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Chief of Chaplains promotes Spiritual Readiness Initiative at JBLM

Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem, U.S. Army chief of chaplains, promotes the Army’s spiritual readiness initiative (SRI) at Joint Base Lewis-McChord, Sept. 7, 2022. Photo credit: Richard Carlisi

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JOINT BASE LEWIS-MCCHORD - Maj. Gen. Thomas L. Solhjem, U.S. Army chief of chaplains, and Sgt. Maj. Elian Strachan, U.S. Army Chaplain Corps regimental sergeant major, visited with America's First Corps to promote the Army's spiritual readiness initiative (SRI).

The SRI consists of an assessment that helps commanders and unit ministry teams identify where to focus in order to take care of adversity soldiers are facing.

"The strong warrior is one who is strong in spirit," said Solhjem. "Spiritual readiness prepares soldiers for when the going gets rough."

Solhjem and Strachan spent several days at JBLM visiting with chaplains, religious affairs specialists, Army leaders and spouses as part of a larger tour to multiple military installations.

"There needs to be a focus on the Army's Holistic Health and Fitness (H2F) pillars, including spiritual readiness," said Strachan. "It's important to remember that spiritual readiness is part of H2F just as much as physical readiness."

Solhjem emphasized the importance of finding oneself spiritually, having faced much adversity in his career.

"Spiritual readiness gives soldiers the ability to weather-out difficult circumstances," said Solhjem. "The Army is beginning to see the importance of spiritual readiness, and the science shows it is foundational."

Dr. Lisa Miller, a professor in the clinical psychology program at Teachers College, Columbia University, presented as part of the initiative. She has conducted longitudinal research that shows people are born 30% spiritually innate and 70% of human spirituality is socialized.

"We are innately spiritual beings," said Dr. Miller. "When we strengthen the spiritual core, we are protected against the diseases of despair."

Lt. Gen. Xavier Brunson, commander of America's First Corps, shared his thoughts about spiritual readiness as it relates to hope and leadership.

"The key building block of leadership is one's ability to engender hope," said Brunson. "With hope, there's nothing you can't do."

Maj. Gen. Solhjem and Sgt. Maj. Strachan wants soldiers to take spiritual readiness with the same level of importance as all other aspects of readiness, and to realize that being spiritually ready is equally as important as being physically ready.

"This is larger than America's First Corps," said Strachan. "It's about the Army and strengthening the soldier as a whole."

Since 1775, Army?chaplains?have acted as spiritual counselors who support, motivate, and provide emotional guidance to soldiers and their families. Religious affairs specialists have the responsibility of supporting the unit ministry team while also conducting specialized peer counseling for soldiers in need of emotional support.

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