DLA chaplain offers insight on relationships, suicide, social media

By Shawn J. Jones DLA Troop Support Public Affairs

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The Defense Logistics Agency chaplain told employees at DLA Troop Support in Philadelphia that diversity has helped make him a better person.

“I realize what an amazing country we live in, what amazing times we live in, and how the many different types of people from different walks of life with different cultures and backgrounds than me help make me a better person,” Army Chaplain (Col.) Carleton Birch said.

Birch spoke to the Troop Support workforce Jan. 25 about improving relationships and resiliency at work and at home.

He said that when he was first assigned to DLA, he was tasked with developing the spirituality component of DLA’s resiliency model, which also contains physical, mental and social components.

While exploring the DLA resiliency model, he said he soon learned that diversity played a major role.

“You can’t talk about resiliency and relationships without discussing the idea of diversity,” he said.

Attending many of the diversity-themed events at DLA helped him realize how he’s a better person because of diversity, he said.

The chaplain was introduced by Christina Panichelle, a management analyst with the Command Support Office who oversees DLA Troop Support’s resiliency program.

“So many people feel isolated and disconnected,” she said. “Now, more than ever, there’s a need to connect with our families, our friends, our co-workers and our communities.”

Panichelle said the intention of the chaplain’s visit was to address these connections and how they impact many facets of Troop Support employees’ lives.

Birch addressed the major role that social media has on relationships and that it’s not always apparent whether the impact is positive or negative. He admitted that social media is great for spreading information, but cautioned that it may contribute to spreading hateful ideas.

“The jury is still out on this. And so I would say keep your eyes and ears open to some of the research,” Birch said.

The chaplain also talked about marital communication and awareness, specifically how expectations among couples are often different. He said spouses should become students of one another.

“The key is to figure out the ways that they give and receive love,” he said.

Birch said that he and his spouse have differing views, and that he knows he must adjust his tendencies to ensure effective communication with his spouse.

He also suggested people look into suicide-prevention training because it’s important to recognize when people are in crisis and how to intervene effectively. He said the techniques are just as useful at home as they are at work.

“I know that by statistics, suicide has affected just about everyone in this room, and some of us wish we would’ve known how to intervene when the time came,” he said.