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NEWS | July 5, 2023

Kentucky National Guard Chaplain Provides support at Cybersecurity Training Event

By 1st Sgt. Mireille Merilice, Oklahoma National Guard

Col. William Draper, chaplain with the Kentucky National Guard, provided spiritual guidance and counseling services during the Cyber Shield 2023 training exercise held at the Professional Education Center in Little Rock, Arkansas, 2-16 June.

The demand for cybersecurity experts continues to surge, along with the stress of evolving threats and technology. In recognition for holistic support, Draper has taken a proactive approach to ensure the well-being of its cyber warriors during this year’s event.

“My role is to ensure all service members and DOD officials have the opportunity to practice their faith during the exercise,” Draper said. “If service members would like to see me, it’s a confidential conversation. I can provide various religious services or counseling.”

The cybersecurity training event, which brings together professionals from various branches, agencies and organizations, aims to bolster participants' skills and knowledge in combating cyber threats. The inclusion of religious support services within the event signifies a broader recognition of the multidimensional challenges faced by cybersecurity personnel.

“I’ve supported Cyber Shield since 2014,” Draper added. “The biggest challenge of the event [for service members] is being away from home. It's not the mission, they’ll do great and be successful, but it's the things at home that will challenge them the most."

Draper's role extended beyond conducting religious services; he maintained an active presence throughout the exercise and focused on ensuring that attendees focused stress management and resilience-building techniques.

“Stress impacts everyone, regardless of faith or no faith,” Draper said. “I will ask how a person is doing to help them identify how they are dealing with stress.”

The integration of religious support services into the cybersecurity training event sets a positive precedent for organizations and agencies nationwide. It underscores the importance of holistic support systems in high-stress professions and acknowledges the significant role that spirituality can play in enhancing mental health and overall job satisfaction.

“As a chaplain, if I can be there to provide some comfort or some peace that is part of what I will do,” Draper said.

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