RICHMOND, Va. –
Lt. Col. Brett Johnson, the Virginia Army National Guard full-time support chaplain, received the Order of Martin of Tours award from Col. Seung Lee, the VNG state chaplain, as part of his promotion ceremony May 14, 2023, at the Virginia National Guard Sergeant Bob Slaughter Headquarters in Richmond, Virginia. Brig. Gen. K. Weedon Gallagher, the VNG Assistant Adjutant General - Army, presided over the ceremony and administered Johnson the oath of office for his new rank.
According to the office of the Chief of Chaplains, “the Honorable Order of Martin of Tours is awarded to those chaplains and religious affairs specialists who have demonstrated the highest standards of integrity and moral character, displayed an outstanding degree of professional competence, selflessly served soldiers and families, and contributed to the promotion of the Army Chaplaincy.”
Since his direct commission into the Chaplain Corps in 2004, “Chaplain Johnson has performed his duties with utmost dedication, extraordinary achievement and service to the joint service members and family of our multi-component U.S. Armed Forces,” wrote retired Maj. Gen. Timothy P. Williams, then the 28th Adjutant General of Virginia in his recommendation memo for the award. “HIs long-term achievements and service in unit ministry, both in war and peace time environments, epitomizes the exceptions service of a servant leader. His contributions for the daily unit ministry of the Virginia National Guard formations and families is immeasurable.”
In his portion of the recommendation packet, Lee wrote “Chaplain Johnson has achieved long-term, exceptional service to the Army Chaplaincy through contributions to the Virginia Army National Guard and the National Guard Bureau.”
In addition to his service as the VNG’s full-time support chaplain, Johnson has seen a number of varied duty assignments including being a full-time chaplain recruiter at National Guard Bureau from July 2008 through September 2009. At the time, the Army National Guard was critically short of chaplains, but according to Lee, “his love and enthusiasm for this distinct ministry allowed him recruit numerous high-quality chaplains and chaplain candidates.”
Johnson has deployed overseas twice on federal active duty with the Virginia Army National Guard. In 2010, he deployed with the 529th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion to Afghanistan in support of Operation Enduring Freedom where he provided “exemplary religious support to numerous service members in several austere locations,” Lee said.
Johnson deployed again with 529th CSSB in 2015 to Kuwait in support of Operation Inherent Resolve where he provided outstanding religious support to both civilians and service members located in his area of operations.
Johnson was competitively selected to be the Virginia National Guard’s full-time support chaplain in August 2017 and has since conducted numerous military funerals and provided religious support to grieving families, and he has also provided full-time administrative support to the other chaplains throughout the state.
He also provided religious support during the COVID -19 pandemic, planned and coordinated religious support operations for the 2020 Presidential Inauguration security mission. He was also a religious support liaison between Virginia Army National Guard and the active duty and reserve Army and Marine Corps religious support teams mobilized to then-Fort Picket during the Operation Allies Welcome, a humanitarian mission for the 10,000 Afghan refugees temporarily housed at this location.
“Chaplain Johnson continues to demonstrate the highest levels of integrity, moral character, effective commitment to religious support and military professionalism,” Lee said. “His contribution to the Army Chaplain Corps and dedication to establishing innovative solutions for the Corps is irrefutable, and he plays a central role in the religious support provided to the Virginia National Guard.”
~ Photos on Flickr at https://ngpa.us/26124