SCOTT AIR FORCE BASE, Ill - As the Army celebrates the 246th anniversary of its chaplain corps on July 29, the Military Surface Deployment and Distribution Command welcomes a new chaplain to its religious affairs team.
A St. Louis native, Chaplain (Capt) Sean Sullivan is an Army reservist also assigned to the 303rd Medical Command Field Hospital in St. Charles, MO as the deputy brigade chaplain. Prior to coming to SDDC, he was assigned to the 121st Chaplain Detachment and deployed to both Iraq and Kuwait. He has also served as the command chaplain for the 206st Regional Support Command.
“Honestly, I wasn’t searching for military service, it was more of a calling to serve,” Sullivan said. “I had one of those ‘Ok, God! You, me, outside! Let’s go!’ kind of moments. I went to an online job search and put in my qualifications and (saw) a pattern for three pages; youth pastor, Army chaplain, retail management, Army chaplain, art teacher, Army chaplain and so on.”
Sullivan said after some prayer and speaking with his wife, he called a recruiter. As of April, he has served 10 years and said he still loves it.
“The most rewarding aspect of my career has got to be serving the men, women, and families of the nation’s fighting force,” he said. “To be able to build relationships with people, rejoice with them, grieve with them, build resources, and support their efforts is in fact the actual blessing of this career.”
Sullivan’s career field is one of the Army’s oldest and smallest branches of the Army. The Chaplain Corps dates back to July 29, 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized one chaplain for each regiment of the Continental Army. Since the Revolutionary War, chaplains have served in every American conflict. Over the years, the corps evolved, with the addition of Roman Catholic chaplains in the Mexican War, and Jewish and African American chaplains during the Civil War. The position of chaplain assistant was created to support the work of chaplains.
“I am proud of our corps,” said SDDC Religious Affairs Specialist Staff Sgt. Jeffery Grimes. “Each chaplain has a call placed on his or her life to serve in accordance to his or her belief. Even with that, we all answer the call to perform or provide religious support to all faith groups in our Armed Forces. The Army has been stressing personal readiness and resilience - physical, emotional, social, family and spiritual. The chaplain corps strives to help soldiers achieve readiness in all dimensions and makes the Army a stronger force as a result.”
According to Sullivan, this is the primary focus for him and Grimes. Due to COVID, he wants to build a lasting imprint of digital interaction and ministry, provide opportunities for personal growth and continue daily prayer and bible studies.
“There will be more as my boots gain traction,” he said. “There are a few ideas of building and recreating in a post-COVID world of a stronger, more resilient community within the SDDC. Professionally, I would like to build a safe place for all of the SDDC to be able to express feelings, concerns, to be able to build and grow their spiritual self, and to advise the command team in areas of morale and spiritual fitness.”
For 246 years, this has been the mission of the Chaplain Corps. Always present with their Soldiers in war and in peace, Army chaplains have served in more than 270 major wars and combat engagements. Around 400 Army chaplains have laid down their lives in battle. Six have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Their love of God, country and the American Soldier has been a beacon of light and a message of hope for all those who have served our nation.
For Sullivan and Grimes, they said they want to strengthen and enhance the momentum and spirit of SDDC’s Surface Warriors who keep the mission moving.
“Chaplain Sullivan and I want to be there for you,” said Grimes. “We may not know the answer, but we will be with you as you are going through it. We will search for answers, walk beside you, listen, and be there with you. You don’t have to go it alone.”
“The people that support and serve this command have proven to be such a resilient group of individuals,” said Sullivan. “Coming from a logistics regional support group and being deployed, the importance of movement and support for a mission to be successful, was the direct focus. Yet to see how it is done on a strategic scale and the dedication and hard work of all involved, I am left speechless.”
“The joy of this job is the people. It truly is an honor and pleasure to serve alongside them,” continued Sullivan. “My goals are to be readily assessable, to be a safe place to land, to provide guidance and resources in all avenues of religious support, and to offer counsel. I look forward to getting to know everyone and sharing this adventure.”