Near the END!

And it comes down to this….

Four days from now I graduate from US Army Chaplain School. The next day, I roll onto Ft. Benning, GA to begin setting up shop for my new job as a Squadron Chaplain for 3-1 Calvary, 3rd Brigade, 3rd Infantry Division. I must admit…I am both excited to be graduating, and nervous about starting my new job. Trying to remember all I was taught, and learning the “culture within the culture” that is Ft. Benning. Many prayers are lifted this week! (I thank you for yours!!!!!)

Last week in CH-BOLC we witnessed history from a participant’s view. We were able to be part of the Change of Command (or Commandant) Ceremony and watch the current Commandant ride off into the sunset (the band and chorus actually sang “Old Soldiers Never Die, They Just Fade Away”) as he is retiring after 29 years of Army service. The Chief of Chaplains, Major General Donald Rutherford from the Pentagon was present. Later, he came to speak to our class, field questions, and hand out a few challenge coins. (No, I wasn’t lucky enough, but my squad leader got one!).

Also last week we visited the University of South Carolina Medical School where we were able to actually wear rubber gloves and handle 14 real cadavers, in various states of dissection. These were bodies of mostly local senior adults who had donated their bodies to science. Most of them had died this year. The med students very respectfully learn from these bodies, save all the parts, and later invite the families as they have a memorial service for the remains that eventually will be cremated and given to the families. So you can imagine the aura of respect for those individuals being dissected. Many had died from cancer, heart disease, and other issues. We were able to cradle actual human hearts, livers, kidneys, lungs, gall stones, and so much more in our hands. I was amazed. It felt a little like the lab in NCIS. I was able to hold a removed pacemaker, see a stint still in place, see receptors in place where chemotherapy tubes were connected, see a tattoo on a skin patch, see nail polish still on toenails and fingernails. When I die, if I get the chance, want to give my body to science for such as this. To see the respect with which these future doctors handle these bodies is wonderful. The knowledge they gain from these is astounding. The gift these deceased people have offered is priceless.

This week we get to earn certification in 3 of the Army’s 12 approved Strong Bonds family enrichment curriculum. We will be able to lead retreats for Single Soldiers, Married Couples, and Families. The Army invests alot of money in marriage and family enrichment retreats. The Chaplains play a key role. Strong Bonds events build Soldier Readiness. Tomorrow night is our class Banquet. Many spouses will be attending. On Friday of course we graduate. This week I am continuing to pack my things to prepare to move on Saturday. I hate missing my daughter’s 14th birthday on Thursday, but I will very shortly see her after that.

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