When a co-worker dies, a serious illness strikes or suicidal thoughts occur, they can provide listening ears, be sounding boards or people to pray with.
Combat Capabilities Development Command Aviation & Missile Center employees seeking spiritual care can do so within their own center thanks to the Chaplain Care Team. Designed to be a force multiplier for the CCDC chaplain section, the Aviation & Missile Center team is the first to go operational within the command. CCDC Command Chaplain (Lt. Col.) David Snyder and his aide paid a visit to the center Nov. 12 to conduct training for the civilian volunteers who make up the team.
“The Chaplain Care Team is there to provide a religious or spiritual option for those members of the workforce that would like to employ their faith. For many people, their spirituality or their faith is important. For those who would like to employ it, you will be able to help them do that,” Snyder told the team.
In an organization as large as the center, meeting the spiritual needs of employees as they come up can be challenging for the chaplain team that serves all of CCDC, according to Darrin Carter, the center’s liaison officer for the team. The Chaplain Care Team concept helps bridge the gap by allowing civilian employees to provide spiritual care as needs arise, such as visiting hospitalized personnel, attending funerals or delivering prayer for special events. Civilians must be approved by their supervisor and agree to abide by Army Regulation 165-1, Army Chaplain Corps Activities.
“Our job is to ensure the free exercise of religion for Soldiers, their families and DOD civilians – that is what we are called to do,” Snyder said. “We do that in a way that is to respect the belief system of others yet, at the same time, allowing for individuals to maintain integrity to the belief system that they come from. You will never be asked to compromise what you believe in; all we ask is that you respect someone who may have a different belief system.”
Twenty individuals make up the center team and encompass a range of denominations to include Buddhism, Catholic, Protestant and the Jewish faiths. To be eligible to serve on the team, volunteers must be of sound mind and character, an active-duty service member or government civilian, an excellent and well-rounded employee, and have a flexible work schedule.
While they are not considered counselors or therapists, the group will receive quarterly training from Snyder on topics such as applied suicide intervention skills, caring for those who grieve, active listening skills, when and how to make a referral, solution-focused counseling skills and guidelines on religious exercise and religious expression in the federal workplace. The quarterly training with Snyder ensures care team volunteers are prepared to respond to the variety of spiritual needs their co-workers may come to them with.
“It gives people someone to voice their opinions to or their questions to, someone they can pray with, someone who will listen and be a good ear,” said Carter, an ordained elder in his church. “It doesn’t have to be someone to pray with all the time, but just someone who is there. You have someone extra to reach out to.”