Sunday, April 19, 2009

CIMT ... not for the faint of heart

So, for quite some time now, I've wanted and needed to post about my experience at Ft. Jackson. I have a total of 13 weeks of training which must be completed. It can be done all at once or broken up into parts. This past January, I went for the first 4 weeks of my Army training. This first part was called CIMT which stands for Chaplains' Initial Military Training. In other words ... it was basic training. As you can imagine, it was stretching in every way.

Here is a snapshot of the month:

Day 1 - We arrived at the school and met the staff, cadre, and 83 other classmates we would travel with on this journey. We would remain in our civilian clothes (or "civies") for another 3 or 4 days.

We went through DAYS of "in-processing" which included medical & dental exams, equipment issuance, and mucho mucho paperwork.

We began to learn drill & ceremony (which includes marching). And of course we began to learn all we could ever want to know about PT (physical training).

Next, we began our "Warrior Task Training" which included such things as land navigation (including compass work & radio communication), biochemical warfare protection, and first aid.

But the learning curve is quick so you better pay attention and jump in fast. We learned how to start IVs on each other in the morning and had to do it that afternoon. Welcome to the Army!

One of the most memorable (and miserable) moments of the month was the day we went into the gas chamber. The day before we learned all about the masks and the next day we got to put that knowledge to the test. There is no mistaking which of these pictures are in the classroom and which are the real deal!

Oh, but the fun was just beginning! We also had Victory Tower. This is the day I like to call "Face Your Fears" Day! It may not look like much, but it was a challenge to be sure. Here's a video one of my classmates put together from the day:

And the day that felt MOST like I imagined the Army was the day all the Warrior Task Training came to a head and real life scenarios were acted out. I realized just how grueling everything can be when you are wearing full "battle rattle" which includes a 25 pound individual body armor vest. Yeah, I slept well that night for sure!

In addition to all of this very physically demanding training, there was a great deal of classroom work which was mentally demanding. We also began training for chaplain-specific duties such as conducting a 20 minute field service. This is a religious service which happens whenever and wherever one can find while a unit is deployed. There are often more semi-permanent locations available, but field services take place when the unit is away from the base but still in need of spiritual encouragement. Here are a few pics from those:

But all of the hard work paid off when we had our official "Beret Donning Ceremony" the last day of CIMT. Wearing the Army beret is a privilege that has to be earned. Prior to our completion of CIMT, we were always in our patrol caps. But on Friday, January 30th, we were given the right to proudly wear our country's beret. Here are a couple pics from the ceremony. Click on the pictures to see them better. The first is us still in patrol caps, the second in berets:

There is so much more to tell, but just not enough blog space in the world to tell it all. I hope this has helped you better understand my time away and thank you one and all for your prayers for me while I was there. I am going back for Phase 1 and Phase 2 in October and November, then will complete Phase 3 and graduate next spring. Continued prayers are definitely coveted for that as well.

So, as I close out this very long post, I will leave you with 2 pictures. One of my platoon ... a group of people that will always hold a special place in my heart. And one of the whole class. I'm so glad I could go on this journey with you!

1 comment:

  1. Hi Mere! We all (plus the kids) just read everything and watched the video and such. We are so proud of you. You are just adorable preaching that field service with that smile we all know and love. Our prayers go with you!