05 Sept 03, Friday—Marines to the rescue
Camp Doha, Kuwait
It is Friday; I am sponsoring a noontime clinicians’ meeting and CME. I am able to gift several of the 804th staff with donated Jewish calendars and I finally find two takers for High Holiday cards. Apparently I am not unusual in not sending out cards—most of us don’t write cards, as I was informed by the three who had already turned them down.
The meeting went well but the clinical crew could not be bribed to stay for services, even with a promise of a late ride back to Camp Wolf. All three will be there for High Holy Days.
At the chapel, we have a young soldier and a marine. It is nice to have a service for more than two. Both men are stationed at Camp Commando (the Marine camp) and have not been to services since their Rabbi redeployed. One has a great singing voice. We manage services, finding melodies in common, Kaddish, standing for the Amidah (the silent devotional prayer), finishing up with Kiddush and yet another Passover pound cake.
They need to call for a ride back to camp. Their Post Chaplains’ office had agreed to give them a ride over and back. Well, the ride over had fallen through, but they were promised a ride home if they took the bus here. I find them a phone and they call, but there is no intelligent life at the far end.
Why don’t they just stay overnight, and catch the bus back in the morning?
Seems like the Post Chaplain now thinks that one of the unit chaplains should solve his problem. This nice young specialist does not have a phone number to his unit chaplain or unit. Ok. Now, I have always been of the belief that the Marines are like family, no one else is allowed to pick on you, just the family.
Our EOC has a phone number for 1MEF (1st Marine Expeditionary Force) EOC at Commando. The force protection officer has a phone number for the guard sergeant. The guard crew says—hey, we can come get you, you need to be on duty at 0700 in the morning, and the bus does not get here till 0800. They even will give the army kid a ride. It is late, but the Marines to come to the rescue.
Since I am located on the post with regular services, this brings home to me in rather brutal fashion why so few of the junior service members participate. They have to go out of their way, asking either their unit, or chaplain’s office to do something special for them. This makes them standout and is isolating. It is not in the normal military mindset for a junior soldier to request special arrangements. It doesn’t seem to matter that this is clearly the responsibility of the chaplain’s office, and that the chaplain’s main job is looking out for spiritual well-being of the soldiers. It just is not happening.
Looks like the Marine corporal will be around for the High Holy Days. The army specialist will be likely deployed north. It will better for him; he will be on the main camp in Iraq that is hosting High Holiday services.