For God and Country
February 12, 2011
- For Soldiers stationed on Forward Operating Base Delta, in southern Iraq, one man's doors are always open.
- "I was known by my peers as the 'Hanging Lieutenant'," said Morrison with a laugh.
- At the same time he felt a constant tug to serve God and the ministry.
- "You have to care for and about Soldiers," he said. "You help them to find strength by knowing where your own sources of strength come from.
WASIT, Iraq - Deployed Soldiers sometimes find themselves in need of counsel. They may have problems stemming from their job, financial debt, family troubles at home or may just need some spiritual guidance.
For Soldiers stationed on Forward Operating Base Delta, in southern Iraq, one man's doors are always open. He doesn't claim to have all the answers but is sure to simply sit and listen to your troubles.
Capt. D. Todd Morrison, chaplain for 2nd Squadron, 3rd Armored Cavalry Regiment, is a sincere and genuine Soldier who says he lives by a simple motto, "Smile. God loves you."
Morrison was born and raised in Marion, S.C. He remembers the small town being a place you could ride your bike around into the evening, with no worries.
After graduating from Marion High School in 1988, his path led him to the Citadel, where he was commissioned an infantry officer and served his first tour of duty at Fort Carson, Colo. There he served as his brigade commander's adjutant, and spent his days reviewing packets for those pending Article 15.
"I was known by my peers as the 'Hanging Lieutenant' said Morrison with a laugh. "I had a habit of recommending the maximum punishment. I figured if you had to stand before the brigade commander, you probably deserved it."
After his first term, Morrison had a break in service, and found himself working in the computer business, a job he says he loved very much.
At the same time he felt a constant tug to serve God and the ministry. He struggled with the decision to follow his instinct or stay with the job he so enjoyed.
While a member of his church's fellowship, he taught Sunday school in addition to his regular
attendance. He was once called upon to serve in a prison ministry program for the church, and recalls finding the prospect a little nerve-racking.
"I was struggling with what I really wanted to do with myself and was sure that if I couldn't be totally honest before these men, they would see right through me."
His first session with the men required him to discuss with them what his own life priorities were. He went on to tell the men his first priority, above all else, was his service to God.
"That's when I realized my true calling, the path I'd been meant to follow."
Morrison would go on to receive his Masters of Divinity from Emory University and ultimately, in 2007, come back to active service in the Army Chaplain Corps.
His first assignment as a Chaplain was with basic training Soldiers at Fort Jackson, S.C. He recalls the assignment as being very challenging, but rewarding at the same time.
"It's difficult when you see a new group of Soldiers every 14 weeks," Morrison said. "These new Soldiers, however, presented new opportunities for me to do God's work."
It was the basic training environment, he said, that gave him the unique chance to assist Soldiers in transitioning from civilian life to the military, which many of them found quite difficult at times.
Today, Morrison spends his days with a new set of Soldiers on FOB Delta. Though he tends a much larger group now, he continues to lean on several basic principles.
"You have to care for and about Soldiers," he said. "You help them to find strength by knowing where your own sources of strength come from."
Morrison also stresses consistency of character.
"You have to be the same person at the pulpit that you are any other time or place," he said. "Being a chaplain is not just what we do but who we truly are."
As for his future, Morrison says that God has sent him along a varied journey. After serving in the infantry, working as a computer technician, and now as an Army chaplain, he just looks forward to the next door God will open for him.
"You know, Soldiers will get down. They'll have hard times," he said. "I always tell them the same thing. 'Just smile, God loves you.'"