The Army’s Values to Virtue Gap: A Spiritual Challenge

  • Colonel Clyde Arthur Lynn III

The Army is experiencing and increasingly observable “values to virtue” gap. This gap is most evident through the high profile breaches of moral conduct reported in the media. The Army established its seven values, coupled with other programs such as Comprehensive Soldier and Family Fitness (CSF2), to serve as the base for moral development of Army professionals. The CSF2 program states that values reside in the spiritual dimension and psychology informs us that humans have a need to believe in the supernatural. Indeed, more than eighty-four percent of Americans embrace some form of religion. Values are normally transformed into virtue through religious instruction and experience. However, many recent Army and Department of Defense policies and actions have limited the religious liberty of soldiers, undermining the effort to close the values to virtue gap. The Army can emphasize the spiritual dimension by exposing its soldiers to various religious and secular resources without endorsing and religion (or non-religion) over any other and without violating the constitutional rights of its soldiers. Failure to do so will result in the continued widening of the gap and further disconnect the force from the public it serves.