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Aprill Bright wastes no time familiarizing herself with new surroundings.
The Army Chaplain with the 98th Combat Stress Control arrived at Joint Base Lewis-McChord in July and quickly went to work asking questions about the needs of the military and surrounding civilian community.
As soon as my feet hit the ground Im like, what can I do? Bright said. Theres a lot of work to be done and thats the mindset I live in.
Bright also works to connect JBLM with local professional sports teams, including the Seattle Storm. The professional womens basketball team contacted the JBLM Chaplains office to invite someone to speak at the teams annual Faith and Family night.
After the Storm played the Phoenix Mercury Aug. 30, the court in KeyArena was turned into a speaking floor where Bright shared the microphone with the team chaplain and Storm players Camille Little, Alysha Clark and Tanisha Wright.
It was an honor, Bright said. To me it said a lot of things for them to invite a military chaplain, and then they were thanking me and appreciating me for what Im doing. It was reciprocal. It bridged a gap between civilian and military.
Bright spoke to an audience about her journey into the chaplaincy. Her story is unique because before she became a chaplain six years ago, she first was an Army spouse. She was a stay-at-home mom to two young boys who volunteered at the chapel. She had been ordained before her marriage and later decided to join the Army because of her experience as a volunteer.
I talked about the challenges of the Army, Bright said. Ive been a spouse where I didnt understand what my husbands job was and why he was gone so much. Now Im able to comfort spouses and say were in this together.
Brights family, including her two boys and her husband, who is a chaplain candidate in the Army Reserves, were present in the audience and were able to take photos with the players.
The players spoke about staying spiritually fit in a demanding arena. The team chaplain volunteers to conduct pregame chapel for players from both teams for those who choose to attend.
Brights experience that night encouraged her to work to continue the relationship with the Storm. Her unit has partnered with Tillicum Elementary School to connect with civilians and help meet their needs. Each month the 98th CSC visits the school and participates in physical fitness exercises during recess. The unit also delivers items that the children in the school are in need of. This month canned goods were delivered.
Brights hope is to include representatives of the Storm and other people within the community to participate in the outreach program.
Its a passion for me, Bright said. The only reason Im in the Army is because I love Soldiers. I know what its like to be on the other side. I do it with a passion.