Spiritual Support

Spiritual Support

The Army Recovery Care Program defines spirituality as: “One's purpose, core values, beliefs, identity and life vision. These elements, which define the essence of a person, enable one to build inner strength, make meaning of experiences, behave ethically, persevere through challenges and be resilient when faced with adversity. An individual's spirituality draws upon personal, philosophical, psychological and/or religious teachings, and forms the basis of their character.”

According to Military Medicine (2010), the journal of the Association of Military Surgeons of the United States (AMSUS), the evidence for the health benefits of spirituality include:

  1. Hope and optimism
  2. Decreased incidence of depression
  3. Lower suicide rates
  4. Less anxiety
  5. Lower incidence of alcohol and drug abuse
  6. Greater marital stability
  7. Less risky behavior
  8. Longevity

Though no Soldier can be forced to set goals in the spiritual domain, they are strongly encouraged to do so as a part of their participation in the Army Recovery Care Program (ARCP). Spiritual Goal setting comprises one-sixth of the Soldier’s Comprehensive Transition Plan (CTP). Through this process, the Soldier integrates spirituality into his or her overall healing process. First, the Soldier takes a ARCP Spiritual Assessment in order to define what spirituality means for him or her. The survey contains 23 multiple-choice questions and 3 open-ended questions. It takes the Soldier approximately 30 minutes to complete.

Next, a member of the inter-disciplinary team (usually an occupational therapist or social worker) sits down with the Soldier and uses the ARCP Spiritual Assessment Goal Interpretation Guide   as means of establishing specific, measurable, actionable, realistic and time-bound (SMART) goals. Those goals are then entered into the Army Recovery Care Program System (ARCPS). With a baseline of spiritual goals established, the Soldier can reassess those goals at any time in the healing process.

The Soldier then integrates his or her Spiritual goals into daily activities. Family members, caregivers and inter-disciplinary team members play an active role in helping the Soldier meet his spiritual goals. Key team members and cadre who are involved in helping the Soldier in the spiritual domain fall into three main categories: Commander and command cadre; chaplain or other spiritual caregiver; and clinician.

How Cadre Support the Spiritual Domain

Commander and command Cadre: A commander’s first responsibility in regards to spirituality is to ensure that a Soldier’s constitutionally protected free exercise of religion is upheld. Commanders and command representatives such as squad leaders, platoon sergeants and first sergeants should do everything possible to help a Soldier in his or her spiritual pursuits. This may include reasonable accommodations to the Soldier’s needs such as worship or dietary considerations.

Chaplain or other spiritual caregiver: Subject matter experts in religion and spirituality can provide valuable feedback and support for a Soldier in achieving his or her spiritual goals. Warrior Transition Unit (WTU) unit chaplains have a sacred responsibility to perform or provide specific services that can help the Soldier to meet these goals. They also must advise the commander in this process as they interact with the Soldier and his or her S.M.A.R.T. goals.

Clinician: Though they are mainly concerned with physical healing, primary care providers, nurse case managers and other clinical care givers should encourage a Soldier in his or her spiritual development as a way of facilitating overall healing. The holistic nature of the WCTP includes physical as well as meta-physical modalities.

Additional Resources

For additional information on spiritual goal setting, ARCP resources include:

Other Department of Defense (DoD) spirituality resources include:

External spirituality resources include:

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