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Why troops need to be 'spiritually and mentally fit'

"When you're spiritually and emotionally fit, you'll take care of yourself because you love yourself," said Master Sgt. David Mundy, 35th Infantry Division chaplain assistant.


While sitting on a bench outside the main chapel at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Mundy made it clear that being spiritual is not necessarily the same as being religious, but that spiritual fitness has the ability to bring a peacefulness to anyone.

"Being spiritually, mentally, and emotionally fit will help lead to physical fitness and, ultimately, it all works toward the overall stability, fitness, and readiness of the individual Soldier," said Mundy.

Chaplain Emil Kapaun celebrates a Catholic Mass for cavalry soldiers during the Korean War (Photo U.S. Army)

To build spiritual fitness, Mundy had a few key pieces of advice for Soldiers that he finds helpful whether at home or in a deployed environment.

"As an individual, accept pain for what it is — don't keep it in," Mundy said. "Once accepted, become transparent and work through the pain and analyze the situation that brought you to that point."

This, in Mundy's experience, helps an individual clarify the problem and work toward a healthy resolution.

In order to successfully work to resolve life's problems and maintain our mental fitness, Mundy explained that there are four types of people we need to surround ourselves with.

"The first type are prophets — everyone needs a person who can hold their feet to the fire and make them own up to their mistakes," said Mundy. "The next type of person is the cheerleader — we need to be surrounded by friends who can cheer us on regardless of the situation in which we find ourselves."

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"Teasers are the friends who won't let us beat ourselves up and also make sure to show us a good time," said Mundy. "Finally, we need encouragers. Encouragers help you find the good in your life and expand on that."

After a Soldier establishes these friendships and recognizes the different types of people in their lives, Mundy suggests getting into a workout routine with someone who will help drive them.

"Once you find those people, work out with someone in better shape than yourself in order to push yourself to be better," Mundy continued. "Everyone needs friends who are like-minded, who can encourage yet challenge."

Like any military installation, there are plenty of avenues to work on physical fitness at Camp Arifjan. Options for workouts include anything from volleyball, basketball, swimming, and weightlifting to 5Ks, marathons, flag football, and soccer.

Master Sgt. David Mundy, 35th Infantry Division chaplain assistant (left), and friends play Christmas carols for the Christmas program at Camp Arifjan, Kuwait, Dec. 25, 2017. (U.S. Army photo by Capt. Margaret Ziffer)

The key is maintaining a routine. Attaining spiritual fitness, according to Mundy, is no different.

"There are chapels and a mosque on Camp Arifjan if a person is looking for religious support," said Mundy. "It's all about finding and making the time to participate."

If Soldiers are not necessarily religious in their beliefs, Mundy also encourages meeting with behavioral health support specialists to help lift or ease burdens.

"Both chaplains and behavioral health support will help you on your way to establishing spiritual and emotional fitness," said Mundy. "There is no one-size-fits-all approach to Soldier stability, but Soldiers should be aware that they have all the resources available to them to stay strong."