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Online training provides valuable collaborative experience for VNG chaplains

  • Published
  • By A.J. Coyne
  • Virginia National Guard Public Affairs
Religious support personnel from all components of the Virginia National Guard participated in a virtual training event June 5, 2021, designed to not only provide required training but also to increase communication and improve collaboration between the services.

“It was a really good mix of Army, Air and Virginia Defense Force, as well as active duty,” said Capt. Will Cochrane, chaplain for the Virginia Beach-based 329th Regional Support Group. “There was a great joint aspect with different elements represented. It was unique to be with them and collaborate. I honestly don’t remember a time when we’ve done that before. Everyone had a piece of the training.”

The event included presentations from Lt. Col. Matthew Incorvaia, the Virginia Air Guard chaplain, and Maj. (Va.) Joseph Capps, the VDF chaplain, on their structure and capabilities. Lt. Col. Seung Lee, assigned to the Virginia Army National Guard's 134th Chaplain Support Team, provided a word of spiritual encouragement and a unit ministry team with the 188th Infantry Brigade discussed their role assisting with training for National Guard units.

In addition to presentations from Col. Ben Sprouse, the VNG Joint Force Headquarters state chaplain, and Maj. Brett Johnson, the VNG JFHQ full-time support chaplain, a chaplain from First Army discussed religious accommodations and religious liberty training.

“Perhaps the best part of the training was that we were able to network with each other and develop relationships,” said Capps. “We are here to not only take care of our own Soldiers, but also to help our brothers and sisters in the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard in whatever capacity we can.”

In addition to the chaplains, enlisted religious support personnel also participated. So too did several chaplain candidates.

“Collaboration is key for ministry or religious support,” Cochrane said. “We approach religious support as a team event.”

“No one person can do it all,” he explained. “It’s not just chaplains performing these missions. It’s our enlisted personnel as well. They’re vital to performing our mission.”

While this event was conducted online, participants are looking forward to participating in another event, this time in person, which can provide even more possibilities.

“The VDF chaplain corps considers it a great honor and privilege to serve our commonwealth alongside the Virginia Army National Guard and Virginia Air National Guard,” Capps said. “We look forward to more opportunities to train, learn and fellowship with each other.”