By Jason CutshawAugust 29, 2018
REDSTONE ARSENAL, Alabama -- Leading a flock of professionals can be daunting as well as rewarding to those called to serve a higher power.
U.S. Army Space and Missile Defense Command/Army Forces Strategic Command Chaplain (Col.) Mark A. Frederick answered that call in June 2018 when he was assigned to serve as the command's chaplain for Soldiers, civilians and Family members stationed worldwide.
"I hope to bring religious support at SMDC to a higher level," Frederick said. "I want to provide spiritual healing to wounded warriors and wounded civilians here at SMDC.
"As human, we all have life challenges and problems. Relationships usually ranks high on the 'problem' chart," he added. "Whether it is work or relationship problems, I hope I can intervene and assist."
Frederick's mission as the USASMDC/ARSTRAT chaplain is to provide religious support to the command and advise our commander to ensure religious rights for command members are upheld.
"A big piece is also to advise the commander on the moral and ethical issues in his command," Frederick said. "Even though my main mission is here at SMDC, I also have responsibilities on Redstone Arsenal, whether it is at a chapel or during an emergency."
Frederick came to SMDC from Fort Drum, New York, and said his experiences from New York's "North Country," as well as at Fort Bragg, North Carolina; Fort Campbell, Kentucky; Walter Reed Army Medical Center in Washington, D.C.; Germany; Korea; and two combat tours in Afghanistan and one in Iraq; have prepared him for the global command.
"SMDC is unique," Frederick said. "You have a higher ratio of civilians than Soldiers, but I have worked in a two garrison commands and at Walter Reed where it was primarily civilians, as well as pastoring a church for five years, so I have extensive experience in this environment. This experience enables me to relate to civilians and minister to them even though I am in uniform.
"One thing that is a burden to me is that some civilians may think I may be here only for Soldiers," he continued. "I understand and respect that they may have civilian ministers and pastors in their churches, but I would like the people here to see me as another option for them, if needed. I see the people at SMDC as my 'flock' and I am here for them.
"My goal is help make every person healthy," Frederick added. "Like a medical doctor wants to make them healthy physically, my ultimate goal is to help people spiritually. When it comes to Families, civilians and Soldiers, I just want them to know I am available as much as possible."
Frederick said he would like directorate and higher leaders to keep him in the loop if their team members are experiencing a tragedy, death or even a serious illness. He also emphasized that he is an advocate if people are experiencing any spiritual dilemmas.
"A lot of people struggle with religion and a lot of people have questions and don't know who to ask," Frederick said. "I would like people to feel free to ask me. I may not know the answer but I might be able to help them find it. If they are in a spiritual struggle or they are in a dilemma where they are questioning something theological and would like a little more information, I would like to assist.
"Some people here whose religion may not be in the majority, I am here to help facilitate their search," he added. "Whether it be a minister, rabbi, imam or whatever they may need. That is part of my duties as a chaplain to assist them."
He added that Soldiers usually do not have a problem talking with a chaplain but would like to ensure civilians and family members feel at ease speaking with him.
"I think I am very compassionate," Frederick said. "I am very empathetic and approachable and I think that has been a major part of my success as a chaplain. I feel honored to be a pastor, a minister and a chaplain at SMDC.
"I don't put on any 'airs' as far as my rank, and I have to look down every once in a while just to remember I am a colonel," he added. "The cross on my uniform outweighs the rank in my heart and mind. I don't have the haughtiness that you can't approach me because you are not a colonel or a GS-19."