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NEWS | Jan. 23, 2023

Lee named new VNG state chaplain

By A.J. Coyne | Virginia National Guard Public Affairs

Lt. Col. Seung Lee, who most recently served as the command chaplain for the 134th Chaplain Support Team, is the new Virginia National Guard state chaplain. Lee succeeds Col. Benjamin Sprouse.  

In his civilian career, Lee works for the Department of Defense and as a traditional, M-Day Soldier, Lee has found he can sympathize with many of the issues other traditional M-Day Soldiers face. In addition, as a Soldier he can identify with them in many ways traditional pastors can’t.  

“When I first came in the military, I was of envious of full-time active-duty chaplains,” Lee said. “However, I soon realized that the bi-vocational nature of my calling had many benefits. I realized that Soldiers have particular problems, and I found I was able to relate to them more than a traditional pastor or full-time chaplain because I faced similar problems in my civilian workplace. This is something that full-time ministers have difficulty relating to.” 

Although many people focus on overseas deployments and the additional roles that National Guard chaplains play is unique. Lee cited the National Guard response to Washington, D.C. in January 2001 as an example of the important role National Guard chaplains play in domestic missions.  

“There were all these personnel there and Title 10 chaplains couldn’t support them,” he said. “But National Guard chaplains could and Virginia chaplains did an excellent job ministering to Soldiers and civilians and first responders. That’s the beauty of the Guard.” 

As he takes the reins as the state chaplain, Lee looks ahead to how he wants to focus his position.  

“I really want to focus on our true calling- supporting Soldiers and family members,” he said.  

One way to increase that support is through partnerships, and one priority for Lee is to continue to build the relationship with chaplains from the Virginia Defense Force.  

“I’m trying to get the VDF more involved in ministry at Fort Pickett during annual training to utilize their talents,” Lee said. “They’re an untapped resource for the Guard.” 

Whether it’s serving full-time or part-time, Soldiers, Airmen, VDF or family members, the diversity of the military is something that drew Lee to serve and continues to appeal to him.  

“That’s the reason I love serving, he said. “To minister to the diversity of the Virginia Guard.” 

Lee received a direct commission as a chaplain candidate in the United States Army Reserve before transferring into the Virginia Army National Guard. He is a graduate of the Chaplain Officer Basic, the Chaplain Captain’s Career Course, the Command and General Staff Course, the Chaplain Functional Area Course, and Airborne School. 

Lee’s previous military assignments include serving as a battalion chaplain for 3rd Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade and 1st Battalion, 116th Infantry Brigade. While assigned to the 1-116th, Lee mobilized in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom in 2010.  

Lee’s field grade assignments include serving as the group chaplain for the 329th Regional Support Group; Division Chaplain (acting) for the 29th Infantry Division; and the 91st Cyber Brigade chaplain. As the command chaplain for the 134th Chaplain Support Team, Lee was again mobilized in support of Operation Enduring Freedom (Spartan Shield). During this deployment, Lee also served as U.S. Army Central’s operations chaplain.  

Lee holds a Bachelor of Science Degree in Public Administration, a Master of Education and a Master of Arts in Religion. He is ordained as a Minister of Word and Sacrament in the Presbyterian Church in America.  

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