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    Holy Rolling: Doing the Lord's work for the Guard

    Nebraska Army National Guard Chaplain Capt. Tyler Wilterding

    Photo By Spc. Daniel Balkovic | Capt. Tyler Wilterding of Kearney, Nebraska, chaplain for the Nebraska Army National...... read more read more

    LINCOLN, NE, UNITED STATES

    07.29.2019

    Courtesy Story

    Joint Force Headquarters - Nebraska National Guard

    The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps was founded 244 years ago today, on July 29, 1775. From its humble beginnings, the Chaplain Corps has grown to more than 2,700 chaplains serving in the total U.S. Army – active, Guard and Reserve.
    Maj. Tyler Wilterding of Kearney, Nebraska, chaplain for the Nebraska Army National Guard’s 92nd Troop Command in Lincoln, joined the Guard eight years ago after receiving some guidance from a professor.
    “‘If you want to do real ministry, and really get your hands dirty with people, consider serving as a chaplain in one of the military branches,’” Wilterding said, recalling his professor’s advice. “I decided right then and there, that sounds like a great thing to do, to be able to serve America’s Soldiers.”
    Wilterding is a full-time Baptist pastor in Kearney, but in order to be effective in his mission of offering moral and spiritual support to Soldiers, he must be well versed in multiple religions and denominations including Catholicism, Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism and more. U.S. Army chaplains currently represent 140 different religious organizations.
    With such diversity of religion in the military, chaplains often need help to provide guidance.
    “If I can’t provide for the spiritual needs of a Soldier, I’m committed to making sure those can be provided,” Wilterding said. “Luckily we have a lot of great communities around here with a lot of great resources, who will be able to help Soldiers I might not have the exact same faith with.”
    For the most part, however, many faiths share a lot of the same values.
    The job of a military chaplain can be dangerous. Chaplains are responsible for Soldiers both stateside and in war torn areas. Nearly 300 Army chaplains have lost their lives in battle; seven have been awarded the Medal of Honor. What makes the heroic deeds of the chaplains mentioned previously all the more courageous is that chaplains are non-combatants. This means that while they deploy to volatile areas, they are without any personal means of defending themselves.
    “It’s never been a fear,” Wilterding said. “I’ve always had great chaplain assistants who I have a great level of trust in. Also I understood when I took the oath that I was signing on to be a non-combatant. I have great trust in the Lord to go before me and be my protector.”
    Wilterding’s chaplain assistant is Staff Sgt. Devin Lovgren, originally from Fairbury, Nebraska. A chaplain assistant since 2009, Lovgren currently serves as the religious affairs noncommissioned officer for the 92nd Troop Command.
    Lovgren began his military career in flight operations with the 110th Medical Battalion. He said he never intended on becoming a chaplain assistant. “At 19 years old, the units were in re-shuffle so I had to re-class, and somebody mentioned becoming a chaplain assistant,” Lovgren said. “The school was only two weeks long, so I went for it.”
    As a chaplain assistant, Lovgren helps Wilterding synchronize religious support for Soldiers and determine what practices may or may not be appropriate in a given environment. Chaplain assistants support all unit military team programs and worship services, and in-combat situations, protect their assigned chaplain from harm.
    Together Wilterding and Lovgren make up the ministry team for 92nd Troop Command, and their goals are best described in the servant ethos of the Military Chaplain, which states: “Nurture the Living, Care for the Wounded, Honor the Dead.” Their primary responsibility is to provide counsel and act as a listening ear or even a crying shoulder to Soldiers on any number of topics, from the mundane to the heartbreakingly serious.
    “You have to be able to keep these Soldiers’ issues to yourself,” Lovgren said. “You need a moral and ethical backbone; a commitment to confidentiality and care of a Soldier’s emotional and spiritual well-being.”
    Lovgren said the greatest strength chaplains have are their ability to listen to the concerns of the Soldiers they serve, and give them the comfort they need during a crisis.
    “My biggest gratification in this job is helping Soldiers get the help they need,” Lovgren said. “To be able to talk them off the ledge, say suicide; help marriages stay together; help children; and be able to get a Soldier back on their feet.”
    Wilterding echoed this sentiment, adding that both compassion and understanding are necessary skills for any ministry team. “A lot of times when someone is looking to talk to me, they just want to be heard when dealing with things they are struggling with,” Wilterding said. “I always think about how I would want someone to guide and direct me with care and wisdom.”
    The two of them share an unbreakable bond, built on trust and the unwavering purpose to take care of Soldiers on and off the battlefield.
    Lovgren poetically put their relationship best: “My job is to protect the Chaplain anyway I can, including laying down my life,” Lovgren said. “It’s not to die for the chaplain, but to make sure that he lives to continue helping Soldiers mentally and spiritually.”
    (Nebraska National Guard article by Spc. Daniel Balkovic)

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 07.29.2019
    Date Posted: 07.29.2019 11:50
    Story ID: 333468
    Location: LINCOLN, NE, US 
    Hometown: FAIRBURY, NE, US
    Hometown: KEARNEY, NE, US

    Web Views: 93
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    Holy Rolling: Doing the Lord's work for the Guard