The year 2020 has definitely been one for the record books as the entire world continues to deal with the effects of a global pandemic.
For single Soldiers in particular, this year has forced them to adapt to one of the most unique challenges in their military careers. Resiliency has rarely been in such high demand.
“It’s been super frustrating,” Spc. Zachery Lind, a human resources specialist with the Military Intelligence Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment said referring to the many ways COVID-19 has impacted his personal and professional life in recent months.
These type of challenging environments are exactly where Unit Ministry Teams step in, assess the needs, and advise commanders on ways to provide innovative solutions to care for Soldiers.
Across the U.S. Army, UMTs are working hard to reduce the pressure created by the global pandemic environment for Soldiers of all faiths, improving the readiness, and overall health of the force.
This summer, the Unit Ministry Teams of the 75th Ranger Regiment did just that with each battalion executing a series of overnight single Ranger retreats, reaching nearly 100 single Rangers from four battalions and the Regimental headquarters.
“Just the chance to get away from the barracks and spend time with friends, to think about what I want my life and legacy to be, is a phenomenal opportunity,” a Ranger from 3rd Battalion, 75th Ranger Regiment said.
Utilizing a commercial vendor specializing in outdoor resilience education, Ranger UMTs led three different series of overnight training events. Abiding by the constraints of COVID-19 was an essential component of planning this trip.
The UMTs partnered with Ranger medical health professionals to mitigate risk, social distancing Rangers, donning masks whenever indoors, and limiting overnight iterations to groups of 15 people or less.
Each trip was a quick but very full 24 hours. Some Rangers went to Thomaston, Georgia, where they set up camp and kayaked a 12-mile stretch of the Flint River. Multiple bald eagle sightings, rock jumping, and a side excursion into a giant cave made for an exciting and memorable time.
Other Rangers traveled to the coast of Georgia, one battalion camping out and paddling down the shoreline to Little Tybee Island and another battalion camping and exploring the Cumberland Island National Seashore on bikes.
Setting up and breaking down camp, cooking and cleaning up from meals, and preparing for the outdoor activities were all group efforts. Integral to the resiliency training curriculum was practicing team work and the need to take responsibility for yourself and your buddies around you.
Throughout each day, Ranger chaplains led discussions on “responsibility, reflection, and refocus,” as components of resilience, equipping the Rangers with tools to grow as men of character, and enhance their mental, emotional, and spiritual fitness.
There’s nothing like good food around a campfire after a long fun day to bring out the stories and struggles that Soldiers are dealing with in their everyday lives.
“I have never been on a trip like this before, but I really liked it. It was fun to jump in and find ways I could help,” Spc. Adam Gathercole said who is assigned to the Regimental Military Intelligence Battalion.
“It was so encouraging to hear these guys go deep, and get real, and just talk about how they are really doing and the struggles they are currently dealing with or have dealt with in their past,” Chaplain (CPT) Bo Waldo, Deputy Regimental Chaplain, 75th Ranger Regiment said upon returning from one of the trips.
“It really is a privilege for me to care for these Rangers. The single Rangers are such a critical component of our force, and they are having to deal with this crazy season of isolation in some very challenging ways. This trip was well worth the effort to put it together,” Waldo added.
The reviews were overwhelming!
“This event has really helped be refocus on what is important in life,” another Ranger from 3rd Battalion said.
“I had such an awesome time. I hope we get to do more of these soon!” Pfc. Xavier Diaz, finance technician, assigned to the Regimental Funds Management section, said.
The Regiment plans to hold additional single Ranger retreats in the future to ensure everyone has an opportunity to attend and benefit from these experiences.