Chaplain of the Marine Corps attends Chaplain Corps’ training course
Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan -- The room hums with joyful chatter; sincere smiles and handshakes are exchanged among religious leaders of the Navy and Marine Corps, as a tall, gray-haired man enters the room.
“Attention on Deck,” is called as the man with silver stars on his collar responds with a broad smile, beaming with genuine gratitude for the courtesy.
The man with the warm smile and stars is Rear Adm. Brent W. Scott, the 19th chaplain of the Marine Corps and the deputy chief of U.S. Navy chaplains. Scott attended the professional development training course hosted by the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps, May 19 at the Ocean Breeze Club, Camp Foster, Okinawa, Japan.
More than 50 chaplains gathered from locations in the Pacific and U.S. to attend the course.
“(The course) is one of 12 that we will host around the world, and it covers suicide prevention, intervention and postvention,” said Scott, an Amarillo, Texas, native. “It’s a really critical topic for chaplains. We engage the force with the type of issues that strike at the health of the individuals.”
Scott is now one of the top officers over the U.S. Navy Chaplain Corps, which consists of all commissioned naval officers who are ordained to conduct religious services. Their mission is to promote the spiritual, moral and personal well-being of service members.
Scott was a Baptist minister for 11 years before joining the U.S. Navy as a chaplain in 1990. He assumed his current duties as chaplain of the Marine Corps on July 25, 2014..
“What drew me to join the Navy as a chaplain was the opportunity to work with young people at a really critical point of their life where they are making decisions and choices that are life changing,” said Scott. “I wanted to be a part in helping to shape them as people.”
The course put chaplains and religious leaders in scenarios where they had to think of how to comprehend each situation and identify the right course of action, according to U.S. Navy Lt. Yonina E. Creditor, the base chaplain for Marine Corps Air Station Futenma.
Although suicide rates have significantly declined since their peak in 2009, according to Department of Defense reports, one is still too many, which is why it remains a priority concern for the Corps’ top chaplain.
“Chaplains are inextricably involved in the command’s suicide prevention and intervention program,” said Creditor, a Richmond, Va., native. “We are here to help with the transition once the crisis is abated. If someone commits suicide, we will be there to bring comfort to the unit, that is postvention.”
The course is offered to better equip chaplains and religious program specialists with the ability to care for the Marines and sailors under their charge, according to Scott. It refreshes them on how to approach and handle the issue of suicide.
“(Chaplains and religious program specialists) will be given tools this week to learn how to assess the signs of suicide, help (the service member) take control of their life and get the help from the right resources,” said Scott.
Active duty service members and veterans are the focus of military suicide prevention, according to Creditor. The chaplains reviewed the suicide prevention order and discussed new theories on how to help a service member through a difficult situation in their life.
“When someone is at a crossroad in their life, (chaplains) want to feel confident in our skills, ensuring we can help that person,” said Creditor. “At a critical moment, the chaplain needs to have already processed the training so they can use it as a tool right then and there to eradicate the situation and potentially save someone from taking their life.”