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Minnesota National Guard
Guard celebrates Chaplain Corps' birthday

Chaplains cut a cake Shortly after the US Army was established in 1775 to free the 13 colonies from British rule, General George Washington created the Chaplain Corps to provide direct, religious support to the Soldiers in the Continental Army As told by Chap (Maj) Buddy Winn, full-time support chaplain for the Minnesota National Guard, Washington felt he couldn't win without divine support and the spiritual well-being of his Soldiers

More than 240 years later, the Chaplain Corps continues to thrive throughout the ranks by demonstrating three core competencies: nurturing the living, caring for the wounded and honoring the fallen On July 30, Minnesota National Guard members and employees of the Veteran's Service Building and Cedar Street Armory gathered at the Cedar Street Armory in St Paul to celebrate the history and ongoing work of the Chaplain Corps

"The mission of the US Army Chaplain Corps is to provide religious support to America's Army," said Winn "As personal staff officers, chaplains assist commanders at all levels in ensuring the right of free exercise of religion and providing spiritual, moral and ethical leadership to the Army"

There are currently more than 3,000 chaplains serving in the Army, representing 140 different religious organizations, said Winn Additionally, chaplains have served in all of the US's major wars and combat engagements since the Colonial Era

"We represent God's life-sustaining presence and power to Soldiers," said Winn "As we spend time with them, we relate to their experiences and share their struggles, and in the process form a bond of friendship that can't be broken"

Winn went on to commend the work of the entire Unit Ministry Team, comprised of chaplains at different echelons and supported by enlisted chaplain assistants (which will soon be renamed as religious affairs specialists) to assist in performing ministries He added that these teams are not mandated to pray a certain way or perform prescribed religious services, and the religious rights of all Soldiers remain well protected

"For more than 30 years, I have had the privilege of commanding men and women who have volunteered to serve our nation and state," said Minnesota National Guard Adjutant General, Maj. Gen. Richard C Nash, who was unable to attend but had remarks read by Winn "The positive impact that a competent and ready Unit Ministry Team can have on the force cannot be understated"

Winn concluded the ceremony by recognizing the retired chaplains in attendance and raising awareness of the Care to the Caregiver Campaign, which aims to identify stressors and self-defeating behaviors that affect clergy members - service members who are less likely to seek assistance in trying times

"It's a hard, humbling thing to acknowledge our brokenness before God and others," Winn said "Please pray for the Care to Caregiver Campaign, and that the members of our Chaplain Corps would find encouragement, support, strength and healing"

Story and Photos by Staff Sgt Patrick Loch
Minnesota National Guard Public Affairs
11 August, 2015

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