PARWAN PROVINCE, Afghanistan – “When people come to the chapel, I show them a happy face,” said Spc. Turquoise Dawson. “The first thing they see is a smile that says, ‘Let’s get church started with some fellowship and love. You came to the right place!’”
The bubbly property book office clerk for 10th Combat Aviation Brigade / Task Force Falcon serves as an usher every Sunday for the Baptist services held at Enduring Faith Chapel on Bagram Airfield.
“I started duties as an usher in January. I always enjoy the services, but when I first got here (in October), it looked like they had too many ushers,” Dawson said. “But, then people moved on, and so I thought, why not do a good thing while I’m here?”
Dawson’s desire to serve in a spiritual role during her deployment speaks not just to her faith, but also to a larger approach to her well-being. As the Army launches the Comprehensive Soldier Fitness program, decisions like Dawson’s illustrate 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.
According to the CSF home page, the program develops the "whole person" and gives the same emphasis to emotional strength given to physical strength. This holistic approach focuses on enabling Soldiers, Family Members and Army civilians to better manage various physical and psychological challenges in their personal and professional lives along five specific dimensions of strength.
“CSF strengthens Soldiers, civilians and Families by making the most of five dimensions of strength through assessment and education. These are Physical, Emotional, Social, Spiritual and Family,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Bill Scritchfield, who serves as 10th Combat Aviation Brigade / TF Falcon chaplain.
Scritchfield said he 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."
Dawson’s “good thing” not only strengthens her own spiritual fitness, the smile she offers every Sunday plays a small role in strengthening the shared beliefs of those who join her each week.
“It does make me feel better to see her there smiling,” said Sgt. Derek Sherrill, a paralegal noncommissioned officer with TF Falcon. “You can tell she is genuinely happy. It gets things going in the right direction.”
As for Dawson, she says the fellowship not only allows her to aid in the spirit worshipping, it also brings her some peace.
“It’s a good refresher for the start of the week. I show thanks for getting through the week and gain strength to get through the next one,” she said.