Sunday, February 28, 2010

Military Picture of the Week

From a friend's brother's pictures of his trip to Paris, taken in 2009 at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. Some fitness standards needed in the French military, perhaps?

Thursday, February 25, 2010

US Military Affirms Focus on Mental Health

Military Leads Mental Health Care Transformation
By Lisa Daniel
American Forces Press Service

WASHINGTON, Feb. 24, 2010 – The United States is in the middle of a “cultural transformation” in mental health treatment led by the Defense Department and the military services, the department’s top mental health expert told a congressional panel today.

Mental health resilience “is fundamentally underlying everything we do,” Army Brig. Gen. (Dr.) Loree K. Sutton told the House Veterans Affairs Committee.

Sutton, director of the Defense Centers of Excellence for Psychological Health and Traumatic Brain Injury, testified along with Dr. Ira Katz, chief of the Veterans Affairs Department’s mental health services, during a committee hearing on suicide prevention.

In 2009, there were 312 confirmed suicides among servicemembers, of which 26 were in the reserve components, according to the Armed Forces Medical Examiner System, Sutton said in testimony submitted to the committee. The data shows those particularly at risk were white men younger than 25, with a rank at or below E-4 who were divorced and had not graduated from high school. Other common factors, as mirrored in the private sector, included substance abuse, relationships, legal or financial problems.

Read the whole piece here.

Monday, February 22, 2010

A Canadian Casualty in Afghanistan, Feb 12

It wasn't until yesterday in church that I learned of the death of Corporal Joshua Caleb Baker, killed in a training accident in Afghanistan on Friday, February 12th. Poor kid, between the Vancouver Olympics and the scandal over Canadian Forces Colonel Russell Williams, I wonder how many others didn't learn of your passing.

Cpl. Baker was 24 years old, and was a reservist, serving with the Loyal Edmonton Regiment, also known as the Fourth Battalion of the Princess Patricia Regiment. The "Loyal Eddies" as they are fondly known have a proud reputation in the Canadian army, going back to the battle of Ortona in Italy in 1942. Like my former battalion, 4RCR, they are one of several reserve regiments which form the fourth battalion of the three Regular Force infantry regiments.

Cpl. Baker was the 140th Canadian soldier to be killed in Afghanistan. According to CBC News, Baker's death was not combat-related. He was killed on a shooting range near Kandhar, and four others were injured in the incident. I don't wish to speculate on how the accident occurred, but I have watched soldiers moving through live-fire ranges and while it is a controlled environment, it is not without danger. It is also vital that soldiers acquire the experience of handling and firing live weapons in all kinds of circumstances in order to be effective on the battlefield.

Cpl. Baker's body returned to Trenton, ON, on Monday, February 15th. Rest eternal grant unto him, O Lord, and may light perpetual shine upon him.

Friday, February 12, 2010

A Military Chaplain: "The Silent Power of Good"

I was very pleased to open February 3rd's issue of the CF newspaper The Maple Leaf and see a piece on my friend Padre Jean Francois Noel, chaplain to the 2nd Battalion of the French-Canadian Royal 22nd Regiment, based in Valcartier, Quebec. I had the privilege of doing Basic Training with J-F as we called him, and at 26 years old he holds the distinction of being the youngest chaplain in the CF.

I especially liked JF's analogy, “The chaplain is like the yeast in the dough. It doesn’t take much of it for the dough to rise, but if it is not there, nothing happens. If the chaplain does good, good things happen, which is important for the unit.” Read the whole piece here.

The Archbishop of Canterbury's Presidential Address to the CofE General Synod

I found much to admire in ++Rowan Cantuar's Presidential Address given this Tuesday,fand typical of his subtle-minded and careful reasoning. I like the way he starts by speaking of the dangers posed by governments overriding the freedoms of communities and groups, as with the legal euthansia debate in Great Britain, and then extends that same concern to debates within the Anglican Communion which likewise would claim freedom of action while impairing or denying the freedoms and liberties of others. ++Rowan suggests a more nuanced, careful approach to other groups and ideas which he calls "three dimensionality": Seeing something in three dimensions is seeing that I can't see everything at once: what's in front of me is not just the surface I see in this particular moment. So seeing in three dimensions requires us to take time with what we see".

Here's the concluding paragraph his address, which I particularly like.

"It is only a three-dimensional vision that can save us from real betrayal of what God has given us. It will oblige us to ask not how we can win this or that conflict but what we have to give to our neighbour for sanctification in Christ's name and power. It will oblige us to think hard about freedom and mutuality and the genuine difficulty of balancing costs or restraints in order to keep life moving around the Body. It will deepen our desire to be fed and instructed by each other, so that we are all the more alarmed at the prospect of being separated in the zero-sum, self-congratulating mode that some seem to be content with. If, as Our Lord says, the blessed are those who are hungry for God's justice, perhaps we shall discover our blessedness as we hunger for what the neighbour, the stranger and the opponent has to give – and find the time for them to give it and us to receive it: 'doing justice' to them in their three-dimensional reality. And we may be able to show to the world a face rather different from that anxious, self-protective image that is so much in danger of entrenching itself in the popular mind as the typical Christian position. I deeply believe that this Church and this Synod is still capable of showing that face and pray that God will reveal such a vision in us and for us."

Thank you, Archbishop, for your words and for your example. MP+

Michael Valpy's Anglican Church Deathwatch

In Tuesday's Globe and Mail (below), Michael Valpy suggested that Olympic tourists in BC visit an Anglican church while any are still open. I've read the report of the Diocese of British Columbia that Valpy cites, and to my mind it's a smart attempt to call local parishes to evangelism as well as a way of pooling resources to build larger regional churches rather than maintain the old village parish model. MP+

Michael Valpy

From Wednesday's Globe and Mail
Published on Tuesday, Feb. 09, 2010 9:18PM EST

Last updated on Thursday, Feb. 11, 2010 3:11AM EST

The Anglican Church in Canada – once as powerful in the nation's secular life as it was in its soul – may be only a generation away from extinction, says a just-published assessment of the church's future.

The report, prepared for the Anglican Diocese of British Columbia, calls Canada a post-Christian society in which Anglicanism is declining faster than any other denomination. It says the church has been “moved to the far margins of public life.”

Read the whole article here.

AWOL US Soldier, Single Mother, Not to be Court-Martialled for Child Care Issues

Before every deployment, soldiers are expected to file family care plans detailing how their dependants will be looked after during the member's absence. For single parents, and there are more than a few in the military, arranging for child care during a lenghty deployment can be difficult. This piece from the NY Times shows how the US military is dealing with one such case. MP+

Published: February 11, 2010
Specialist Alexis Hutchinson, a 21-year-old Army cook and single parent, was days from deploying to Afghanistan last fall when her mother backed out of an agreement to take care of her 10-month-old son for the duration of her one-year tour.

Angelique Hughes, Specialist Hutchinson's mother, found she was unable to help.
Specialist Hutchinson’s mother, Angelique Hughes, had a child of her own at home and was also caring for a sick sister while running a day care center from her home in Oakland, Calif. Feeling overwhelmed, Ms. Hughes took the boy back to Savannah, Ga., where Specialist Hutchinson was based, and begged her to find someone else.

Read the whole piece here.

Saturday, February 6, 2010

Rabbits In My Basement - Shout Out

No rabbits in my basement, but that's the name of a blog launched by a friend. For several years James has been amusing his friends with wise and funny takes on life in his emailed "Adventures of Rubberman". His blog promises more of the same as well as shots of his painted miniature wargame figures (he does some nice work), like these finely painted Victorian era Scots infantry:

Good work, James, keep the posts coming.

A Prayer for Military Leaders

Admiral Mike Mullen, the Chair of the United States Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke at the National Prayer Breakfast last week about the importance of reflection and careful reasoning by military leaders. He offered a prayer which is worth repeating in full, and worth saying for all in positions of military authority:

"Father in heaven, we gather today to ask your blessing over the lives and decisions of those who lead us around the world.

"Theirs is a mighty task and a noble calling. For upon their shoulders rest the hopes and dreams of billions of people -- not only of this generation, but of future generations who know us not. May you guide them in that pursuit, oh Lord.

"Give them the faith to seek your guidance, the wisdom to make the right decisions and the character to see those decisions through. Help them choose love over hate, courage over fear, principle over expediency. Let them always seek concord and peace, and to remember that the best leader is a good and humble servant.

"Encourage them, Father, to seek your counsel as Solomon himself did in 1 Kings, Chapter 3, saying to you, 'But I am only a little child and do not know how to carry out my duties, so give me a discerning heart to govern your people and to distinguish between right and wrong.'

"May you bless us all, Lord – your children – and give our leaders that same discerning heart. Help us always to distinguish between right and wrong and to serve others before ourselves. This we pray in thy name, Amen."

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Wiccans, pagans gain stone circle spot at US Air Force Academy

Interesting example of how chaplains are called to serve military members of different faiths (religious accomodation) from USA Today, as picked up by the Titus One Nine website, where some of the comments are less than kind. MP+

DENVER (AP) (AP) — The Air Force Academy has set aside an outdoor worship area for Pagans, Wiccans, Druids and other Earth-centered believers, school officials said Monday.
A double circle of stones atop a hill on the campus near Colorado Springs has been designated for the group, which previously met indoors.

"Being with nature and connecting with it is kind of the whole point," said Tech. Sgt. Brandon Longcrier, who sponsors the group and describes himself as a Pagan. "It will dramatically improve that atmosphere, the mindset and the actual connection."

The stones were moved to the hilltop last year because erosion threatened to make them unstable in their previous location near the visitors center. Crews arranged them in two concentric circles because they thought it would be a pleasant place for cadets to relax, Longcrier said.

When Longcrier and academy chaplains were looking for an outdoor worship space, they discovered one already existed in the form of the circles.

Read the whole piece here.

Notable Quotable: Stephen Walt on Gays in the US MIlitary

Came across this piece on the Foreign Policy website today by Stephen M. Walt, a self-described "Realist in an Ideological Age":

"As a senior officer commented during my visit to the Truman last week, it is a good thing for the U.S. military to be a fairly accurate reflection of American society rather than an artificial caste, and repealing "don't ask, don't tell" is a positive step in that direction. And contrary to what narrow-minded bigots might think, we'll get a better fighting force out of it too."

Read the whole piece here.

Mad Padre

Mad Padre
Opinions expressed within are in no way the responsibility of anyone's employers or facilitating agencies and should by rights be taken as nothing more than one person's notional musings, attempted witticisms, and prayerful posturings.


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