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NEWS | Nov. 28, 2017

Virginia National Guard appoints full-time support chaplain

By Staff Sgt. Elizabeth Szoke | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

The Virginia National Guard recently appointed Army Chaplain (Maj.) Brett Johnson as the state’s full-time support chaplain to provide religious support services to help ensure the spiritual well-being of Soldiers, Airmen, families and civilians. While he is stationed at Fort Pickett, Johnson is able to coordinate religious support for individuals all over the state.

Johnson has been a member of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps since 2004 and feels blessed to continue his career as the state’s full-time support chaplain.

“It truly is an honor and blessing to be assigned here and I look forward to working with those who are in need of chaplain support services,” Johnson said.

Chaplains provide confidential counsel and as such, are bound by the Uniform Code of Military Justice. They also interface with the Sexual Harassment and Assault Response Program as well as Equal Opportunity-related issues to guarantee individuals’ confidentiality.

“When they come for confidential counseling, we don’t preach to them,” Johnson said. “We seek to understand and walk them through the issues they are facing.”

“If someone needs to speak with a chaplain confidentially and has a different belief or doesn’t have any specific religious belief at all, my door is always open to them. After all, everyone carries burdens at some point in life, known or unknown to others.” Johnson states that he is available for support 24/7, but he encourages Soldiers to seek guidance from their assigned unit chaplains first.

Johnson also provides hospital visit and military funeral honors coverage and several other religious support services. For anyone who is in crisis, he is able to provide immediate assistance and will help find psychological health support as quickly as possible.

“Again, individuals who don’t want religious support are still welcome to visit or call,” said Johnson, “But if they are seeking it, I am a Christian chaplain. So everything I do in the way of religious guidance is based on my Christian beliefs.”

“Our job as chaplains is to “Bring Soldiers to God and God to Soldiers” in our daily interaction with those that we minister to,” Johnson said. “The type of religion shouldn’t be a wall stopping someone from seeing us.”

Johnson encourages those who have never spoken to a chaplain before to give it a try. Since he has become a chaplain, it has been his goal to provide the support Soldiers need at home and abroad.

“I was sworn in and commissioned two weeks before I turned 40, so I came into this game a lot later in life.” Johnson said, “We had two wars going on at once and there was a need. I asked the Lord how I could help and he opened the door for me to become a military chaplain.”

Johnson has been deployed twice and says he would do it all again in a heartbeat.

“It’s been an honor and privilege to serve with everyone over these years and be there for those in their time of need,” he said. “It’s been one wild ride, but a most rewarding one nonetheless.”

Becoming a chaplain has been so fulfilling that he encourages those with the desire to help others to consider filling one of the eight vacant slots in the state of Virginia. Even if a Soldier is not yet commissioned, Johnson says the right education path could lead to someone becoming a member of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps and serve in the Virginia Army National Guard.

Johnson replaced Chaplain (Col.) J.D. Moore who served as the full-time support chaplain since 2005 and continues to serve in a traditional Guard status as the state chaplain.

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