Spiritual Readiness: Essentials for Military Leaders and Chaplains
Although plenty of emphasis has been placed on military readiness (munitions platforms and technology), there has been much less attention paid to the readiness of military personnel themselves –called “warrior readiness.” In addition, there is an aspect of warrior readiness that has been almost completely ignored in the training of military personnel, and that is “Spiritual Readiness.” Spiritual readiness (SR) is the strength of spirit that enables the warfighter to accomplish the mission with honor. Maintaining SR is essential for members of the U.S. Armed Forces and their allies in order to keep the peace and, when necessary, win wars. This is of particular concern since SR influences all other aspects of warrior readiness – psychological, social, behavioral, and physical. Intended for military leaders, military chaplains, and VA chaplains, this book reviews concerns about warrior readiness based on recent events in various branches of the U.S. military. These concerns are underscored by widespread reports of mental health problems and lack of psychological, social, and behavioral fitness. The book provides several definitions of SR that are relevant for military settings, and then discusses how to measure it. Measurement is important to establish an SR baseline and then track changes in SR over time in response to combat operations that may diminish it and examine the benefits of interventions intended to build and sustain it. Non-religious sources of SR are then examined, along with religious sources. Next, the book discusses what religious traditions have to offer, including those from Eastern, Indic, and Abrahamic faiths. This is followed by examination of the concept of “human flourishing,” as recently discussed in the Proceedings of the National Academy of Sciences, emphasizing states of well-being and happiness, mental and physical health, having meaning and purpose, demonstrating character and virtue, having close social relationships, and achieving financial stability). Human flourishing is then examined in relationship to warrior readiness, illustrating how human flourishing characterizes the warrior who is ready to accomplish missions at their highest level. Next, the book examines the relationship between SR and warrior readiness, providing a theoretical causal model that illustrates how SR influences warrior readiness through direct and indirect effects on human flourishing. Systematic quantitative research is then reviewed that explores how religious involvement affects both (a) the pathways that lead to human flourishing and (b) human flourishing itself. The question of who is responsible for building and sustaining SR in the military is then addressed (government decision-makers, military leaders, behavioral health specialists, medical providers, and especially, military chaplains), followed by a series of chaplain interventions designed to prevent or treat emotional problems that diminish SR. Finally, the importance of fighting in a just war, fighting for the right reason, and fighting with honor is emphasized in order to reduce the moral injuries that might otherwise diminish SR. The book concludes with a series of practical recommendations for military leaders that will enable them to ensure that those under their command are spiritually ready when the time comes. And that time will surely come – the time when they will need to fight with their souls, their spirits, and everything that is within them in order to defend our freedoms and restore the goodness that the enemy will seek to destroy.