Sunday, May 06, 2007

Providing faith on the frontline

By Pfc. William Hatton
7th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

YUSUFIYAH – Where does man turn to when faced with life-threatening events? Is there a place of solitude in the hardships of combat? After experiencing traumatic moments, where can Soldiers turn to for peace?
When faced with the greatest trials a human can face, Soldiers from the 4th Battalion, 31st Infantry Regiment, 2nd Brigade Combat Team, 10th Mountain Division, are not only seeking out comfort from their chaplain, their chaplain is seeking out them to provide comfort from the frontlines of battle.
For Capt. Jeff Bryan, battalion chaplain for 4th Bn., 31st Inf. Reg., his duty station at Forward Operating Base Yusufiyah has become less of a home and more of a transitional dwelling as he moves throughout the nearby areas surrounding the FOB. Visiting his troops spread throughout the area and seeing the frontline they fight at every day becomes vital in allowing the faith to go forward.
Each day the work is different, said Bryan, a native of Watertown, N.Y. When he focuses his work around the FOB, Soldiers in the battalion visit him in hopes to seek guidance and gain motivation, he added.
“I spend most of my time going outside and visiting my Soldiers,” Bryan said. “When guys are spread out at numerous locations, it becomes important to visit with them to gain a sense of morale within the unit.”
Going to the places Soldiers go to and riding along on the daily patrols provides an opportunity to build stronger relationships with the Soldiers, Bryan said. When Soldiers see the willingness their chaplain has to visit them in rough and hard environments, it helps to build a deeper trust, he added.
“People have different responses to different situations,” Bryan said. “When a Soldier is traumatized after a firefight, to be able to encourage him becomes important.”
Soldiers go through enough pain and stress each day when they walk around on dangerous streets, Bryan said. With the amount of trouble they face, offering comfort and motivation becomes significant, he added.
“I’m no hero. These guys are the true heroes,” Bryan said. “The guys that sacrifice everything and fight this fight, they are the real heroes.”
As the stress of war continues, finding a sense of faith or a sense of comfort becomes difficult, Bryan said. The fear and stress dealt with causes a change in faith, he added.
“Most Soldiers don’t turn to God when dealing with their troubles,” Bryan said.
When a Soldier does however turn to a higher power for comfort, it brings a better feeling of triumph, Bryan said.
“It leaves me with a better feeling inside,” he added.
As the fight continues, life’s troubling questions might not be answered. Attacks will continue, but as Soldiers from FOB Yusufiyah build a stronger relationship with their chaplain, the fight will go forward with a stronger force.

No comments: