U.S. Army Africa chaplains mentor Namibian counterparts on HIV/AIDS counseling
By Rick Scavetta, U.S. Army Africa
VICENZA, Italy – When it comes to talking with military members and their families about facing terminal illness, the U.S. Army often relies upon the skills and training of its chaplains and enlisted chaplain’s assistants.
Recently, two U.S. Army Africa chaplains took their experience to Namibia, to share ideas with their counterparts within the Namibia Defence Force.
Lt. Col. Clyde Scott, U.S. Army Africa’s deputy command chaplain, and Maj. Allen Staley, plans and operations chaplain, spent a week in Windhoek, Namibia, where they led a seminar geared toward counseling military members and their families on the impact of HIV/AIDS. Twenty Namibians attended, to include five NDF chaplains, 14 NDF chaplain’s assistants and one prison chaplain.
“We covered numerous topics on the effects of dealing with AIDs related suffering and death,” Scott said. “It’s an important topic for chaplains to understand.”
The goal of the conference was to have Namibia’s chaplains discuss their roles in addressing HIV/AIDS awareness and prevention, Scott said.
It was also to have Namibia’s military take a closer look at the stigma caused by HIV/AIDS, ways to reduce discrimination, grief and trauma counseling and the importance of fidelity in marriages among Namibia’s diverse military.
The U.S. Army Africa chaplains provided their Namibian counterparts with materials and tools to use to create their own information events within their units and military communities. Discussions also focused on stress identification and management, post traumatic stress disorder, suicide awareness and spiritual resiliency.
“Namibian military chaplains are interested in strengthening their pastoral skills to deal with HIV/AIDS within their ranks,” Staley said. “They are eager to schedule follow up engagements to continue HIV/AIDS awareness education and find tools to better equip themselves in the fight against the disease.”
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