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Chaplains look to help soldiers cope
Faithful assemble at joint Fort Stewart/HAAF gathering
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Chaplains assistant Sgt. Debra Stokes bows her head for an invocation Monday during the Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield National Prayer Breakfast. - photo by Denise Etheridge

A message of hope to help sustain the soldier’s soul was offered along with the day’s first meal Monday morning during the 2011 Fort Stewart and Hunter Army Airfield National Prayer Breakfast.
“For me, personally, prayer promotes inward healing,” 3rd Infantry Division deputy chaplain Maj. Bart Herndon said. “For some, it is a direct connection to God. For others, prayer helps them gain a renewed sense of self-awareness and hope.”
Maj. Gen. Douglas Carver, the U.S. Army Chief of Chaplains, was the guest speaker. Carver came to Fort Stewart to speak with post chaplains and chaplain assistants about core issues facing the chaplaincy as they help other soldiers cope with life’s challenges.
Carver told those assembled, “We’ve never had a greater need for hope than we do in this world today.”
Army chaplains are responsible for the spiritual well-being of soldiers and their families, according to The Army Chaplaincy also is religiously diverse, reflecting the diverse faith traditions of soldiers, the website states. Chaplains are non-combatants and do not carry or use weapons. 
“As a chaplain, our accomplishments are written on the hearts of the soldiers we serve,” said Fort Stewart/Hunter Army Airfield senior chaplain Col. Warren Kirby.  Kirby introduced Carver and spoke about how the Army’s 22nd Chief of Chaplains helped him through a personal crisis four years before, when his wife, Peggy, was seriously ill. He was deployed to Iraq and immediately flew back to the United States not knowing if she would survive, Kirby recalled.
He said Carver sent him a letter dated March 14, 2004, just before he boarded the plane. Carver wrote he would pray for Peggy Kirby’s recovery.
“After reading the letter, I knew I was going to be OK, my wife was going to be okay,” Kirby said. The senior chaplain said the letter’s simple message “let light punch holes in the darkness.”
Carver played the piano and sang to relieve his “jitters,” asked the group to pray for the people of Japan, and then spoke about hope, basing his sermon on Psalm 144.
“I believe it’s a soldier’s psalm,” he said.
Following the biblical King David’s example, Carver advised, “Let God be the strength of your life.”
He spoke of one soldier whose faith helped him endure a long recovery after losing his legs in battle, and of a fallen soldier’s father who told his son’s battle buddies to view his son’s sacrifice as a gift and not a debt to be repaid. The man’s son had taken the full force of a grenade blast to save the lives of four fellow soldiers.
“Sustainment is so very important,” Carver said. “God will sustain you through everything.”

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