By Whitney Allen
The Chief of the Chaplain Corps visited Fort Knox this week and talked about the many facets of his service in the Army. Chaplain (Major General) Donald Rutherford visited LDAC cadets in the 13th Regiment at the Hand Grenade Assault course and spent time with the chaplains and chaplain candidates at the Religious Education Center on July 24.
He recalled having been in both the chaplain candidates’ and the cadets’ shoes once before. Rutherford was commissioned through the ROTC program at The State University of New York at Albany and completed his basic ROTC training at Fort Knox.
“The faces have changed but it’s still the same motivation,” Rutherford said. Just like the curriculum and training has changed over the years, so has the Army as a whole.
“I look at it and I think how the Army has changed so much but its still great people doing great things,” Rutherford said.
Rutherford discussed the future of the Chaplaincy Corps and issues within the branch with chaplain candidates, assistants, and chaplains. He also reiterated the importance of the chaplain’s role to assess the environment the soldiers are living and working in, and how to address morale issues within a brigade.
Although the Army is downsizing, Rutherford stressed the importance of the Chaplaincy Corps. “We are not going to go away. Commanders think the world of chaplains and chaplain assistants.”
The chaplaincy isn’t getting smaller but they are seeking the best-qualified candidates, Rutherford reiterated. “We are trying to make sure that we have the right people at the right time.”
Rutherford encouraged the chaplains and chaplain hopefuls to utilize their degree and ministry skills.
“Let’s remember what we came in for,” Rutherford said. “You came here to take care of soldiers and their families.”
In the essence of the cadets beginning their Army career, Rutherford reflected on his own beginnings. In 1975, Rutherford was a cadet in what was then called “Basic Camp” at Fort Knox.
Just as these cadets are unsure of exactly what their future may hold Rutherford was once in a similar position, hard work and dedication certainly paid off.
“Who’d ever think I’d be doing what I’m doing now?” Rutherford laughed.
Upon graduating with his bachelor’s degree, Rutherford took an educational delay to attend seminary school. “I came in active duty and expected to do three years. I got here and realized that there were good things to be done.”
There were enough good things to be done to keep Chaplain Rutherford in the Army for thirty years rather than the expected three.
Rutherford said the best thing the cadets can do for themselves is to listen to those teaching and realize the importance of their training. “It’s like my mother always told me, God gave you two ears and one mouth. Listen twice as much as you talk.”