Chaplain shines as Task Force Currahee's beacon of faith
January 26, 2011
PAKTIKA PROVINCE, Afghanistan - His daily ritual consists of stopping by and checking in: "Hello, How is everybody'" "Hope all is well!" "God Bless you," he says, his words reflecting kindness, appreciation and his Southern accent.
His energy and ear-to-ear smile can lighten up even the darkest situations. He is sincere and caring, loving to all and judgmental to none.
U.S. Army Chaplain (Maj.) Randal H. Robison has committed his life to answering his calling and is happy being a source of optimism and positivity for soldiers during deployment.
"I look at the position I hold as the brigade chaplain as a calling," said Robison, brigade chaplain for 4th Brigade Combat Team or Task Force Currahee, 101st Airborne Division. "I believe I am here, appointed by the Lord, to be present to provide pastoral-care ministry and to be present for the services of our soldiers and for our chaplains."
His responsibilities include oversight of six religious support teams that cover all of Paktika province and beyond, working with his Afghan counterpart and fulfilling his staff officer duties. But it is going above and beyond those roles with a sense of humility that separates him from others.
"I enjoy what I do, I treasure the role of the chaplaincy very much," said the Grand Prairie, Texas, native. "I wholeheartedly embrace it, bringing God to soldiers and soldiers to God is very much at the basic core of my identity. I want to do to everything I can to encourage soldiers, to let them know that even in their difficult moments with the challenges they face God is with them."
His Christian beliefs are at the core of who he is, yet for many soldiers his ability to care and make time for others is what differentiates him from the status quo.
"My favorite thing about Chaplain Robison is even when he is extremely busy, if you need to talk, he will stop what he is doing and listen to you," said U.S. Army Pfc. Genevieve A. Harms, paralegal specialist with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 4th BCT, 101st Abn. Div. "He remembers your problems and the next time he sees you he makes sure everything has worked out; he actually cares about soldiers and their families."
Caring about soldiers is just something he does, not because he has to, but because he wants to.
"I want all soldiers to know that I do care and I, at the end of the day, am a soldier just like the most-junior private we have," Robison said. "If I see them, I want to engage them and encourage them, knowing they have a story."
"I want to know how they are doing and how their families are doing because I truly feel, deeply, that our soldiers are America's finest," he said. "They are willing to serve and to be away from their families and face the hardships and challenges, therefore they deserve our best. Every soldier deserves the best from the soldier next to them, so that we can be able to get our mission accomplished. I want soldiers to know that they are cared for, to nourish them for who they are."
The brigade chaplain said he sees soldiers and just wants to reach out. Chaplains at the battalion level have an opportunity to interact more with troops; the role is different at the brigade level. "But it is still embracing the spirit and kissing the soul of the soldiers and letting them know that you do care and that God cares for them too."
Robison has a knack for making the soldiers he "cares for" feel like they are talking to an old friend.
"When I talk to him, he makes me feel like I am talking to someone I have known my whole life," said Harms, a Tacoma, Wash., native. "He knows where I am coming from and he does not judge me based on the decisions I have made.
"When I see him walking toward me, I get the feeling that everything is going to be okay, even if I only come across him for just one second it makes my day better," she said.
Ultimately, for Robison it is about duty, country and honoring God through his service.
"I want to know I made a difference, that my service was not just signing up and going through the motions, but that I made a difference in the lives of those who I have been able to meet because they have made a difference in mine," said Robison, explaining that his statement was not out of arrogance, but from a humble attempt to care for others. "With every soldier, I think if I can know them that maybe somehow I could make a difference in their life."
Robison said he tries to start every day on his knees in prayer. "Part of my prayer is to place my life and the lives of my soldiers in Christ's hands and for his guidance wisdom and understanding and I try to rest in that," he said. "To know that God's keeping hand is upon us for all Currahees."
"I think [what drives me] would go back to my calling," said Robison. "It is not just a role; it is developed from my own experience with God and through my personal relationship with him, through Jesus Christ his son. It defines who I am as a Christian pastor and in my role as a Christian chaplain it just compels me to it. I try to do it with a sense of joy."