Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., commander of III Corps and Fort Hood, and others look on as retired chaplain Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Carver speaks during the Fort Hood National Prayer Breakfast Wednesday at Fort Hood’s Club Hood.

Fort Hood’s annual National Prayer Breakfast discusses attitudes

By Colleen Flaherty

Killeen Daily Herald

FORT HOOD — Retired Maj. Gen. Douglas L. Carver, former Army chief of chaplains, extolled the virtues of gratitude during Fort Hood’s National Prayer Breakfast on Wednesday.

“What you’re hearing now are the sounds of gratitude,” he said, breaking through the happy din he incited by asking hundreds of attendees to share something they were grateful for with their table mates. “It’s a sound that keeps Fort Hood and our Army strong.”

The annual breakfast, with a theme this year of “choosing gratitude,” is an offshoot of the National Day of Prayer on May 3. Hundreds attended the event at Club Hood.

There’s increasing evidence that gratitude helps improve psychological, spiritual and physical health, Carver said, adding that it can help the Army heal after a decade of war.

“This war of 10, 11 years — as (do) all wars — has tenderized our hearts,” he said. “As I look around the Army, I know what it does to you. I’ve seen it from a strategic view.”

Carver said one of the hardest parts of his last job was hearing about Army suicides, including three chaplains and seven chaplains’ assistants during his tenure. Of all the reasons soldiers killed themselves, he called social isolation in a high-tech age the most “haunting,” because the problem hasn’t been solved.

“You may have 300 friends on Facebook, but who do you call at 2 or 3 (a.m.)? Who is your lifeline?” he asked. “Be grateful for those people in your life.”

On a keyboard, Carver played and sang “Amazing Grace” and said it was the song he sang following the Nov. 5, 2009, shootings at Fort Hood.

“Let this song remind you, you have a choice today — and it is a choice — to be grateful or ungrateful,” he said. “Gratitude is the ability to recognize good things going on in your life and going on around you.”

Event organizer Capt. Moshe Lans, chaplain for III Corps’ Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, said he culled the event’s theme from his counseling sessions.

People come to Lans with a litany of problems, he said, but often feel better after focusing on basic things they’re grateful for, such as waking up in the morning.

It’s the small things that can “click,” he said.

Lt. Gen. Donald M. Campbell Jr., III Corps and Fort Hood commander, said even though those present — including spouses and community leaders — came from diverse backgrounds, the breakfast provided an opportunity to come together over shared values, including the Army values of loyalty and personal courage.

Campbell said he hand-picked Carver, whom he knew from a previous assignment in his career, to speak at Fort Hood. He called the retiree a “wonderful chaplain, a wonderful minister and wonderful man.”