Today marks the 243rd birthday of the Army Chaplain Corps.
Since its beginning in 1775, roughly 25,000 Chaplains have lived out their Corps motto “Pro Deo et Patria,” which translates to, “For God and Country.” But what exactly does an Army Chaplain do? They show up to say the invocation for official ceremonies and then call it a day, right? Not even close! To understand the world of Army Chaplaincy we interviewed one of the best out there, Chaplain Warwick Fuller of the 249th Engineer Battalion.
Let’s start with a little dossier on the 249th Engineer Battalion-Prime Power! This battalion is headquartered out of Fort Belvoir but also has line companies stationed in Schofield Barracks-HI, Fort Bragg-NC, and Cranston-RI. How can one Chaplain possibly cover all those Soldiers and Reservists? He travels…a lot! You will find Chaplain Fuller on Oahu leading Marriage Training one week, leading PT at Fort Bragg soon after, and then at little chapel on Ft. Belvoir, where you will NOT hear, “Good, Good, Father” on Father’s Day because he’s more creative than that. Let’s dive into the life of Chaplain Fuller a little more.
What made you join the Army Chaplain Corps?
My journey into the Chaplain Corps was not what I had expected. I had planned on staying in the civilian pastorate all of my life. I had a close friend who encouraged me to look into it after he saw how I worked with families. The more I looked into the Corps, the more I saw God leading me in that direction. My sense of serving those who serve was a part of my calling; joining the Chaplain Corps fulfilled that calling.
What is the most rewarding and most challenging thing about your job?
The most rewarding and most challenging parts of my job are tied together. Walking with service members through the hardest parts of their lives is a large part of what I do. I am honored that they invite me into their lives, to provide that sense of hope and that there is a larger anchor to whom they can tie to. It’s hard because I know they are hurting and so I hurt, too.
Best memory so far in your career?
There is a lot that goes into my job, and every turn of it has a highlight. Some of my favorite memories are when I know I made a difference in the life of a soldier because I was able to talk to their leader and give them a second chance. Not all leaders, or soldiers, understand my job or see the need of Chaplains.
One of the most satisfying memories I have happened after a tragic moment in the life of a soldier. His wife had died unexpectedly, and I was called to talk with him and just to be there. I went and was just there, helping him through the process and just listening. I sat when he sat, helped him with questions, and was just as present as I could be. It was a long night. His leadership was there and saw how present I was. One of his leaders, who was very vocal in his disapproval of my job and who was generally very anti-Chaplains, was also there. The next day, the leader came up to me and apologized, now seeing what benefits Chaplains are to the team and Army. I had helped not just that soldier, but whoever else that leader may serve because he knew I was an ally and a very present help.
Favorite way to unwind at the end of a tough day?
After a long day, I love going home. Seeing my wife and kids is important to me, and the best way I can unwind is knowing they are there to help and support me. I know that no matter how long my day or week is, I have somewhere to call home. And every Sunday morning acts as a “reset” to me. Being in the community I love and care for, and knowing why we gather together, that’s beautiful.
Chaplain Fuller is just one of many selfless servants dedicated to our Army today. Whether leading worship, counseling Service members, and their families, or coordinating morale-building events, our Chaplain Corps strives to serve those who serve. ‘
Happy 243rd Birthday Army Chaplain Corps and here’s to many more!
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PCSgrades Author: Jenah Wieczorek, PCSgrades Community Outreach Director, is an Army spouse, mother of 2 boys, dental hygienist, and volunteer. Jenah is a two-time recipient of the First Cavalry Division Commander’s Award for Volunteer Excellence, the Department of the Army Award for Patriotic Civilian Service, and is a member of the U.S. Cavalry and Armor Association’s Order of St. Joan D’Arc. She enjoys coffee from 9-5, wine from 5-9, leggings as pants, reading and spending time with her boys.