Veterans Win Post-War Battles

VA Chaplain Engages in Ultimate Combat

By Chaplain Gary Cowden with Andy Meverden

Gary Cowden is the Chief Chaplain at the Puget Sound VA Medical Center in Seattle, Washington. In addition to his supervisory duties, he focuses on some of those experiencing the greatest battles; PTSD, moral injury, and spiritual oppression.  In his recent ministry report he described two of his greatest blessings: one with a young Vet, one from the Vietnam Era.

  • “Helping a young Vet achieve deliverance from demonic oppression; facilitating groups on PTSD and moral injury that has resulted in some real spiritual growth.”

Did you catch that simple reference to extreme spiritual warfare? Some things can’t be described in detail, and Gary is not one to sensationalize. He does battle, assesses the progress, and gets back onto the battlefield. Some battles wage long and hard, like below.

  • “One of my Veteran patients involved in PTSD work lost his struggle with cancer and went home to be with the Lord suddenly a couple of weeks ago. He had come to me with deep anger and PTSD symptoms; a Vietnam Marine who returned with all the classic symptoms. He felt that God could never forgive him or be near him. Over the months, we worked together. He began attending our chapel services every Sunday and grew in his knowledge of the grace and mercy of God. Initially thinking he was unredeemable, he developed a loving trust in the Savior, and finally came to forgive himself. The last year of his life was a peaceful one spiritually, even as his body was being destroyed by cancer. He was a lovely man, and will be deeply missed. I look forward to the day we will be united as eternal friends in Glory.”

Chaplain Cowden, like many of our CBAmerica chaplains, do battle daily for the souls of men and women who serve or have served in our nation’s Armed Forces. Some wounds, like lost limbs and telltale scars, are obviously traumatic; others are invisible.  The horrors of war often produce injuries to the mind, soul, and spirit. These are equally traumatic.  The providers of healing of moral and spiritual injury must be skilled pastoral counselors who can treat matters of the heart, soul, and spirit.

Thank you to those who pray for our chaplains. This report is testament to God hearing and answering your prayers for spiritual wisdom, courage, and power.  It reminds us that “He who is in you is greater than he who is in the world.” (1 John 4:4 NKJV)

For more stories of God working in and through CBAmerica chaplains, go to

From Tiny Houses to Tiny Chapels!

By Andy Meverden with input from Chaplain Scott Noyes, North Dakota Army National Guard

On a recent trip visiting CBAmerica chaplains in Texas and Oklahoma, I passed a Modular Home Dealer with the sign: “Tiny Houses!” The tiny house movement, a social trend of downsize living space in America, has hit the modern battlefield! Troops deployed to Iraq, Afghanistan, and elsewhere know. Not only are troops housed in Containerized Housing Units, better known as “CHUs,” one National Guard Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB) Unit in Afghanistan is applying the trend to provide tiny chapels to remote outposts and forward operating bases (FOB).

Chaplain Scott Noyes, deployed with the North Dakota Army National Guard 136th CSSB sent me a storyboard depicting the use of containerized or “Tiny Chapels.” In it he describes the “mission” of the Tiny Chapels; “To provide a place for religious services and a sacred space for all service members, Afghan Nationals, and DoD civilians in order to accommodate for the free exercise of religion.” During Battlefield Circulation (BFC) around Afghanistan, Chaplain Noyes often used available rooms to hold religious activities and counsel Soldiers and quickly recognized the need for sacred space.

Once established and furnished with religious materials, there was an immediate response by FOB residents who began using these containers and rooms for Bible studies, prayer meetings, and simply the use for silent prayer and reflection.

The primary role of a military chaplain is to “ensure the free exercise of religion” among military members and, by necessity, civilian support personnel accompanying the troops. Chaplains “provide or provide for” the religious needs of all in their assigned unit and area of operation. That includes people of a religion other than that of the assigned chaplain. The term used is “pluralism,” which is the recognition and accommodation of other faith groups in the same operational and living space.

From my reading of history, the concept of “religious tolerance” began in Colonial America when “dissenters,” like Baptists, Congregationalists, Presbyterians, and other non-state religious “sects,” appealed for recognition and respect from the Church of England in the New World. That toleration spread to the acceptance of Jewish colonists, Roman Catholics, and others. It was reflected in George Washington’s Continental Army where all chaplains were Protestants…except one Roman Catholic priest from Canada! Since then, US military chapels have accommodated Protestants, Catholics, Jews, and other emerging religions.   These “tiny chapels,” provide that communal “sacred space” in Afghanistan, and elsewhere. It’s an example that needs to be seen.

Given the large, dispersed area of operation, Chaplain Noyes and his assistant SSG Rick Bryant, circulate among troops in remote locations like FOB Arena, where they have tiny chapels that they keep stocked with Bibles, devotionals, DVDs and other appropriate religious materials. These tiny chapels, provide a quiet, shrapnel-resistant place during the day or night, where troops can come for reflection and prayer. And, when the chaplain visits, they gather for counseling, worship and prayer.

In one of the outlying FOBs, Dahlke, the chapel (below) is in the Mayor’s cell* building, indicating the value of religion in daily life.

Pray for Chaplain Noyes and Staff Sergeant Bryant, as they minister to the troops in their area of operation. Pray for safe travel, good health, hearts open to the leading of God’s Spirit, and opportunities to show the love and Good News of Jesus Christ in a dangerous place. Pray also, for their families back home, for spouses missing their deployed service members, and for kids acting out, in large part due to the absence of their deployed parent. Above all, pray for positive communication and healthy and wholesome return, reunion, and reintegration from deployment.

And, pray for “big things” to happen in these “tiny chapels!”

*The Mayor’s Cell deals with infrastructure and support services like handling trash, tracking the population on the FOB, and employing local workers. In addition, various types of work orders are processed through this office, including the work order to construct the chapel depicted above.


For more interesting stories of ministry by CBAmerica chaplains, go to For information on what it takes to become a chaplain, contact Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy, at

New Chapel Atlantic Resolve Center (Powidz, Poland)

As reported by Chaplain Andrew Calvert & Specialist Malcolm Williams, USArmy

As the “Atlantic Resolve” mission becomes more robust in Eastern Europe, and units are standing up new headquarters in collaboration with NATO Allies, the US Army Chaplain Corps, as a representative of The Holy, meets Soldiers where they are.

The 18th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion recently established a new logistics headquarters in Powidz, Poland.  In anticipation of this need, Chaplain Andrew Calvert and Specialist Malcolm Williams created a sacred space for the Soldiers living there now, and for those of the 497th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion scheduled to take over the mission in mid-Spring 2017.  The space is called Grace Point ChapelWhere God and People Come together.

Chapels are places where Soldiers can worship and volunteer.  This creates a sense of connectedness that is greater and deeper than their unit normally could provide.   Spiritual Fitness and a relationship to The Holy is essential for the well-being and development of the whole Soldier concept.  This space and needed resources were coordinated through a Polish Air Force liaison to “perform and/or provide” full spectrum Religious Support to all personnel both US and foreign.

WHO: CH (CPT) Andrew Calvert and SPC Malcolm Williams (18th CSSB)

WHAT: Setting up an enduring Chapel at Powidz, POL

WHEN/WHERE: Jan-Feb 2017


Chaplain Andy writes, “I was excited to read in Chaplain Calvert’s report, the establishing of this the Army’s newest dedicated chapel facility in Poland, so I asked him to send photos.  He saw the need, and with the eyes of faith, and a diplomatic boldness, he recommended to his command team the transformation of a suitable space into a chapel facility.   Approval was granted, and through a cooperative effort, Grace Point ChapelWhere God and People Come together, came into being.

Pray for this facility to always be available for God-honoring activities, and that it will become a “spiritual home” for all visiting personnel. Join me in celebrating this historic event in USArmy chaplain history!


For more stories about God’s work in and through CBAmerica’s 185+ chaplains, go to    If interested in pursuing chaplaincy ministry, contact  Andy Meverden, Director of Chaplaincy at

Divine Interruptions & Medical History

Tony is an active duty Army Master Sergeant who works in my building at the Regional Health Command here in San Antonio. It is a miracle that Tony is alive today.

A couple of months ago as he was in the process of trying to get some medical care to address some chronic pain he had been having as his body began to unexplainably shut down. He was taken to the ER and as soon as the doctors noticed that his legs were turning blue they immediately admitted him and he was almost as quickly in surgery and then in the intensive care unit fighting for his life.

I got the call from my Command Sergeant Major on a Tuesday around noon, I was in the middle of a book study with a couple other chaplains covering the topic of “The Upside of Stress” and the call was short and to the point, “You need to get to the hospital now Chaplain, they are saying he is not going to make it….”

When I got to the ICU, I went straight to his bedside and met Tony’s wife, Lutz, and she told me how bad it was, no kidney function – he was on continuous dialysis, no blood flow to either legs – if he somehow survived both legs would have to be amputated up to the pelvis and would he need kidney transplants. He had tubes everywhere and it appeared that all they were doing was keeping him alive with very little hope of recovery. They told Lutz to gather her children and prepare to say goodbye to Tony.

When all seems so hopeless, the only thing we can do is pray. And so I prayed with Lutz and her friend. When the children came, I gathered them all in the waiting room and we prayed together.  The staff allowed us to all gather around Tony’s bed, and holding hands, we prayed. I showed them where the chapel was and we went down there, on our knees and we prayed.

We prayed for Tony. We prayed for the Doctors and Nurses. We prayed for Grace and Mercy and Healing. The problem was that Tony’s circulatory system was unique, it took this event to discover that, so to try something bold and new they created a bypass system, an artificial vena cava, a large vein for blood flow from the heart to the lower body – it was a new medical procedure that had not been tried before – medical history was made as prayers were answered!

Over the next couple weeks Tony endured more surgeries that allowed blood flow to the legs – they began to heal and then somehow his kidneys began to heal to the point of total removal from dialysis – another miracle. Tony continued to heal, and in the end they decided to amputate one portion of Tony’s leg – below the knee and he is doing better today than ever. He is attacking his rehabilitation with fierce determination and looks forward to his new prosthetic and walking.

Through it all he is telling everyone he knows about this gracious healing touch from his loving Heavenly Father – and he has given me permission to share this story of grace and healing with you.

CH (COL) Randy Brandt


For more stories reporting the fruit of CBAmerica chaplain ministries, go to

Care Package Support for Deployed Chaplains

Ministry Update from Chaplain Scott Noyes, Afghanistan, to Andy Meverden, Director

Hello Chaplain Meverden,

We are mostly settled in, but still trying to get a rhythm in our UMT Ministry here. We have been in Afghanistan now for 2 full months.  Lots of change continues to happen in our unit.  Our mission is nothing as we expected.  Rather than being in a Combat Sustainment Support Battalion (CSSB) mission role – our Soldiers from North Dakota have been spread out all over Afghanistan.

My Unit Ministry Team (UMT) travel has more than doubled and we have yet to get to half of the Forward Operating Bases (FOBs) to provide chaplain support ministry.

I am grateful that my chaplain assistant and I have a good relationship and are unified in our efforts. I am also grateful that our Brigade chaplain team is supportive and proactive in their efforts.  Many great Unit Ministry Teams here.  Our prayer is that all efforts are not for “business,” but being about “God’s business.”

Thank you for praying for us and our families back home.

Our greatest prayer need here is that unit sections unify – too much pride getting in the way.

Regarding our current needs – we have recently taken a survey and inventory of our “Free-X” (care package inventory) and come up with the following needed items:

  • tooth brush cases
  • men’s disposable razors
  • men’s 2 in 1 shower gel
  • pillow case
  • 4-cup coffee-maker (caution on size)
  • coffee
  • rice crispy treats (various flavors)
  • jerky
  • gum
  • dark chocolate

Mail Care Packages to: (Recommend use of USPS Medium or Large Flat Rate Box – $13.60 with completed PS Form 2976)  

Chaplain’s Office
Noyes, Scott, E.
TF Wagonmaster
APO, AE 09354

Thank you & God bless,

Chaplain Noyes


Director’s Note:  Here’s an opportunity for a church, youth, men’s, women’s, or Veteran’s group to make a difference and assist one of our forward-deployed chaplains.  With recent force reductions, the supply system has been greatly reduced in terms of non-military “comfort” items.  By sending care packages directly to chaplains, you ensure safe arrival to a known individual, and provide our chaplains with “resources” that will bring useful items from “home” to those literally on the front lines.  Be sure to tell the postal clerk this is a military “Care Package” to receive a $1 discount on postage!   Include a signed card with sender’s address info (& email) so recipients can reply.

For more stories of CBAmerica chaplains on the front lines of ministry at home and abroad, go to

Ground Truth: Retired Military Chaplain in Thick of Battle

By Chaplain Bob Hicks, USAF, “Retired”

Ukraine, December 2016


Several organizations in Ukraine are working to provide care for their Veterans who are engaged in what they call ATO – Anti-Terrorism Operation; which means they see the Russian involvement in Crimea and Eastern Ukraine as Terrorism. These organizations are also trying to provide training in PTSD (Post traumatic stress disorder), and battle (moral) injury, to chaplains; and ministry to widows and orphans of war.

So, as Associate Staff of CRU’s military International ministry this is my second trip over in cooperation with other American organizations. My first two days were basically lectures at a Kievan University speaking to mental Health providers, military chaplains, and other Ukrainian military personnel.

Days three and four were spent doing seminars at two different military bases, and a civic presentation hosted by the Mayor of a city outside Kiev. I did three separate sessions: one for all military, one for all female military, one for clergy including some Orthodox priests, with chaplains.  That night I met with widows of soldiers killed. The last day, I did two separate meetings with widows, some having lost their husbands at the front the week before.

Since the Maidan Square revolution gaining their freedom from Russian political domination in 2013, they have had over 6,000 military deaths.  This means there are around 5,000 widows and fatherless children left behind.  Of course, Putin’s answer to their Freedom was taking Crimea and the Eastern slice of Ukraine, done by what Putin calls, “Ukrainian rebels”.

I find the Ukrainians spiritually very open to the gospel but still in many ways bound to their Soviet era humanism, mixed with the only religion they know, the Orthodox Church. But this war has broken down all the barriers, and traditional thinking. I must say, it is the union of Baptist Churches that are providing much of the training and expertise in raising up an all-volunteer military chaplain force.  It is such a privilege to be asked and able to go provide training for chaplains and minister the comfort and reality of the living Christ.

Here are a few photos from my time. I am with Chaplain Visili, (above) who just lost his friend in the war and officiated his recent funeral.  We are at the burial site together. The photo of me speaking with a young woman in pink (right) was a lady who three days before had her husband’s funeral. This occurred at the last widows meeting. My interpreter is Chaplain Visili’s wife.



Andy Meverden, director of chaplaincy writes:

Join Chaplain Hicks in praying for the people of Ukraine as they struggle against Russian encroachment and occupation.

War, in whatever form it occurs, leaves devastation, hurt, and pain. Some of this damage is visible and physical, much is invisible, internal, and spiritual.   Godly, trained, Christian Ukrainian chaplains are needed to address and facilitate healing of the spiritual wounds of this ongoing war.

I thank God for wise, Veteran chaplains, like Bob Hicks, who are still willing to enter hazardous duty zones to share with our allies the message of hope and healing through Jesus Christ. Pray for their health, safety, and effectiveness as they run to the sounds of the guns to help heal the invisible wounds of war.

For more stories of bold and courageous ministry by CBAmerica chaplains go to .

Air Guard Chaplain Sees God’s Hand in the Desert

By Chaplain Ian Howarth


My first deployment in 2016 was a great year with many surprises, and some times of having to move forward in faith. During the summer of 2015 I was able to be the full-time Air National Guard chaplain in Idaho. My leadership kept me full-time until I left to UAE in April 2016. I moved my family from Eastern Oregon to Boise Idaho. This meant a new school for my kids (Jonathon, who was a freshman and Elly, who was in 8th). And my wife (Allyson) was finishing her clinical rotation as a nurse practitioner student.

April was bittersweet. My wife had just graduated with her Master’s Degree and was days away from testing for her nurse practitioner license. I left to UAE on 9 April. During my transient stop in Al Udeid Air Base I found out she passed her exam! By May I had settled into a good battle rhythm at my deployed location. I was blessed to be able to handpick a chaplain assistant from home station to go with and he was a blessing and a friend for me throughout the entire deployment.

I was part of a 3 chaplain team (Wing chaplain, a priest, and me).  The Wing chaplain took the Gospel service and I had the two Protestant services every Sunday. This was a stretch for me as I hadn’t preached weekly for a couple of years. I was told going into the deployment not to worry about Bible study tools and sermon prep books because the chapel would have lots of resources. I found one little bookshelf with a couple of books. There happened to be one commentary on the Book of John, the book I felt God was telling me to preach through. He provides!

I had awesome worship leaders to rotate through the 2 services and the chapel ministry averaged around 40-50 per service. The ministry opportunity which consumed most of my time was counseling. I averaged nearly 70 people a month for six months. I became good friends with the psychologist; he was a believer and huge support during the deployment. During the first week of June my wife received a vacate notice from our rental company. This started out as a huge burden but became a blessing.

My wife had also received a job offer in Oregon at the same time. So the rental company let us out of the lease early and prorated the month of June and she and the kids packed up the house and moved back to Oregon. After a few months of not finding housing, a house opened up for us. The best part was the owner wanted us to live in it rent free throughout the winter. What a blessing! I had a home to come back to after deployment. And my kids were able to attend high school with their friends they had grown up with in Baker City.

During the deployment I kept preaching the Gospel but I wasn’t really seeing the fruit in terms of salvation or re-dedications. But the Lord was still active in the desert. I had 3 people at different times come to me in a counseling session sharing they had received the Lord. The most memorable was an airman who was going through an awful custody battle with an ex and nothing seemed to be going right. The home problems became work place problems on the base. He was hating the deployment. While at the smoke pit, he remembered something about giving his life to God. So he prayed a simple prayer telling God to take control of his life.

The airman came to me to find out what to do next. We started by praying for his life and that God would put people in his path to walk with him. I got him a Bible and told him to start reading John and connected him with a Bible study. God did a total transformation right there in the desert. Not only did the airman’s life change, but his work environment improved. The supervisor he had trouble with previously, noticed the change and affirmed him and his work in front of leadership. The problems with the ex and the custody battle resolved literally overnight. He bought a house while deployed and was able to show the ex he was going to take care of their child. He also was given the opportunity to share his testimony in a non-chapel venue during the deployment. It was an awesome experience and a great reminder God is always at work even when it seems life is at its driest times.

Signs of God’s Work in the Desert:

As a result of 48 Chapel Services and 8 small groups and hundreds of counseling sessions, Chaplain Howarth recorded:

  • 50 Crisis Interventions
  • 10 First-time decisions for Christ
  • 10 Rededications
  • 5 Baptisms


Pray for Chaplain Howarth as he discerns God’s direction for the future.

For more stories of chaplains endorsed by CBAmerica, go to

Retired from State Service… Not the Master’s Service

By Chaplain Bill Brown, Retired

California State Department of Corrections



My season as a chaplain in the state prison has come to an end.

My wife and I turn 70 this year, and we recognize that we are not the spring chickens we used to be, and I can no longer maintain the pace of ministry in the prison. I have prayed for a number of years for God to send a godly man to be my successor in this ministry, and I believe He has answered wonderfully, and even given me the opportunity to train him while he has been a volunteer for last four years. Recently he completed his seminary education, was ordained, and has submitted his application for the position. I had the privilege of introducing him to my supervisor and the warden as the man I believe God has called to fill the vacancy created by my retirement. With continuing prayer and by the grace of God, I trust he will be the successful candidate.

As with many successful ministries, there are unsung heroes, and I have been blessed with many hundreds of volunteers to provide hundreds of services and programs each month. As one wise person said, “The chaplain administers so that others can minister.” And, I am grateful to God for blessing His ministry in the prison with so many committed and gifted co-laborers.

But for me, my greatest partner in ministry has been and continues to be my wife, Mary. She is a constant support in innumerable ways. Most significantly she prays for me, the volunteers and the inmates. And, as a volunteer in the chapel program, she has provided classes and counseling, where the Spirit has used her mightily.

So, in our retirement years I want to invest time and energy to be a blessing to her, travel to the places she wants to go, and spend quality time with family. Of course, there is a long list of home projects that need attention before we can travel a lot. But, we also realize that it is important to do the travel while our health is good enough to enjoy it.

Retirement from state service does not mean retirement from the Master’s service. I intend to continue some ministry in the prison as a volunteer, and I am ready to respond as the Spirit directs.  And, if God permits, I hope to  resume a ministry in Uganda, and I am praying that God will allow me to do that in the fall this year.

I am forever grateful to God for the CBA, and the endorsement that made possible this ministry for the last 14 years. The fruit of these years is fruit that remains. In fact, we have daily reports of the ministry of many former inmates, including lifers, who are bearing much fruit, ministering to their family and friends, growing in their faith, and sustaining a ministry to their communities. They have repented of their evil ways, and have, by the grace of God, become a blessing to many. The problem of crime in our communities is not a legal problem, it is a moral problem; it is a sin problem. And, Jesus condemned sin at the cross, and gave us His Holy Spirit, who transforms the vilest sinner into salt and light, and uses them to transform their worlds, both in prison and in our communities.

(I am standing in the second to the back row on the left wearing a coat and tie.)

May God bless you richly, keep you safe and in good health, and make you a rich blessing to many, everywhere you go, in everything you do, with everyone you meet!

Bill Brown

Protestant Chaplain, Retired


Join in wishing Chaplain Bill and Mary Brown “God speed” in this next phase of life, ministry, and travels. You can do so by leaving a message in the Comment section following this post.

If interested in learning more about endorsement for prison ministry, Local, State, or Federal, contact Andy Meverden, CBAmerica’s Director of Chaplaincy at



December 25, 2016

A Chaplain’s Christmas Story

By Chaplain Greg Uvila, USMC

So greetings from the land of two camels!   Yep, I saw two of these beasts lope by my office door recently, just a few hundred yards away.  I could only see their bobbing heads and their tell-tale bumps because the protective berm was partially blocking my view.  Probably the only two camels in the Middle East!

The Gulf War was just yesterday, wasn’t it?   25 years later I find myself in the same region as Operation Desert Shield and Operation Desert Storm, where coalition forces, under General Norman Schwarzkopf, liberated Kuwait* from the occupying Iraqi army, led by someone named Saddam Hussein.   Every day I jog by war-torn airplane hangars riddled with massive holes; decades old reminders of bombs our air forces dropped in the successful effort to push out the invading Iraqis. To say it is very surreal around here is understated.  Who would have known then I would be here now?

On that same dusty trail, I jog inside this air base in the middle east, triple strand barb wire surrounds our perimeter, guard shacks dot the landscape; so peaceful here, the small structures on stilts look more like a cub-scout paradise than buildings to ensure our security.   As safe as we are, every day in intel briefs we are given reminders of the alarming presence of ISIS in nearby Iraq.  My home for the next 8 months is run by the Air Force in cooperation with the local government.  We are here in support of Operation Inherent Resolve.   (Hear the attached CBS radio report by Kami McCormick).

Today, December 23rd, I returned to the same running trail with the nearby bombed out hangers.  I did my pull-ups, sit-ups, and ammo can lifts like a good wanna-be Marine.  As I finished the lifts I looked to the east and was startled by an image that I had seen before.  However, it was in a different locale, but the same war on terror- Afghanistan 2010.  This similar surprise was at Camp Leatherneck.  I saw one of my heroes, a Marine I did not know, an amputee, still serving on active duty- why not?  However, today this was not an unknown Marine; this was a fellow officer I have known since July!  I had no idea of his injury.  Before my run, I sauntered over, “Major, what happened to your leg?”  (I was 95% sure of what happened but I wanted to leverage my curiosity to sincerely thank him for his very personal sacrifice on behalf of our nation).   “I lost it in an ice skating accident doing a triple salchow.”  “Max, what?” “No, Chaps I lost it in Afghanistan in 2011 during a fire fight.”  “Wow, I never knew.”  “That’s good.  I wouldn’t want it any other way.”  I paused, hesitated, and gathered my composure, “Major, thank you, thank you for your sacrifice.”  As I started to jog away, I yearned to say more, so I slowed, and spoke over my shoulder, “Max, that comes from a deep part of me.”  “I know Chaps, thanks.”  Wow, no more frustration over a water heater that doesn’t work in my hooch.  Such is my privilege to serve among nobility!  To quote my brother-in-law drawing from his Viet Nam War experience, “I walk among Heroes.”  Let me back up and add some color to my journey before arriving…


Over Veterans Day I was able to travel to St. Louis and see the medical school that Gregor attends.   The journey was full of simple, sacred events.  Then I had 10 days back home prior to deploying.   Thankfully, the bulk of the time was spent with family, playing Catan with the gang, Candyland with Ashton, basketball, tennis…  Speaking of getting stuffed, we had an early Thanksgiving and even earlier Christmas dinner (luau) with everyone.  It was too much fun and time flew by way too quickly.

After the house emptied, Nancy and I worked on last minute honey dos- Tank and she will be moving down to 29 Palms, California when I return from deployment next August, after Gregor and Britney’s wedding.   Nancy and I made some special memories when I was home… enjoying the hearth our friendship has become.


We departed for the Middle East on the 75th anniversary of D-day, the day that still lives in infamy, the day when Pearl Harbor was crushed by the Imperial army of Japan.  Today another army crushes us emotionally, the loss of life is less, but the emotional toll at the capricious hands of terrorist is so incredibly disheartening.  So to go to the Middle East “to protect those who cannot protect themselves” seems to be just.   I pray for peace in the Middle East every day.”

Surprisingly, JBLM, (Joint Base Lewis-McCord) was our first stop.  As we touched down I noticed it was one of those glorious Northwest winter days, crisp, clear, blue sky, a chilly 37 degrees.   Nancy told me the forecast was for snow, but the weatherman was being sneaky, only a few clouds dotted the clear, dark blue sky.

The 3-hour layover at Lewis-McCord strains at my soul. I muse to myself why couldn’t we just head straight east?  My emotions are running amuck.   My heart aches as I embrace the glory of Mount Rainier.  I wish I could stay here.  Our JAG (lawyer) leans across the aisle, knowing I ski and that I am from this region, “Hey Chaps, you ever ski Crystal?”  I casually respond that I had, recalling the wide open spaces “the fam” had skied not too long ago.

After leaving JBLM we had a short flight to Germany, Frankfurt I believe, only 11-12 hours in the sky- easy day, hah! Anyway, we spent about 3 hours on ground for fuel and food and off we soared to the Middle East.  We arrive at our destination about 3:30am, 28 hours after gathering in the parking lot of the Marine Corps base, 29 Palms, CA.


The saying of goodbyes for service members, their dependents, for family and friends is one of the hardest challenges of military service.   The cost is clear when you walk through it or observe it.  Many of you know this first hand… Chaplain McCarthy instructed me over thirty years ago that when one says goodbye a little piece of him or her dies.  This lancing of the soul hurts- hurts bad, real bad.  For some reason I have dreaded this deployment more than the others.  Perhaps because I have a better sense of what lies ahead?  Trudging through the sands of Afghanistan in 2010, will there be similar moments this deployment?

There are hidden tolls to these long deployments. It is such an upstream push to know that you are not going to see loved ones for a loooong time.  Emotions brace for shock.   Yet, precious moments are the rich rewards of the knowledge of painful goodbyes and upcoming deployments.  Time crucibles, intensifies, makes precious the moments and memories before departing, minutes count, hours more, a single day is almost as sacred as a Mariners game with my three sons, by the way the guys and I did just that back in the spring, yes!!

Saying goodbye to my sons is a forever imprint. For one it was watching the blue sedan pull out of our driveway and head north up Cascade Circle. For another it was next to the warmth of a wood stove in a small cabin in the woods.  And for the other it was SeaTac, Terminal D, as he waited for me at my gate (working for Alaska has privileges).   Hugs from Ashton, Hadley, Melanie, Britney and Sydney…my heart is full.  And then there was Tank…loyal to the end, I miss my buddy.  But I am thankful that he is there to keep Nancy company in my absence.

Saying goodbye to Nancy who has stood by me through 35 crazy-great-awesome sauce years was insufferably crushing. The memory of her tender eyes as we embraced on the side of the road marked “departures” at SEATAC simultaneously haunts me and woos me; the haunt, the dark shadows that lurked too close, 9 months  away from my bride; and the woo, the precious brown eyes speak for themselves…

Being Chaps…

Ministry in the present takes courage… As the Boeing 747 whisked us away from Puget Sound it tilted its wings to say good bye to the glorious snowcapped Cascades and majestic Mount Rainier under the light of a full moon.  I looked to my left and my long-time friend of all of 20 minutes was bent over, hands in his face. Clearly something was amiss.   I took a guess, he must be afraid of flying.   I gently placed my hand on my fellow traveler. In doing so I honor something deep within me, but I must admit in doing so I was conflicted.  Will he understand my motive?  As I heard the plane’s wheels seat themselves in the belly of jet, I removed my hand from the soldier’s shoulder, and I reflected on how simple ministry can be if we are present in the present, oh presence you waskily wabbit!.

I soon discovered that his name was Jeremy and he was younger, much younger. He was in fact Kramer’s age.   He was Army, I’m Navy.  Doubts returned. What is he thinking?  I fuss to myself.   Does he even know I am a Chaplain?  More fussing to myself, such pointless musing, and nonsense!

An hour or so into our flight Jeremy, turns toward me and softly says, “thank you.” Without immediate context or clarification, nothing more was needed to be said.  Content, I settled back into my chair and remembered once again how much I love my family, my friends, and the great Northwest!  God is good… good all the time!

Ministry here is about presence, listening, watching, observing and hopefully asking a good question once in a while.   A few God moments to pass along… encouraged a young officer who is struggling with his wife who is in therapy for abuse; sat with a Marine struggling with a boyfriend who is suicidal; met several times with a Junior Chaplain- helping him with his annual performance review; meeting twice a week with a Marine officer who is mandated to attend AA meetings for a year- AA doesn’t exist here so I am the next best thing?; friendships beginning to bloom with junior and senior officers in the wardroom; mentoring a young Marine who is an Oak Harbor high school grad (Class of 2015), mentoring two junior chaplains in different locations.   I am once again preaching on a regular basis and am really enjoying it, commitments have already been made and faith is forming in the lives of our young Marines.   I was stoked to see several senior officers at the service on Christmas day!

As I wrap up my first update, Christmas 2016 is behind me. A solid 48 hours of hustle and bustle, not through shopping malls, nor up and down I-5; but preparing and performing worship services on the flight line and at the chapel; visiting Marines all over the base…playing Elf as my assistant, Brad Smith of Reno Nevada took the role as Santa.  RP1 used his green sea bag in lieu of the classic white bag.   We hand delivered dozens and dozens and dozens of stockings stock full of candy and snacks and “America Cares” to thankful Marines.  Care packages and Christmas stockings have poured in from every region of the U.S. and almost every state!

I routinely share that military service is a story of extremes, a tale of opposites, tremendous sacrifices and tremendous rewards.  It is very fitting to share a quote that Nancy shared with me; it is something she pulled out of her journal from our days in Camas. “Thank you Father for your goodness to us, we have the commitment from you that you will help lead us and guide us.  Help us learn to walk beside you and trust you and know that our future is in your hands.  You are a God that walks with us thru the difficulties of darkness–thru the deep shadowy places as well as when our hearts are full of praise.  You are indeed a good shepherd.”

Thanks for taking the time to read this novel. Thanks too for your love, prayers and friendship.    I would love to hear from you.  Calling?  I can receive messages and talk on the application called “VIBER”.  I can also facetime and facetime audio at no cost.  I am eleven hours ahead of you, PST.  By the way… today’s high was 70 and the low is to be about 50… niiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiiice!!!! “God is good….all the time.”

LCDR Greg Uvila, Chaplains Office


*It is best to just refer to me as being in the Middle East…

This Chaplain Wears Two Hats

This Chaplain Wears Two Hats:
By Chaplain Nick Dewhurst

This last quarter has been the greatest blessing for me as a chaplain. In August of 2016, I was given the opportunity to guide the Warrior Transition for Naval Mobile Construction Battalion* (NMCB) 133 in Rota, Spain.

This afforded me the opportunity to meet my new RP (Navy Religious Program Specialist/Chaplain Assistant) and spend quality time mentoring him and leading him; as well as having the chance to influence 300 battalion members.

Throughout the course of the two weeks in Spain, I was able to share character building concepts, advice, stories and Scripture to the many members of NMCB 133 who were preparing to return from their arduous deployment. I was also able to help encourage NMCB 133’s own chaplain and assist him in his ministry.

It was an even bigger blessing to go to Gulfport, MS and see NMCB 133 members after they returned home and follow up with them to see how well they had reintegrated with their families. I’m happy to report that there have not been any major incidents upon return. I would call that Mission Successful!

In the civilian ministry with the Fire Department, we have continued to see an uptick in firefighter suicides in the region. This has been such a concern to me and another chaplain that we have started a Support Network Group to help reach out to those who are hurting. Pray that this ministry will continue to expand and we can offer help before it becomes too late.

Also earlier in December, the department suffered a loss when one of our firefighters lost his daughter. It was a call that had a lot of impact on the firefighters. I was able to arrange a GoFundMe campaign to assist the family, and another friend and I were able to provide other ministry during this time.

Doing CPR on someone so young is never good. Continue to pray for ministry opportunities to the family and other firefighters as issues may creep up for the weeks to come.

Chaplain Dewhurst asks prayer for:
• Continued healthy readjustment and reintegration of NMCB 133 Sailors.
• Effective Suicide Prevention and Intervention ministry among local firefighters.
• Ministry balance between both ministries.

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*Naval Mobile Construction Battalion (NMCB), historically known a “Seabees.”