Atheists in the US Army continue to criticize the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program and its Global Assessment Tool. One portion of it is intended to help Soldiers assess their spiritual fitness — to which some atheists have objected, both in letter and principle. Much like their opposition to anything “bigger” or “higher” than themselves, the atheists’ objection to the principle of spiritual fitness has caused them to see offense even in non-“religious” questions, like whether or not their lives have purpose.
Capt. Ryan Jean wanted to perform well on the Army’s psychological evaluation for soldiers. But he also wanted to answer the questions honestly. So when he was asked whether he believed his life had a lasting purpose, Jean, an atheist, saw no choice but to say no.
Apparently military atheists claim no lasting purpose in their lives. Honestly.
Unfortunately, the article conflates two separate questions with which Read more
US Army BrigGen Rhonda Cornum is the director of the Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program. She also embodies the values of her own program:
The CSF program focuses on the ability to bounce back from stress or trauma, something she utilized after her experience in the Gulf War…
Cornum flew over the Iraqi desert with her crew in a Black Hawk helicopter Feb. 27, during the fourth day of the U.S. ground assault…
Her crew was responding to the downing of F-16 pilot Capt Bill Andrews, who was shot down over Iraq. Their helicopter took fire before getting there and crashed. Five of her crewmates were killed; she was wounded and taken Read more
ABC News recently did a short segment on the US Army’s Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, or, more accurately, the spiritual fitness portion of it.
They interviewed Brigadier General Rhonda Cornum, a PhD, MD, Desert Storm POW, and current Director of Comprehensive Soldier Fitness in the Army.
They also interviewed US Army Sgt Dustin Chalker, an atheist Soldier whom Michael Weinstein used to sue the US Army. (The lawsuit was dismissed.)
While military atheists have generally taken issue with the entire concept of “spiritual fitness,” the following portion of the interview was highlighted by Justin Griffith on his atheist “Rock Beyond Belief” website:
Sciutto (ABC News): Why is it that spiritual people make better soldiers?
Cornum: The ethos that we adhere to. Always place the mission first. Never accept defeat. Never leave a fallen comrade. Those kinds of things require you to have belief in something higher than yourself.
To be accurate, the US Army did not say Read more
The Center for Atheist Research is apparently conducting a study on spirituality in the military in response to the US Army’s (criticized) Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program.
The study is being used to research “the validity” of the CSF “spiritual fitness” attributes, and it appears to do so in some part by using the same questions that appeared in the military’s asssessment.
The design of the test is interesting. For example, some atheists complained about the military’s agree/disagree question about “My life has lasting meaning,” and the survey repeats that question. Later, it asks a variety of related questions which seem to be trying to determine (in a less direct way) if the person really does feel Read more
Continuing the US Army’s focus on Comprehensive Soldier Fitness, Fort Carson is closing one of its gyms to “transform” it into the “Forrest Resiliency Center.” The center will be
the cornerstone of a Mountain Post Resiliency Campus that includes a super gym, a behavioral health facility and a child development center.
While the news release focuses largely on the “super gym” and health issues associated with deploying, the Resiliency Campus will include “spiritual” Read more
Chaplain (Maj) Bill Scritchfield, currently serving in Afghanistan, has an interesting perspective on the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, reaching all the way back to General Marshall:
Scritchfield…believes Gen. George Marshall explained the significance of Soldier spirituality best, “The Soldier’s heart, the Soldier’s spirit, the Soldier’s soul are everything. Unless the Soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied on and will fail himself and his country in the end.”
The context of the article is US Army SPC Turquoise Dawson, who volunteers as an usher at Bagram’s chapel services. Her conscious decision to usher with a happy heart
illustrate[s] some of the behaviors and strategies that help one adapt and cope with challenges – behaviors and strategies Army officials hope to pass on to other soldiers.
Critics continue to imply an impending lawsuit over some portions of the Army’s CSF program.
An Army release notes efforts by the US Army training leadership to support the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness campaign through its Battle Command Training Program, an “exportable” training center.
The Army’s Comprehensive Fitness Program is designed to bring together several agencies, key organizational members and initiatives to address the “Five Dimensions of Strength” which sustain the U.S. Army Soldier: Physical, Emotional, Social, Family and Spiritual.
The BCTP is a team that travels to Army bases to bring specialized training to them. CSF is a whole-person fitness concept designed to alleviate the Army’s prior Read more
In early February the US Army’s Global Assessment Tool was taken by its millionth Soldier. Presumably that includes the total force, as the Army has approximately 1.1 million Soldiers total, including Guard and Reserve.
As noted in the Army article,
This effort began in 2008 under the leadership of Brig. Gen. Rhonda L. Cornum…The CSF program is not medical or psychological treatment…
The GAT is a 105-question survey that assesses a Soldier in emotional, social, spiritual and family fitness. The GAT is not a pass or fail test, Read more