By Maj. Thomas Cieslak (82nd Airborne)March 9, 2018
As a child, Capt. Oleksandr Ishchuk dreamed of becoming an officer in the Ukrainian Army. Today, he is fulfilling his life's calling as a Chaplain in the United States Army's 3rd Brigade Combat Team, 82nd Airborne Division.
"Serving in the U.S. Army as a chaplain is a fulfillment of the mission I know God calls me to," said Ishchuk. "It is also an opportunity for me to serve the country that extended hospitality while offering refuge and endless opportunities to me and my family."
When he was fifteen, Ishchuk became a Christian and, soon after that, a youth minister. In 2003, he and his family immigrated to the US from Ukraine. Almost immediately, Ishchuk had the opportunity to minister to a few friends; some veterans and others still serving in the Army. From them, he learned about military chaplaincy.
"From that point on, I felt a very clear and unmistakable calling to the ministry of military chaplaincy," said Ishchuk. "From day one of Junior College, military chaplaincy was IT. There was never a 'Plan B."
Ishchuk grew up in the small Ukrainian village of Kamynitsa located on the border with Slovakia in the Carpathian Mountains. After immigrating to the US, he eventually graduated in 2014 with a Masters in Divinity from Western Seminary in Sacramento California and is currently endorsed by the Evangelical Church Alliance.
His family persecuted for their faith during the USSR's occupation of Ukraine, Ishchuk sees the freedom to worship and practice his faith as the greatest freedom. Military chaplaincy, he says serves and protects that freedom for the American people while setting an example for the rest of the world.
"To serve in the U.S. Army as a Chaplain is an amazing gift from God and from the American people who trust me with their sons and daughters, fathers and mothers, husbands and wives," said Ischchuk. "For this precious gift and privilege, I am very grateful"