MacDill Air Force Base, Florida - In an effort to expound upon the U.S. Special Operations Command’s priority of advancing international partnerships, four Canadian chaplains attended the SOF Chaplaincy Spiritual and Moral Resiliency course held at the Joint Special Operations University on MacDill Air Force Base, Florida.
The course prepares students in the context of their spiritual and theological worldview within a pluralistic environment, to evaluate the elements of spiritual readiness to create a holistic model of well-being for the SOF warrior. It has a particular focus to mitigate suicidality, PTSD, moral injury and other SOF peculiar stress related conditions encountered by USSOCOM service members and their families.
The Canadian Chaplains that attended the course were Army Capt. Vic Morris, Army Maj. Daniel Gilroy, Navy Lt. Cmdr. Tony Cole, and Army Captain David Gallas. They learned about the American Special Operations resiliency course when their Canadian Special Operations Forces Command Chaplain, Army Lt. Col. Marc Torchinsky and Morris presented at the USSOCOM Moral Injury Symposium last fall. The CANSOF has a similar Preservation of the Force and Family (POTFF) program called Optimizing Performance Force and Family or OPF2.
“One of our spiritual domain goals in OPF2, our version of POTFF, is to produce training deliverables and have our unit chaplains use these in ministry within their unit lines,” said Morris, Spiritual Domain Lead for OPF2. “We will take the material that we have received from this course and build a spiritual resilience deliverable to increase the capacity and capability of our members and their families.”
“We are so excited to be able to share with our amazing partners from the north in some of the cutting edge training that the USSOCOM Command Chaplain's Office has been able to develop through our Preservation of The Force and Family initiative.” said Col. George T. Youstra, USSOCOM command chaplain. “We look forward to making headway on Gen. Clarke’s priority of advancing partnerships in our lane by sharing this training with all our SOF partners as we continue to develop relationships around the globe.”
The course is executed on behalf of the USSOCOM Command Chaplain and prepares SOF chaplains, international partners, religious support team members, as well as POTFF team members to thrive in a joint environment. The course, as well as ethical leadership advisement, crisis care and counseling, and orientation course, are part of advanced SOF holistic and spiritual care.
“The significance of the advanced courses highlight some of the most popular trainings that have been proven to work, when talking about caring for people within SOF, through gap analysis [comparison of actual performance with potential or desired performance],” U.S. Air Force Master Sgt. Joseph Gibbon, USSOCOM religious affairs senior enlisted leader said. “The other services do not have anything like this in their chaplain corps schools and the courses here at JSOU illustrate that taking care of people is a lot more complicated and complex than what it appears to be.”
The Canadians are not the first international partners to attend the Chaplaincy course with Finland sending a chaplain last year.
“POTFF is continually making strides to bridge the gap between USSOCOM, academia, and our international partners,” U.S. Army Master Sgt. Howard Crosby, POTFF Spiritual Domain noncommissioned officer in charge said. “Last year we had our first international partner, a Finnish chaplain, attend our POTFF sponsored Religious Support Team Orientation course. By these relationships we are building partner capacity and advancing holistic care around the globe through our international allies that are facing similar issues among their service members.”
For more information on future chaplaincy courses the JSOU course catalog can be found at
https://www.socom.mil/JSOU/_layouts/15/jsou.public/pages/Courses.aspx under Center for Staff Education.