"We're that light in the darkness, that calm in the storm," said Maj. Michel Dion, a battle group padre stationed at Kandahar Air Field, where Canadians and troops from other coalition countries are based as part of the mission to rid the Taliban.
There are currently five chaplains providing faith and religion-based services to Canadians on this base that is home to more than 10,000 military personnel. The services are primarily intended for Canadians, but multinational outreach is offered as well.
"Our primary mission is to support the mission here by providing spiritual, religious and ethical support for members," said Dion, a permanent Roman Catholic deacon who has been stationed here for four months. "We provide a ministry of presence." (Photo at left shows Deacon Michel Dion in uniform on the right)
Regular visits to military units, prayer seminars, including religious support for the wounded, sick and dead are available to the troops here, and many take up the offer.
"Our services are utilized quite a lot, in actuality, as Canadians have become more and more involved (in the mission)," Dion said. "It's challenging to have to interpret what's going on out there. And situations can be very traumatic for some. We work with helping members cope and get through traumatic events. We're a voice for those who feel voiceless."
Dion, who has served in the military for 20 years — 10 in his current capacity — is one of a select few here who don't carry a weapon.
"Being able to walk around Afghanistan without a weapon, that's what everyone here is trying to accomplish," he said.