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April 14, 2003

ULM Graduate Student Makes Impact in Middle East

Kelly Barnett, a former doctoral student at the University of Louisiana at Monroe, has been assigned to chaplain of his military unit.

Barnett is a licensed professional counselor and marriage and family therapist. Before moving to Monroe he was pastor of St. Joseph Baptist Church in St. Joseph, LA. Barnett, and his wife of 21 years, Coletti, are Monroe residents and have two children, Katelyn (15) and Kyle (9). Both are excellent pupils at the Ouachita Christian School.

A reservist for 27 years and chaplain for 13 of those years, Barnett has served with the 528th Battalion for 7 years. However, when the 527th Engineer Battalion from Ruston was selected to deploy in support of Operation Enduring Freedom in Afghanistan, Barnett was sent along to serve with the 500 soldiers. Barnett states that "Being away from my family is the toughest part of this mission. It is a sacrifice soldiers and their families make for the greater good of the people of Afghanistan and America."

The position, as military chaplain, is to provide for the religious needs of soldiers and their families including their spiritual, ethical, and moral health. Barnett, explains, "I also advise the commander on the culture, customs, and religious needs of the local population within the area of operations and provide for the proper respect for indigenous religions and the safeguarding of sacred places of the local people."

Barnett's success in the classroom at ULM and in the Monroe community, as director of the Granberry Counseling Center, a ministry of the Louisiana Baptist Children's home, has given him the necessary credentials and experience to allow him to be an immediate impact and asset to our country. "As a result of Kelly's academic preparation and clinical training in marriage and family therapy, he is in a unique position to be in invaluable assistance and support," said Dr. Lamar Woodham, Director of the ULM Marriage and Family Therapy program. "Kelly is an exceptional clinician and his training will allow him to perform his duties with expert capabilities," Woodham said.

On July 29, 1775, the Continental Congress officially established the Chaplain Corps as an integral part of the U.S Army. The Army Chaplaincy, in providing religious services and ministries to the command, is an instrument of the U.S. Government to ensure that soldier's religious "free exercise" rights are protected.

As a Chaplain, Barnett is a noncombatant and does not bear arms. A Chaplain's assistant is assigned the responsibility of providing necessary protection for the Chaplain. SPC Jamie Bonner of Monroe, a current ULM undergraduate, is Barnett's assistant.

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