By Charity Springer
Every day Alex Brown starts his day at 6 a.m. He doesn’t go to work and sit at a desk or teach in a classroom. Instead, he prepares, and helps others prepare, for possible deployment.
Alex, a combat medic stationed at Fort Campbell in Kentucky, manages operations at a clinic for his battalion. After quick fixes, he handles patients. His infantry battalion has 800 soldiers and he handles the health care for all of them.
The medics make sure everyone at their base is medically ready and up to standard for possible deployment. They make sure everyone is good and healthy, and if they’re not, they set them up with the proper care and are allowed time to heal and recover appropriately.
“The basic medics are constantly preparing for combat settings. As medics we train and do medicine. Whatever we need to do when we head out somewhere,” said Alex. They also do movement drills and spend time on rifle ranges to better their combat skills.
Mark Morton, a gunnery sergeant in the Marine Corps stationed at the Naval Chaplaincy School and Center at Fort Jackson in South Carolina, spends many of his days with students and teaching them about the possible situations they may face.
“My tasks vary from administrative tasks, troop handling, instruction in basic military subjects, field training and close order drill. I also take the students to the field for one week in the second phase of our training. During this time we remain in the field, learning basic tactical formations, land navigation, tactical movements, as well as completing the rappel tower, gas chamber, confidence course, day and night land navigation, medical simulation training and team building exercises,” said Mark.
Congregations offer grounding in faith and community
Although Alex and Mark are in two different places doing two completely different things, they are similar in some ways. They have both traveled to several places, been deployed to Afghanistan, and they both agree that their congregations, whether they are home congregations or ones near their bases, are very important to them during this time in their lives.
Alex explained the benefits of being involved with a nearby congregation, Christ Lutheran Church. “I found a local church in Clarksville, Tenn. It’s very warm, very welcoming, and military friendly. People there are active and retired and part of the military life. It’s a unique camaraderie. Every Sunday, we have a time to pray for all soldiers,” Alex said. “It keeps me connected and grounded in faith and involved in doing community things, and I feel that I am able to connect with the broader church.”
Mark also described why his congregation is important to not only him, but to his family as well. “My family and I constantly move, usually once every three years. My church is my family away from my family; they fill an important role in my life, as well as my family’s life. Many times, I am away from home, ranging from a few weeks of temporary duty or six- to eight-month deployments. My church steps in to fill the gaps while I am away.”
Keep the care coming
There are ways that congregations can care for their members that are deployed or stationed somewhere away from home. Care packages are always a good way to show support, and one of the biggest ways to care for them is to be involved and keep in touch.
“Receiving communication from that home congregation while you’re away is touching. I remember receiving a letter that was really heart-felt, but it’s also nice to be able to continue to know what’s going on with your home congregation,” said Alex.
Care packages and communication is just one way we can thank those who are doing so much for us.
Alex explained, “Being able to take care of my guys – my battalion – is the best. I joined to provide good care for others who lay their lives down for our country and for us. I’m able to take care of them and that’s an awesome experience and journey.”
“Being a Marine gives me the opportunity to serve my country and to be a part of the armed forces that keeps America free,” said Mark.
No matter what military personnel do from day-to-day, where they serve and what sacrifices they make on behalf of others, congregations are an important source of recognition and appreciation, and individual and family support and care.
Charity Springer is a recent graduate of Northwestern College in Orange City, Iowa, and lives in Dorchester, Neb.