Gold Country Chaplaincy in Washington D.C.
June 21st, 2011
Chaplain Terry Morgan, of Gold Country Chaplaincy based in Placer County was invited to the White House last week. He was asked to go to Washington to do a briefing for Army One Source on June 16th, and to attend a briefing at the White House for Community Leaders on June 17th.
The first invitation came from Army One Source. Gold Country Chaplaincy has been working with Army One Source for some time. They have teamed up to help raise awareness among the faith based community in Northern CA, about the special needs of military, veterans and their families. The focus has been on those coming home from the Global War on Terrorism.
President Obama issued a directive to his administration to do more to support and strengthen our military. Part of this initiative is to target military families. It was designed to promote strength and resiliency. Navy Admiral Mike Mullen, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff put it well when he said, “Americans must recognize the sacrifices and struggles of today's troops and their families and work harder to reintegrate them into their communities…”
Gold Country Chaplaincy has been working with Army One Source since February, to create support groups in Placer and Sacramento Counties. Chaplain Morgan was asked to go to Washington D.C. to report on our progress to a high level panelist group including James Abney, Deputy to the Commanding General; Robert L. Gordon III, Deputy Assistant Secretary of Defense; and other high ranking dignitaries.
Our assessment of soldier and family need shows there are not enough support groups for military family and friends. Many of the counties throughout CA are rural, and even those that are not, may not have a military base nearby. For example, the closest base to Sacramento is Mather Air Force Base. This is at least 1 ½ hours away from Sacramento.
Support groups are needed to address military culture and challenges throughout CA. Our military and their families need to be able to be around people who “speak the same language”. For example, when a soldier talks about the “theater” they are talking about a battle, not about seeing the latest Hollywood movie. Our goal is to provide safe places where family and friends can come together for support and networking. This will encourage support and decrease isolation for them and their family. They will know they are not alone.
The potential impact of these support groups in CA is huge. There are approximately 450,800 military members just within the Army and National Guard that could be impacted by these support groups.
Chaplain Morgan was invited to the White House via a personal invitation from Rev. Terri LaVelle. Rev. LaVelle is the Director of the VA Center for Faith-based & Neighborhood Partnerships Office of the Secretary. This was part of the White House Community Leaders Briefing Series. Chaplain Morgan was invited because of his work with Veterans through Gold Country Chaplaincy, a faith based non-profit group. He was one of only 150 Community Leaders to attend this very special briefing put on by the White House Office of Public Engagement.
The purpose of the briefing was to update Community Leaders on current policy issues, and to hear from them on what is going on in their communities. Those in attendance were introduced to tools and resources. These tools are available to help keep us connected to the work of the President and the Administration.
Some of the subjects discussed included the President's economic Vision; an update on White House Initiatives; and overview of the Office of Public Engagement and Programs; messaging the President's agenda, and utilizing the White House website, www.Whitehouse.gov.
Open dialogue was encouraged, and there was plenty of time dedicated to feedback. The speakers included Michael Strautmanis, Deputy Assistant to the President; Carl Shapiro, Member of the Council of Economic Advisers; Jason Dempsey, White House Fellow, Office of the First Lady and others.
Chaplain Morgan said, “The part that stood out most to me was an update on the initiative called "Joining Forces" out of the office of the First Lady Michelle Obama.” This initiative calls for community groups, churches, etc to do more to reach out to and help our veterans, military, and their families. Chaplain Morgan went on to say, “This is a major goal of Gold Country Chaplaincy, so they immediately had my attention.” They talked about issues of wellness, education, and employment. You can find more information on this atwww.joiningforces.gov .
Chaplain Morgan said, “I was very excited to get the invitation to participate in this briefing. It was a real honor and blessing to be asked to this first offering of this Community Leaders Briefing Series.”
If you are interested in participating in a future briefing (they are holding a number of them this summer) you can find more information at http://www.whitehouse.gov/webform/white-house-community-leaders-briefing-series.
Gold Country Chaplaincy is a faith based 501(c)(3) non-profit corporation, serving veterans, military and their family’s; media through Press4hope; female inmates through “Mail With Wings”; and our community. You can find more about Gold Country Chaplaincy at www.goldcountrychaplaincy.org.