Garrison Chaplains Provide Vital Mental Health, Vacation Advice | Item


Chaplain (Maj.) Michael Dawson is the Garrison Family Life Chaplain. Chaplains play a unique role in soldiering mental health counseling and are a critical player in the garrison’s first line of effort: people, put people first.

Photo credit: Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Randall Curry
(Photo credit: US Army)


KAISERSLAUTERN, Germany – Chaplain (Maj.) Michael Dawson understands the unique challenge that life as a soldier can face while on vacation or any other time of year. On the one hand, he’s a soldier. On the other hand, he listens to the many other soldiers who come to him at the US Army garrison Rheinland-Pfalz in Germany.

Chaplains are also a unique part of a Soldier’s sanity options and a critical player in the Garrison’s first line of effort: People, put people first.

“I am the family life chaplain,” said Major Michael Dawson, garrison family life chaplain. “I understand the DSM, I don’t diagnose anyone, but I understand these aspects. I am also a pastor, so I integrate the two. Understanding someone’s story, whether religious or not, is what we do, it is our vocation.

The DSM is the Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders that defines and categorizes mental disorders in order to improve diagnosis, treatment, and research. Entering the holiday season, Dawson said he sees people who sometimes suffer from seasonal affective disorder.

According to the National Institute of Health, SAD is a type of depression that typically recurs during seasonal pattern changes and includes symptoms such as excessive sleep, social withdrawal, feeling depressed, and loss of energy. interest in activities.

“We have to normalize the SAD, there is a medical side like you need vitamin D, but there is also a psychological side,” Dawson said. “I don’t like it when I come to work and it is dark and I leave when it is dark.”

They also see people struggling with suicidal thoughts. According to the Atlanta Centers for Disease Control, suicide rates increased 33% between 1999 and 2019, with a slight drop in 2019. Suicide is the 10th leading cause of death in the United States. He was responsible for more than 47,500 deaths in 2019, or about one death every 11 minutes

“We see people who are suicidal and if they want help we help them find the resources they need,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Randall Curry, chaplain garrison leader . “Most of the time a suicidal person seeking help wants help, they just might not know how to get it and we help them with that.”

Curry and Dawson noted that seeking the assistance of a chaplain guarantees confidentiality.

“Chaplains have 100% privacy, so your story is safe with us,” Dawson said. “It opens the door for someone to tackle what is really bothering them because they know it’s not going anywhere and they can really figure out what this problem really is.”

Chaplains have a master’s degree in seminary, and most programs include courses in pastoral counseling. For family life counselors like Dawson, they need to earn a master’s degree in marriage and family therapy and take additional training with the military.

“We see couples for marriage counseling, sometimes someone just wants faith counseling,” Dawson said. “I also saw children. This type of advice is different, we can do advice based on the game. “

There is no limit to the number of times you can receive guidance from a chaplain, Dawson explained.

“In the event of infidelity, I’ve seen couples 30 or 40 times to help them cope with whatever they’re going through,” Dawson continued.

For Dawson, this profession is something that fascinates him. And for the holiday season, it’s something that they’re all genuinely focusing their efforts on making sure people can be the happiest and most fulfilled.

“I love my job, I have the best job in the military, just as a chaplain,” Dawson said. “As part of a church, we are often separated from our congregation. Here we do everything with our congregation, it is very different from the ministry of the church and I like it.

Soldiers, Airmen and their family members can receive guidance from garrison chaplains, battalion chaplains, or one of the many interconnected points of contact across the garrison.

“The only thing about Army chaplains is that we don’t just help soldiers and their families, we can also help the Air Force and their families,” Dawson said. “You can find a link to an email on the garrison webpage that will reach our office here and we often get, ‘hey, I want to meet someone for marriage counseling. “


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