Called to Service

By: Nick Adam Email
By: Nick Adam Email

The men and women who work for the Mississippi National Guard have seen their share of deployments over the last several years, maybe more than their share. And it's hard to get through those deployments without some help.

Deployment comes with all sorts of challenges. One that may not get the most attention is the spiritual needs that airmen face. But military chaplains are standing in the gap.

"Most of the men in my family have been in the military, and I grew up with great admiration for the military," said Lt. Col. David Allen."And so I see it as an opportunity to serve my country and my God."

"I served 16 years in the security forces and I got to a point in my life going to church and having my business, I decided I wanted to do something different, just to do more service in the military. Not that I wasn't serving in security, but my involvement in church, that drew me to the chaplain's office," said MSGT James Conner.

"When I joined the chaplains staff, I realized it's a purpose and a calling that I feel close to my heart> And when I went on deployment, it really struck home," said SGT Johannes Cilliers. "All the extra benefits were second."

Allen served with Air Force Mortuary Affairs, located at Dover Air Force Base. It's a place where family comes to receive loved ones lost in battle.

"I consider it an honor to be able to care for those who come back who will never see their sons born or their parents again, or their wives," said Allen.

And Allen says he has no question about the valor of this generation's military, men and women he has seen and dealt with up close for so many years

"I've seen the sacrifice of young men and women that have given their lives and it aggravates me to have them think that these young people now would not serve their country, because I've seen it," Allen said.

Here's a look at the breakdown of military chaplains from a faith standpoint. About 35 percent come from mainline Christian denominations. About a third come from evangelic denominations. Another eight percent are Catholic. The rest, about a quarter, come from other faith traditions, Christian and otherwise.

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