KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany –
That was the message from Chaplain Col. Karen Meeker, the Landstuhl Regional Medical Center command chaplain, to 7th Mission Support Command Soldiers and civilians.
Meeker spoke about resiliency to a group of about two dozen personnel in the 7th MSC classroom during a brown-bag lunch.
She has served as a chaplain with some of the Army’s most storied combat units, including the 82nd Airborne Division, the 101st Airborne Division and the 1st Armor Division, said Donald Smith, himself a chaplain with the 7th MSC and the command’s suicide prevention program manager.
“She has done an incredible job at Landstuhl,” he said.
Meeker said the world is changing at a rapid pace, but challenges are also opportunities.
“Has there ever been a time when there haven’t been challenges?” Meeker said. “We have our own challenges that we must face and overcome like the people before us.”
Meeker started learning about dreaming big as she grew up in a tightly-knit small town near Philadelphia.
“The world was at my feet and my community supported that,” she said.
In her small-town childhood, Meeker learned to listen to the wisdom of others.
“I had many mentors who helped me to learn,” she said.
In that small-town environment, Meeker never feared setting a goal that was too high.
Her mantra was tested after she joined the military while stationed at Fort Bragg.
Her left leg was severely injured when she was hit by a car. She was not sure if she would be able to run, or even walk, again.
While still on crutches, however, Meeker decided she was going to complete an Iron Man Triathlon. A year later, she finished her first of five triathlons.
The toughest part about the Iron Man event was running a marathon after a seven-hour bike riding event, she said.
“No matter how bad I feel, I tell myself, ‘Find a rhythm,’” she added. “Your body finds a rhythm.”
Finding a rhythm is important in daily life, too, especially when facing a crisis, Meeker said. The military term is “battle rhythm,” meaning a routine that is performed every day.
It’s easy to get tunnel vision and focus only on the immediate crisis, but by getting into a rhythm, a person can avoid missing other important tasks while responding to a calamity, she said.
“The first rule of flying is, if something happens, keep flying the plane,” she added.
The luncheon event was the first in a series of regular resiliency lunches, said James Otto, 7th MSC command executive officer.
The program is designed to focus on the human dimension of meeting readiness goals, he said. Leaders have to focus on “mission first, but people always,” he said.
“Without people, we cannot do the job,” he added.