MARINE CORPS BASE CAMP LEJEUNE, N.C -- Whether charging toward known enemies across the black sand beaches of Iwo Jima or trudging through the powdery grit of sun-scorched Iraq, alert for hidden threats, Marines often look to a higher power to see them through the day.
Day-to-day life on the home front can also challenge each of us. For this reason, U.S. Navy Chaplains throughout the Corps provide a wide range of resources and programs to help maintain the spiritual strength of service members of all faiths and beliefs.
One such program is the six-week “Coping as Christians” class initiated by U.S. Marine Corps Forces, Special Operations Command Chaplain, Commander Dale C. White.
“MARSOC Marines and Sailors work in a fast-paced, stressful, always-growing environment,” explained White. “This class can be a break from that. It can also help them relax and look at work in a different way.”
Throughout the series of classes, attendees come together to work through a guidebook that covers subjects including stress, depression and how to deal with the daily grind of life.
Gunnery Sgt. Shawn A. Martin, engineer equipment chief for Marine Special Operations Support Group, believes the program is a refreshing and uplifting experience.
“This class is like a breath of fresh air,” explained Martin. “Attending the class with co-workers can create a better environment to work in.”
The program is open to all MARSOC personnel, regardless of their spiritual and religious beliefs.
“Anyone can take something from this class,” explained White. “This class can help you in your religious and personal life as well as your professional career.”
Martin’s faith helped him persevere through some of the toughest times in his life. In 2004, he deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom, when he took charge of 65 Marines and made sure he brought each one home safely to their families.
“I couldn’t have done that alone,” explained Martin. “I looked to my faith continuously to see us through.”
Martin said he will continue to attend the class to continue strengthening his faith.
Chaplain White believes spiritual well-being is as important to a Marine as physical training and is an important part of a Marine’s well-being while deployed to a hostile environment.
“One can look at this class as spiritual PT,” said White, a chaplain of 16 years. “This class can keep you spiritually fit.”
“The unique mission of MARSOC as part of U.S. Special Operations Command will become more critical as MARSOC grows and expands,” White continued. “Chaplains and religious program specialists will always be there for MARSOC, as we have always been there for the Marine Corps.”
“This class is a way to keep us focused on the important things in life, while coming together as Christians to further our faith,” said White, who plans to continue this class and begin others like it in order to continue building the spiritual strength of service members of all faiths and religious beliefs.