their loved ones to do so physically going to patients, performing surgery, or otherwise encountering them, especially if they might run the risk of exposure, ”said Houk.

The pandemic may have even led to more “spiritual resilience,” as Lesane put it, as individuals had more time to focus on how to practice their beliefs on a personal level rather than being part of a group.

Houk added that the supporting role of the chaplains doesn’t necessarily have to be as a religious confidante who shares the same beliefs. They are also present as a conversation partner and as an alternative to formal counseling or a visit to your chain of command. Chaplains can support and encourage ethical and moral decisions outside of traditional channels.

“Chaplains bring the presence of faith into the workplace so they can encourage those on medical teams, for example,” said Houk. “Chaplains can also advise commanders, not only on the general welfare of the crew, but also on the impact of religious, ethical, and moral issues on operations. Chaplains can provide professional and personal advice. Everyone needs someone to talk to, and chaplains can be that impartial, supportive person. “

Chaplains can provide encouragement in dealing with internal and external battles.

“Staying in battle could mean a battle against cancer or some other physical illness, the spiritual battle associated with it, be it grief or loss or operational in a battle zone,” said Houk.

Preparing for different situations and scenarios is no different from any other aspect of military service or operations, be it mental or physical.

“We train as if we were fighting in the military. In the teaching hospitals and military treatment facilities where we train these doctors, nurses and corpsmen to take care of patients and take care of one another, we carry the same skills, “he said,” and part of that skill is being mentally resilient . “

“Sometimes the presence of a chaplain in a combat situation can encourage war fighters to move on, take care of their friends, or go on another patrol,” said Houk. “Faith strengthens and values ​​people’s lives and enables them to move on in difficult situations.”

He added that the Chaplain Corps is always looking for help it can get.

“The Chaplain Corps is constantly recruiting and we would love to have qualified people apply,” he said.