During these visits, she connects with the soldiers, often letting personnel know she’s in camp by serving meals. “Everyone, of course, eats…and you get a feel for what the morale is, if they’ve had a rough day, if they’ve had a good day.” She offers a worship service during the visit and talks with anyone who has a specific family concern or who has expressed a need to talk with a chaplain.
The main task for any chaplain serving in Afghanistan, says Bateman, is to “be present”—as soldiers leave for patrol, in the back of a vehicle on a road move, in the flying kitchen, at the card game, officiating at a ramp ceremony or at Sunday service.
“Sometimes there are conversations, sometimes questions, sometimes jokes, sometimes silence,” she explains. “I find comfort in the soldiers’ abilities, in their persistent work ethic, in their camaraderie, in their willingness to share. I am comforted by their faith. I am comforted by the words of scripture and the emails of support from friends.” —LAW Ω