September 4, 2012
By Sgt. Christopher Johnston
Soldiers currently deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, are enduring long hours of training in harsh weather conditions and maintaining readiness for any situation their country needs them. Although the physical exertion and physical strength of a Soldier is clearly seen, spiritual strength is not as easily observed.
Soldiers of today’s Army are not only been dealing with multiple deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan; they battle with being separated from their friends and families for long periods of time. Some have to struggle with maintaining relationships with spouses and children from the other side of the world for extended periods. Financial hardships can also occur while deployed. A deployed Soldier must face these problems from afar.
Because of these added stress factors of Soldiers today, the Army developed the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, or CSF, program, which began in October 2009. The CSF’s vision is to achieve an Army of balanced, healthy, self-confident Soldiers, families and Army civilians whose resilience and total fitness enables them to thrive in an era of high operational tempo and persistent conflict. There are five dimensions of comprehensive fitness: physical, family, social, emotional and spiritual.
Soldiers deployed to Camp Buehring, Kuwait, attended a Spiritual Fitness Breakfast Saturday at the main dining facility to strengthen their spiritual resiliency.
More than 500 Soldiers attended the breakfast. All faiths and beliefs were welcomed as discrimination for one’s belief in the Army is not tolerated.
A goal of the event was to raise awareness of the importance of Soldiers’ spirituality.
Lt. Gen. Vincent K. Brooks, commanding general, Third Army/U.S. Army Central, attended the breakfast and spoke to the Soldiers at Camp Buehring.
“You may feel like you’re struggling to even discover your spirit, that’s a good struggle, you are trying to find that part that’s deep inside of you that can’t touch, you can’t lift weights and make better,” said Brooks. “Unlike physical fitness, spiritual fitness is difficult to measure.”
Brooks challenged the Soldiers to combine the physical training they are receiving with their own spiritual path to become a stronger, more balanced Soldier.
“Hang on to your spirit when all else around is failing around you, when physically you are broken, when there is sadness or despair.” said Brooks. The spirit is a foundation of CSF; resiliency of spirit is required by Soldiers to overcome the stresses of deployments. Resiliency is a tool to help Soldiers cope with living away from their families and the comforts of life back home.
Spiritual fitness is an area of development needed for all Soldiers, from the newest privates to commanding generals.
“We all need to understand who you are and where you are, and then accept it and work to move forward,” said Brooks. “We need to exercise, exercise, and exercise, physically, mentally and spiritually.”
“When you have someone as high ranking as a general speaking and giving you a message based off experience, that we are all human and how we can conquer our daily battles, is inspiring to me,” said Spc. Stephen Corrales, a medic assigned 1st Battalion 15th Infantry Regiment, 3rd Armored Brigade Combat Team, 3rd Infantry Division.
“In this day and age, I think there are a lot of people who have not been afforded the opportunity to have that spiritual strength in their upbringing. When they are put in an adverse situation like a deployment, to have other brother and sisters in uniform to grow with is important, but also to have something on the internal standpoint to grow from is very important too,” said Capt. Donald J Bigham, assigned to 1-15th, 3rd ABCT, 3rd ID.
Comprehensive Soldier Fitness is designed to raise the level of importance of psychological fitness to that of physical fitness. The program hails a new era and culture change for the Army, who now also equips and trains its Soldiers to maximize their potential and face the psychological rigors of sustained operations. This training enhances resilience and coping skills, enabling Soldiers to grow and thrive during this very demanding period of our Army.