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NEWS | Oct. 22, 2018

Forum brings military, civilian religious leaders together

By Staff Sgt. Teresa J. Cleveland 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Ministers, pastors and deacons from the Hampton Roads community gathered with Joint Base Langley-Eustis chaplains for the first Shared Ministry Forum here, Oct. 11, 2018.

The forum brought on- and off-post religious leaders together to build relationships and provide information to support service members within their community.

“We know that not all of the service members who work here are coming to the chapel services on base--a lot of them are going to churches in the local community,” said U.S. Army Chaplain (Col.) James Palmer, U.S. Army Training and Doctrine Command chaplain. “The intent here is to just make the local religious leaders aware of some of the resources that are available to the service members here on post as well as off post.”

The forum focused on domestic violence and how religious leaders can counsel and support service members who may have issues unique to military families. Lunch was provided for attendees to allow time for discussion and feedback on forum topics.

“We selected October to do this because it’s Domestic Violence Prevention Month,” Palmer said. “It’s also Pastor Appreciation Month so we wanted to show we appreciate them and we’re here to support them.”

Representatives from Family Advocacy and the Hampton Veterans Affairs Medical Center Intimate Partner Violence Assistance Program presented information on resources and programs available to Service members and their families within their organizations.

Larry Rieger, Saint Michael and All Angels Charismatic Episcopal Church resident deacon, teaches ethics and leadership with the ROTC programs at the College of William and Mary, and Christopher Newport University. He believes this forum can help him better educate cadets about the challenges they are going to have to face as officers in the U.S. military and how they can support their units.

“There are unique problems service members deal with and this forum provides exposure to those stressors to those of us off-base,” Rieger said. “The more local communities understand these stressors, the more they can focus their ministry programs to deal with them.”

Chaplains from JBLE hope to continue fostering their relationship with religious leaders in the community by hosting more forums like this one covering a variety of topics in the future.