Provider chaplains hold prayer luncheon

Story and photo by Spc. Michael Camacho
139th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment
13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) Public Affairs

JOINT BASE BALAD, Iraq — Chaplains with the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) held the command's first prayer luncheon in the Audie Murphy Room at the Oasis Dining Facility, March 17 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.

The event was open to all service members at JBB, but the luncheon's theme of endurance was aimed toward the 13th SC(E) moving into the last quarter of its 12-month deployment in Iraq.

The message of the luncheon was finding the endurance to complete the mission and drive on during deployments overseas, said Lt. Col. Roy Walker, the command chaplain with the 13th SC(E).

"As you get closer to the last quarter that's when people can see the finish line, but they get a little worried about it," he said.

The luncheon was held to bring hope and peace of mind to service members, said Walker, an Elizabethtown, Ky., native. The topics discussed helped add a level of spiritual, mental and physical reinforcement, which is a top priority for Brig. Gen. Paul L. Wentz, the commanding general of the 13th SC(E) and a Mansfield, Ohio, native, as well as the command staff, he said.

"For some, it was probably spiritual renewal," said Walker. "For others it was something to think about, to lift them up if they were feeling physically weary or emotionally that they cannot go any farther."

Capt. Wanda Acevedo, the plans and operations chaplain with the 13th SC(E), said this type of event supports the inner strength of Soldiers.

"It is a time to give religious support and pastoral care, and provide all these things in our units and community," said Acevedo, a San Juan, Puerto Rico, native. "It's a time to stop, reflect, recharge and continue."

Endurance is about finding the strength to cross limits and barriers, said Acevedo. With all the different stress factors during deployments, endurance becomes a valuable tool needed to continue the day-to-day mission, she said.

The 13th SC(E) and its command staff have put a focus on the spiritual needs of its Soldiers in the deployed environment, said Master Sgt. Michael Bair, the command chaplain assistant with the 13th SC(E).

"The Army as a whole has come down to say there are multiple facets of someone's fitness; one of them is spiritual fitness," he said.

The prayer luncheon gave service members time to stop and become spiritually focused, said Bair, a Fredericksburg, Va., native.

"It's a time to slow down, to think, to refocus and go back out and continue driving on with your deployment," he said.

Walker said roughly 80 service members attended the prayer luncheon, and the 13th SC(E)'s chaplain corps has slated another to be held May 19.


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Soldiers bow their heads during the first prayer luncheon held by the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) and its chaplain corps, March 17 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq

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Leaders and chaplains from the major commands on base were invited to attend the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary)'s prayer luncheon March 17 at Joint Base Balad, Iraq.