The U.S. Army Reserve Legal Command recently hosted its first “Building Strong and Ready Teams” (BSRT) event during the Regional Collective Training (RCT) Southeast to promote holistic health in judge advocate attorneys, legal administrators, and paralegals from all three U.S. Army components, Feb. 24, 2023.
The chaplain-led initiative draws its origins from the original “Strong Bonds” program. Chaplain (Maj.) Timothy Usset led the event. A Troop Program Unit Reservist, Usset also serves the Department of Veterans Affairs as a mental health and spiritual care researcher, holding a Master of Divinity, MA in Marriage and Family Therapy, and a Master of Public Health.
The event focused on promoting general wellbeing and mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness for Soldiers of all ranks and their Families. 12 servicemembers attended the event, ranging from E-4 to O-5 across the active component, U.S. Army Reserve, and Army National Guard.
The BSRT provided a space for Soldiers reconnect with the “why” of what makes them do this work through a live, dynamic conversation amongst the facilitators and attendees.
“We spent time talking about meaning and purpose in life,” explained Usset, “why we joined the military, why we became legal professionals/Soldiers… how we can be supportive of that as we continue to serve both as dual civilians and servicemembers, and how our belief systems or values can sometimes be challenged by our service.”
Conversations strengthened the viewpoints Soldiers have with their spiritual value system and personal values serving as their and foundation and motivation to serve. The intimate group setting was undeniably a factor in fostering sincere, authentic conversations.
“In smaller group discussion, there’s a lot of give and take in terms of ideas and content; how people process different life events through military service, pay, relationship concerns, and the challenges of navigating multiple careers,” said Usset.
“Hearing about people who are in similar situations like me was helpful to think about how to approach situations and dealing with personal and military life,” said Lt. Col. Virginia Tinsley, an active-duty Staff Judge Advocate stationed Fort Rucker, Ala. who participated in the BSRT. She also praised Usset’s skills in keeping the group engaged and demonstrating leadership characteristics she hopes to emulate in the future, especially as she aims to share the lessons of the event to her team of 40+ military attorneys, paralegals, and Department of the Army Civilians.
“We nurture the living, we care for the wounded, and we honor the dead,” said Usset about the role a Chaplain has in an Army unit. “In terms of morale and spiritual/emotional fitness, services include face-to-face counseling, advising the command, and religious support.” Despite the religious origin of the title “chaplain,” members of the Unit Ministry Team are professionals trained to serve any spiritual need regardless of religion or spiritual beliefs. Chaplains provide support, motivation, and emotional guidance to all Soldiers and their families.
To register for a local BSRT event, contact your command UMT at: https://bsrt.army.mil/.