New Picatinny chaplain adjusts to new assignment
April 18, 2014
Lt. Col. David Jacob arrived at Picatinny Arsenal roughly three months ago, replacing the outgoing chaplain, Lt. Col. Kwon Pyo.
Jacob arrived from Bamberg,Germany where he and his family resided for five years including adeployment in Afghanistan.
"When you are overseas like that it becomes your new normal," Jacob said. "You have to adjust to life coming back to the States."
Jacob who is married with six children is originally from Wisconsin, however,he had spent time in New Jersey years ago while attending the Chaplain's School at Fort Monmouth, almost two
decades before the post fell victim to the Base Realignment and Closure Act and closed its gates forever.
Like many before him, Jacob had never heard of Picatinny until receiving orders in 2013.
ADJUSTING TO PICATINNY
"I'm still trying to figure out how to bridge the gap to the community that is primarily all civilian," Jacob said.
Jacob admits that even while he was attending seminary school 20 years ago he did not know there was such a thing as an "Army chaplain."
"I was walking around and saw these guys in the school wearing military uniforms and asked 'Who are they? What are they doing here?' So it wouldn't be of any surprise to me if there are people working here who do not know that I am here or of my purpose," Jacob said.
Jacob said "the normal operating procedure for a chaplain is to be with a military unit and do what the unit does."
At Picatinny things are a bit different and the chaplain states that it will take some time to get used to.
"The mission of the scientists and engineers rarely intersects with what I'm doing and I have to figure out how to best serve the needs of these folks,"Jacob said.
Jacob states that in the three shorts months he has been back in the Garden State he has met a lot of people on the Arsenal through scheduled meetings and classes or training.
"I'm surprised by and impressed with the longevity of employment and the great length of distance that employees will travel to come to work," Jacob said. "It goes to show that this place is like a big family and that leadership tries to foster an environment where people want to come to work and want to stay here.
CHALLENGES IN NEW ASSIGNMENT
"The goals of the Army or the Marine Corps or any military service are not religious pursuits so being relevant and being present for people when there is no need or requirement is challenging," Jacob said.
Chaplain Jacob has found that short of blasting out emails post-wide or walking cubicle to cubicle it is very hard to get the word out and meet Picatinnyans.
A personal challenge that Jacob is coming to realize is that since he is the only Chaplain assigned to Picatinny it does not leave much time in the way of annual leave or family time.
"Chaplain Pyo took leave but he never left the area," Jacob said.
This was a testament to Pyo's commitment to serving the community in case a need were to arise. As previously mentioned, Chaplain Jacob joined the Army after finding out that he could use his trade as a priest while in the military.
"I always wanted to join the military so when I saw those priests in uniform,that was the perfect marriage for me,"he said.
Jacob said that a good portion of his work week is preparing for Sunday's Protestant mass. Assisting him are two soldiers in Staff Sgt.Gary Miles and Cpl.Stacey Lewis Jr.
"They're really important to executing the programs we offer,and are a great asset to me,especially on Sunday morning,"the chaplain said.
As Picatinny's chaplain he also provides space for a Bible study on Thursday afternoon's, and a Women of the Chapel meeting Tuesday evenings and Wednesday mornings. The chapel is also provided for Islamic and Catholic services.
OPEN DOOR POLICY
Jacob said that while he wears a cross on his uniform his reach does not stop with service members.
"Whether you are religious and go to church every Sunday or you are an Atheist, I still have an open door. I am here for everyone," he said.
The Chaplain's Office is located in building 119, the Army Community Service Center.