Guard Member Earns Chaplain of Year Award
Chaplains have myriad reasons for serving their country, but recognition usually isnâ€™t one of them.
â€œChaplains are often in the position where we love to serve so much, itâ€™s always a surprise to be rewarded for it,â€ said Army Chaplain (Capt.) Rebekah Montgomery, who will receive the Chaplain of the Year award from the Military Chaplains Association on July 17.
Montgomery, a Unitarian Universalist chaplain serving with both the Army National Guard Readiness Center here and Marylandâ€™s 58th Troop Command, said she has been a student of religion since high school.
â€œI was always drawn to how people negotiate their daily lives with the experience of the spiritual,â€ said Montgomery, a Bethesda, Md., native. â€œI got so much stimulation out of understanding other faith traditions, and I still do.â€
After an 18-month tour in Afghanistan, Montgomery returned to Maryland and took on two jobs. One weekend a month, she is the brigade chaplain for the 58th Troop Command, a job that she said keeps her grounded in the â€œM-dayâ€ unit mentality. An M-day unit one in which troops serve one weekend a month and a two-week annual tour each year.
â€œWith my state, thatâ€™s where the real nuts-and-bolts mission is,” she said. â€œI feel like Iâ€™m staying in touch and serving at the local level.â€
During the week, she focuses on a broader mission at the readiness center, advising high-level officials on spiritual issues.
â€œMy position at [the National Guard Bureau] is sort of an aide-de-camp for a general,â€ she said. â€œYou go places and see things you would never see in an M-day unit.â€
At the readiness center, Montgomery participated in a recent suicide prevention stand-down, offering her counseling services to soldiers.
â€œSuicide has been an issue I have seen deployed, in the field and on drill weekends,â€ she said. â€œItâ€™s a fact of life and is something chaplains are often involved in.â€
Montgomery said she feels she has made a contribution, but finds it difficult to quantify the results. Morale and a decreasing number of infractions can be indicators, but itâ€™s tough to measure a chaplainâ€™s full impact.
â€œWe donâ€™t see the direct results, but we trust God is using us in a profound and positive way,â€ she said. â€œYou canâ€™t quantify how many divorces didnâ€™t happen. You canâ€™t quantify how many suicides didnâ€™t happen.â€
With her award, Montgomery said she realizes her efforts have not gone unnoticed, and she always keeps in mind the reason she was nominated.
â€œJust having the opportunity to serve soldiers is the greatest mission on Earth.â€
By Army Staff Sgt. S. Patrick McCollum
Special to American Forces Press Service
Table of contents for Military Chaplains
- Jesus Walks the Battlefield
- Father Martin C. Hoehn
- Church: Chaplains are heroes, too.
- Chaplain Gave All-Chaplain (Major) Henry T. Vakoc
- Father Vincent Capodanno
- Father Elmer Heindl
- Father Heindl Saved America
- Father Leo – Saving Souls in Iraq
- Father (Capt.) Emil Kapaun
- Priest Called to Serve – in the Army
- Former Stunt Man Makes Leap to Airborne Ministry
- Female Chaplains Serve God and Country
- West Point Priest in Iraq
- Father Tim Never Surrendered
- Guard Member Earns Chaplain of Year Award
- Aiding God and Country: Chaplain Assistants
- To one Marine chaplain, karma is everything
- New Zealand chaplain making a difference to Afghan orphans
- St. Elijah’s Monastery in Iraq
- Captain Dale A Goetz KIA
- Mass celebrated in a far away land
- Serving God and the troops in Kyrgyzstan
- A breeze and a Bible changed her life
- Our Best: Spc. Heather Lane
- Military service a testimony of faith
- Father Emil Kapaun to be awarded Medal of Honor
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