Paperwork and PowerPoint briefings are not the first order of business when new 23rd Quartermaster Brigade advanced individual training Soldiers arrive at Fort Lee. Instead, the unit prefers to address their spiritual, resilience and moral needs.
The first stage of a three-day in-processing period is a Sunday afternoon with the 266th QM Battalion chaplain Capt. Keith Andrews, and the 23rd QM Brigade Equal Opportunity adviser Sgt. 1st Class Angel Padilla. The sessions are meant to start the AIT Soldiers off on a positive note by giving them the tools needed to face the training challenges ahead.
First, the chaplain provides a session that reviews resiliency techniques - how to handle problems, how to manage stress and how to identify high risk Soldiers - and a discussion of suicide intervention. The chaplain also provides a schedule of worship services and several motivational videos. Soldiers are then given the opportunity to speak to the chaplain one-on-one, if desired.
"I always appreciate the opportunity to meet with the Soldiers at this critical stage of their training," Andrews said. "The transition between basic training and AIT is a challenging one; taking a Soldier from a highly regimented state to a less regimented one. It is important that Soldiers are able to speak with a chaplain soon after arriving to Fort Lee. The conversations are a good thing that we provide."
The subsequent EO briefing includes a multimedia presentation that addresses the importance of equal opportunity and protection from sexual harassment and sexual assault. The video segments are supplemented by group discussion and the lively exchange of thoughts and opinions allows the Soldiers to hear a reinforcing message to encourage them to take a stand against harmful behavior on the basis of gender, race or religion.
The final portion of the Sunday session is the option to attend a Protestant worship service provided by the chaplain. It is a special service designed with the Soldier's busy in-processing schedule in mind.
Recent graduate Pvt. Steven Hawkins from Tango Company, 266th QM Bn., reflected on the service he attended. "I think it was a real great way to boost troop morale and give us the sense of motivation and caring we needed to succeed."
Every week, Fort Lee welcomes bus loads of incoming troops bound for quartermaster AIT courses, and the 23th QM Brigade leaders believe the Sunday afternoon chaplain and EO in-processing briefings are an integral part of the Soldier's development to become competent quartermaster warriors grounded in the Army Values and Warrior Ethos.