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NEWS | June 10, 2016

Chaplain provide hope, synergy to 1-174

By Staff Sgt. Debra Richardson 354th Mobile Public Affairs Detachment

It’s been said that distance makes love grow fonder, but Soldiers know that separation from family can create financial duress, increase stress and exasperate already existing issues. Nothing brings down morale faster than a group of Soldiers who feel helpless to solve family problems while thousands of miles away.

“It’s nice to have the chaplain with us during Exercise Anaconda 2016 because he’s always smiling and making light conversation,” remarked Pfc. Ryan Neiheisel, air missile crew defense member from Cincinnati, Ohio. “No matter how crappy circumstances are at home or with the mission, he’s always here to talk, and it helps get our minds off stressful things.”

When Bentley first arrived at the 1-174, he realized that the majority of the Soldiers believed his role was strictly spiritual but he continues to express that he is here to care for them through difficult circumstances, regardless of their faith.

“When you establish relationships with Soldiers, and they know they can come to you with their struggles, they always return to report the progress of their situation.” said Bentley. “I am probably the only individual that Soldiers can come to in a time of need that they don’t have to put up barriers. They understand that I am a confidential source, and what they say stays with me.”

These close relationships allow Bentley to accurately gauge the morale of the Soldiers, a key component to being a chaplain.

“Chaplains take that individual support role from command staff and report the vibe of the unit to the command about the morale,” Lt. Col. Gregory Rogers, battalion commander of the 1-174. “This gives me, as the commander, a better perspective, so that we can help the Soldiers get what they need, even if it’s only morale support.”

With the unit spread out all over Poland, Bentley has spent a lot of time on the road, travelling to different sites to offer religious services, mentorship and conversation. At a recent site visit, Bentley could sense morale was low due to the austere living conditions. He asked if the Soldiers needed anything, and most said no but many mentioned longing for a cold Coke. Hours later, Bentley returned with cold Cokes for everyone.