By Sgt. Eric GlasseySeptember 19, 2013
KANDAHAR AIRFIELD, Afghanistan - Sgt. Michelle McCullah lights a candle, adding its glow to the spectrum of color cast through the stained glass windows into the chapel.
McCullah is the chaplain assistant for Headquarters and Headquarters Battalion, 4th Infantry Division, stationed out of Fort Carson, Colo., and is currently serving with Regional Command (South) at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan.
The chaplain assistant's job and responsibilities are as diverse as the world's religions, and as administrative as any secretary. McCullah works with Chaplain (Capt.) Samuel Rico to provide spiritual ministry to the battalion.
"It's really important (having McCullah) because, in this unit, as a chaplain, I have to be concerned for the spiritual needs of some 900 people in some form or another," Rico said "That's a lot for one person; it helps having her keep me on track."
McCullah takes being a chaplain assistant beyond simple administrative work by extending Rico's ministry to the Soldiers.
"She is an enthusiastic NCO who always has Soldier's care on her mind," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Bill Harrison, division chaplain, 4th Inf. Div. "She goes around as a morale officer for the unit, lifting the spirits of the Soldiers, which makes for an ideal chaplain assistant."
In her service as a chaplain assistant, McCullah assists other units in their duties to better minister to them.
"A big part of (my job) is getting to know the Soldiers that are in our unit," McCullah said. "I'll go out and help other sections, whether it is helping with inventory or the mail. Just communicating with them and getting to know them better, and making sure they are being taken care of. A big part of our job is focusing on Soldier's morale and welfare."
Interacting and ministering with the Soldiers while providing knowledge about various Army resources is the highlight of McCullah's job.
"My favorite part about my job is taking care of Soldiers when they come in for help," McCullah said. "For whatever reason they come in, whether it's informing new Soldiers about resources like Army Community Service or Better Opportunity for Single Soldiers when they were in processing back at Fort Carson, or here just listening to them until the chaplain gets there."
McCullah's responsibilities will expand when HHBN assumes responsibility for Fraise Chapel at Kandahar Airfield, Afghanistan, on Oct. 1.
"I am very excited to take on the chapel," McCullah said. "I hope to mentor younger chaplain assistants, as well as hone in on my skills and duties."
McCullah's tie to her family keeps her focused on what's important in her life.
"I want to own a house...so that I can take care of my Family," said McCullah, a native from Marysville, Calif. "I know where I came from, and I want to do better for myself. I should finish my associate's degree by the end of 2014 and eventually go on to get my bachelors."