DVIDS – News – 449th CAB Unit Ministry Team: The Vital Role They Play in #BreakingTheStigma While Providing Religious Support

MORRISVILLE, NC – In honor of upcoming Mental Health Awareness Month, the 449th Combat Aviation Brigade is drawing attention to two soldiers who help keep their fellow combatants mentally and spiritually resilient. North Carolina Army National Guard Chaplain (Maj.) James Watters, 449th CAB Chaplain, and Master Sgt. Jarvis Williams, the 449th CAB religious affairs specialist, both have critical roles regarding brigade readiness as part of the unit ministry team.

“We are experts in religion and ethics,” Williams said. “Our job is to ask what is the religious affairs component and how do we support soldiers and their family members? »

As leaders within the chaplain corps, Watters and Williams provide brigade-level support through counselling, advocacy, religious and moral support, resilience training and support, suicide prevention, morale and wellness tracking, and other religious and non-religious services. .

The UMT strives to maintain the 449th CAB as a religiously inclusive organization that promotes unity and equality regardless of religious preference.

“Religious freedom is a constitutional right, especially for those who protect those freedoms,” Watters said. “Chaplains help defend the freedoms and religious rights of soldiers.”

Religion is a key element of the Chaplain Corps; however, its purpose provides a much wider scope in order to reach all army soldiers.

“We also deal with soldiers who don’t have a religious preference because they too are individuals who have to deal with adversity,” Williams said.

Whether soldiers are struggling at home or in uniform, the UMT stands ready to provide services to assist in any way possible.

“One of our most important roles is to perform or provide advice to any soldier who needs it,” Watters said. “If for some reason we cannot meet the need, we refer to a resource that can.

The tasks of a soldier are complex and can sometimes be very difficult. Therefore, it is important that soldiers are equipped with the necessary tools and support to overcome any mental, emotional or physical challenges they may encounter along the way.

“It’s important to de-stigmatize mental health issues,” Watters said. “Everyone, including military personnel, has a breaking point. We have to solve these inevitable problems as a team.

Watters provides a vital argument that mental health is something men and women of all ages struggle with every day. Without support and awareness, the consequences can be tragic, affecting the entire brigade. The UMT helps reinforce the ideology that every soldier has the essential duty to help identify and prevent suicide in the ranks.

After years of collecting data and reporting from the chaplain corps, key Army-wide trends have been identified on various issues aimed at helping to prevent suicide and increase resilience. Accordingly, the Army Strong Bonds program was developed as a collaborative effort to proactively reach and support soldiers and their families. This program is run by Army chaplains and specifically helps service member relationships, builds coping mechanisms and resilience. The Army Strong Bonds program has enabled chaplains across the Army to assist their military colleagues more effectively.

“Decades later, we are seeing a tangible impact on trends in how this program has helped the entire Chaplain Corps,” Williams said.

Watters and Williams are leaders within the 449th Combat Aviation Brigade and NCARNG who are at the forefront of protecting religious freedom and supporting soldiers within the ranks.

“It’s a privilege and it fulfills me in a special way,” Watters said. “I really feel this is an important part of my ministry and call to care for soldiers and their families.”

Date taken: 05.02.2022
Date posted: 05.02.2022 11:57
Story ID: 419745
Location: MORRISVILLE, North Carolina, USA

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