Fort Hood chaplains -- bonded by family ties and service to their country
January 27, 2014
FORT HOOD, Texas (Jan. 27, 2014) -- Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brian Crane knew in his heart he wanted to serve God and his country as an Army chaplain. He never imagined that one day he would be a member of a family of U.S. Army chaplains.
His daughter, Chaplain (Capt.) Aimee Crane-Blake, surprised him with her decision to enroll in a seminary program and become an Army chaplain.
"Of course, I'm very, very proud of my daughter and the fact that she would want to do this and follow this life," said Crane.
While in graduate school, Crane-Blake met and fell in love with her now husband Chaplain (Capt.) Brian Blake.
"When the time came for them to get married, they asked me to do their wedding and so I did do their wedding and it was a great privilege," said Crane.
Crane is the command chaplain for the 13th Sustainment Command (Expeditionary) at Fort Hood, Texas. As a chaplain, he can fulfill his calling as a minister of the Christian faith while serving his country by attending to the spiritual needs of Soldiers and their Families.
Crane-Blake had also dreamed of being in the Army, but her path towards becoming a chaplain took her by surprise too.
"I actually didn't want to become an Army chaplain, but God called me to this when I was in my sophomore year in college," Crane-Blake said. "I remember being a child and being in situations where people would ask military personnel and veterans to please stand up. My grandfathers would stand, my uncles would stand, my father would stand and eventually my brother would stand. I remember sitting there thinking, 'I want to stand … I want to serve my country, too.' And it has been such a privilege to serve my country in this manner."
Blake and Crane-Blake met after she was a chaplain candidate for about a year, and Blake had just started his journey to become a chaplain.
"I was an engineer officer for a few years, and during that time we had a shortage of chaplains," Blake said. "I was getting phone calls from other places that really expressed a need for chaplains. As I began praying about that, God rooted within me that conviction to reach out and try to meet that need. So I left active duty in 2008 and went into the Army Chaplain Candidate Program."
"As an Army chaplain, I'm embedded in a community of anywhere from 500 to 1,200 Soldiers and their families," Blake said. "I go day in and day out engaging with those folks, whether it's in their office or out in the field training. Few pastors get that opportunity."
Crane is grateful that he now serves as a supervisor of young chaplains.
"I provide care to the caregivers, but this can be difficult," Crane said. "They are focused on their work and always want to do their best, and sometimes they lose perspective. One of my jobs as a chaplain supervisor is to look for signs of stress and figure out when they need support. The Army, and particularly the Army chaplaincy, is more like a marathon than a sprint; we have to take care of ourselves too, so that we can continue to do what we do over time."
"We go everywhere Soldiers go," said Crane. "If Soldiers go to Afghanistan or Iraq, we go with them. We are assigned to units, not to chapels. We may serve a chapel on the weekend, but during the week, we serve a commander and all the Soldiers under that command. We are embedded with all the units of the Army, and we're there with them all the time. It's our obligation as chaplains to serve the religious needs of the Soldiers wherever they are; whether overseas or right here at Fort Hood."
Crane has been on active duty as an Army chaplain for nearly 18 years, serving not only in the United States, but also abroad in Korea, Afghanistan and Iraq.
"Serving overseas is a rewarding opportunity," Crane said. "I got the chance to know the people from other countries and their cultures, as well as how Soldiers adapt in these environments. As chaplains, we bring a little bit of familiarity and comfort to Soldiers, connecting them with home. We're involved with those who are having problems, and we do a lot of counseling; but, we're also there at times of celebration such as weddings or baptisms."
Since 1775, the Army Chaplain Corps has been home to what is perhaps the most unique and valuable team of Soldiers ever assembled. It's also one of the oldest branches of the Army; serving as the unsung heroes all the way back to the Revolutionary War, keeping the men in high spirits during the most distressing and painful of times.
"I know that I was meant to be an Army chaplain because it is what God created me for," Crane-Blake said. "He has given me the strength, the perseverance and so many tools required to do this job."
One of Crane-Blake's favorite things about Army chaplaincy is that she doesn't just see people on Sunday, but works with them on a regular basis and gets to know them.
"I feel like I have more of a part of their lives in some ways than if I was in regular pastoral ministry," Crane-Blake said.
The special connection she has with her father has always been a cherished aspect of her ministry.
"It has been such a blessing to have a family of chaplains because I can always go back to my father, and always get that support!" Crane-Blake said, "When I come home from work at night, I have someone else who knows exactly what my day was like."