GROTON, Conn. – Chaplains, local clergy and leaders of the community gathered at Cross Hall Galley onboard Naval Submarine Base (SUBASE) New London for the local version of the National Prayer Breakfast, Feb. 6.
The local prayer breakfast was modeled after the National Prayer Breakfast, which began in the U.S. Senate and House of Representatives in 1942.
This year’s prayer breakfast served as a chance for religious leaders from different bases, military branches and churches to meet and featured guest speakers who spoke on the topic of resilience.
“Resilience is a very real issue for us right now,” said Cmdr. Jamie Stall-Ryan, chaplain, SUBASE New London. “It’s an important issue because I think we struggle with this a bit in our younger ranks.”
Stall-Ryan said he believes some people have a hard time looking past their own struggles and staying engaged in their current task.
“If something bad happens, you got to keep fighting and keep pushing, because that’s what we do in the military,” said Stall-Ryan. “Everything we do is tied to a mission, and that mission is to go do the nation’s bidding and bring everyone home safely. Resilience plays a huge role in that.”
At the end of his speech Stall-Ryan said he prays we find new ways to embed resilience into our young people, and find ways to encourage them in the midst of hard times.
Next Stall-Ryan introduced both Steve DeFilippo, licensed clinical social worker and Lt. Phillip Dang, licensed clinical psychologist from the Embedded Mental Health (EMH) Program located at Naval Submarine Support Center (NSSC) New London, to give their words on resilience.
Dang started off by saying before talking about resilience we must first understand what resilience means.
“Dictionary.com says that resilience is the capacity to recover quickly from difficulties; build toughness,” said Dang. “Merriam Webster Dictionary says that resilience is an ability to recover from or adjust easily to misfortune or change. Resilience, something that we want to build because we are dealing with unexpected challenges as we go through life, but those challenges are not as unexpected as we may think they are based on the way that society has developed over the last 40 or 50 years.”
DeFilippo then asked the crowd where resilience comes from to which they responded by saying inner strength, faith, hardships and past experiences.
“Resilience is from any challenges that you have experienced,” said DeFilippo. “They could be physical. They could be emotional. They could be spiritual. They could also be mental. To develop resilience you had to have faced adversity. Resilience doesn’t come from an easy path.”
Next Dang broke down the reason he believes the younger generation might lack resilience through psychology.
“Part of the reason that we are seeing this shift as far as resilience is that we are seeing the product of the change in the way that we view resilience,” said Dang. “Back in the late 70’s and early 80’s pop psychology put forth the idea that to build healthy individuals in society we needed to build their self-esteem. We needed to build their self-confidence. So what does that really mean? It means they can’t fail. They can’t face hardships. They can’t believe that they might not be as good as their parents told them.”
Dang said he believes that the younger generations have a hard time in handling hardships and adversity, because society has gone too far in trying to make everyone feel like they are a winner.
“That’s where we see the participation trophies, everybody gets a ribbon, so on and so forth,” said Dang. “And what happens? We’re not building grit.”
All of the guest speakers agreed that in some way our younger generation, even our Sailors lack resilience. They agree that as a community they need to find a way to bring back that resilience so that across all branches we can stay focused on our mission through hardships.
Lt. James Holiday, chaplain, SUBASE New London Chaplain Center, closed the breakfast with a benediction.
“As a united body, as a community in unity with one mind knowing that we have one another, let this just be a symbol of how we can be connected to one another, and how we can hold each other up in our weaknesses. Today you may be the strength that someone else needs to have that resilience and that grit to continue on,” said Holiday.
The annual local National Prayer Breakfast allowed community leaders to gather to discuss what they believe they need to do for a brighter future with our young people leading the way.