Military chaplains bonded by faith
The Anglican Bishop to the Australian Defence Force, Bishop Ian Lambert, has visited his American counterparts at Camp Arifjan in Kuwait.
Bishop Lambert was in Kuwait to support and check on the spiritual welfare of Australian Defence Force members deployed in the Middle East. He took the opportunity to meet with two US Army Anglican chaplains, Lieutenant Colonel Dan Knaup and Captain Ian Burgess, discussing the challenges and rewards of being a military chaplain, how the chaplain corps is structured in their country and methods of soldier care.
Bishop Lambert, who had 20 years of active service in the defence force before going into ministry, was accompanied by two other Australian chaplains – Captain Murray Lund (Navy) and Lieutenant Colonel Sarah Gibson (Army).
The chaplains agreed that caring for a service member’s spiritual wellbeing is an important key to preventing suicide, which is a significant issue among veterans. “The principle that we are spiritual beings must be brought regularly to our commanders,” Bishop Lambert said.
Lieutenant Colonel Knaup said spiritual strength was one of the five pillars of the Army’s current resiliency training. He then passed out Army “ACE” cards – a tool for suicide prevention encouraging soldiers to Ask, Care and Escort battle buddies with suicidal thoughts – to the Australian contingent.
Said Captain Burgess: “I was glad to see Chaplain Lambert’s concern for service members. It’s great to see that in Australia that they’re using some of the same programs – like the ASIST [Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training] program – and that’s bearing results there.” Bonded by faith, the chaplains closed their time by praying for peace, and for protection and courage for service members of the coalition and partner nations.
Meantime in Sydney, chaplains are preparing for an information day to challenge others to join them in ministry.
Bishop Lambert has called for Anglican clergy, spouses, those considering or training for vocational ministry, churchwardens or those training/mentoring others in ministry to attend the day on Thursday 4 August at Randwick Barracks.
Photo: Bishop Lambert (centre) gathers for prayer with US and Australian chaplains. Credit: Staff Sgt. Victor Joecks, US Army