Fr Gomez reminds soldiers: This is not just a job

The content originally appeared on: Trinidad and Tobago Newsday

Anglican priest Fr Ashton Gomez is challenging members of the regiment and other protective services to look beyond personal gain and commit themselves to duty while being a good role model to society.

Gomez spoke at the regiment’s end-of year church parade at the Holy Trinity Cathedral, Port of Spain, on Thursday, reminding soldiers that in addition to protecting citizens, they also had a duty to be good examples.

He said as the world continues to face confusion and disorder, examples of strength and discipline were needed now more than ever.

He added that as the year draws to a close, it was important that soldiers and their colleagues in other agencies reflect on the lessons learnt and challenges faced to be better people next year.

He also said lapses in discipline were not taken lightly, upon as society often expects more from those in authority.

“God is coming to shine a light that is in a dark place. It is not so much different from the task that the members of the regiment have, because you must penetrate into society to be a reflection of what we can be, a citizenry that is disciplined and ordered – not one that is corrupted, not one that is seeking after its own interests, but rather to serve others.

“There are some who see this as a job and there are those who see this as a career.

“And I want you to think of that as someone who puts on their uniform or shines their boots and make sure everything is in alignment: does it line up with you as a person, or is it the only thing ever in alignment is the uniform, but everything else is crooked?”

Gomez also advised soldiers to look beyond their own personal ambition and emulate the core values of their organisation, which at times require them to put others before themselves.

He said while he understands the need for soldiers to strive for senior rank and titles, such achievements would be meaningless if they were not respected by their subordinates.

“Having a rank and no one respecting you – so what’s the value of the rank? The pay increase? That’s what you’re striving for?

“What about those that can command the force better than you without the rank? Have you thought about that?

“There are voices that people listen to and they don’t have stripes, or medals – they don’t have anything, but they are true to themselves and they command other people because of that. So while you may be able to shout a command and people may do something, understand, they may not respect you at all, and one day even that may come to an end.”

In his address, acting commanding officer of the regiment Lt Col Ashook Singh said he appreciated Gomez’s candour and also encouraged soldiers to stay true to the regiment’s principles of service before self.

He added that in their duties soldiers had a responsibility to remain combat-ready and this included protecting themselves against the coronavirus by getting vaccinated.

He said he has seen first-hand the benefits of the vaccine and encouraged all soldiers to do their part in controlling the spread of the virus.

“I had the pleasure to oversee some promotions recently. Warrant Officer Class One Guppy contracted the covid virus and is alive today to enjoy his much-deserved promotion, as he was fully vaccinated.

“Warrant officer Class Two Edwards has not yet been promoted, as he was recovering from the covid19 virus. He will be promoted today to Warrant Officer Class One, having fully recovered, as he was also fully vaccinated.

“There are countless others who I know have survived this virus because they have been vaccinated.”

Using the analogy of wartime tactics used against invaders, Singh said the vaccines were society’s best chance against further infections.

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