NATICK, Mass. – Natick Soldier Systems Center recently welcomed Chaplain (MAJ) Mark Miller as the new chaplain integrator who brings a wealth of experience to this important position.
“It’s a very interesting position and title,” said Miller, who came here from Fort Bragg. “This was a focus of the previous chaplain who held this position. We integrate what the Chaplain Corps needs with what the Army is doing here and the Army needs. It is more research than face-to-face time with Soldiers. But I do that as well.”
His time at Fort Bragg was divided between two command assignments and will be a contrast to his new position.
“I served in two assignments at Ft. Bragg,” said Miller. “I was the 1st Brigade Combat Team Chaplain at the 82nd Airborne Division for two years. Then, I went to First Special Forces Command as the Deputy Plans and Operations Chaplain for an additional two years.
While serving with 1st Brigade Combat Team he deployed to Afghanistan. He attributes a wealth of experience and knowledge to the opportunity to serve in these assignments.
Miller grew up in Umpire, Ark. and loves history. That love of history led him to volunteer to come to Natick.
“I want to explore the northeast and where it all began as a Nation,” Miller said. “And the history as it pertains to military research and development.”
Miller enlisted in the Army in 1988 as a Private 1st Class Psychological Operations Specialist. Within 13 years he had made the rank of Sgt. 1st Class in the U.S. Army Reserve. In addition to his Master of Divinity, he holds a Master’s in Education and considers teaching his first passion.
“I’m not sure I chose my career,” said Miller. “I believe the career chose me.”
Miller deployed as part of the first Gulf War from 1990-1991 and then to Bosnia. From there he applied for a direct commission and was approved.
“It was surreal, I went to Drill one day as a Sgt. 1st Class and left that afternoon as a 2nd. Lt.” Miller said. “I initially commissioned as a Quartermaster officer. When I commissioned, something within me said that more change was coming. It was then that I feel I was called to ministry, specifically the chaplaincy. After I started seminary to work on the requirements to become a chaplain, I remained a drilling TPU member as a Quartermaster and I even deployed as a fuel platoon leader in 2004. After finishing seminary in 2005, my denominational endorser approved me to become an active duty chaplain. But, the Army said no, go spend another year in the Reserves.”
He remained confident in his calling to the Active Component chaplaincy while he spent his 18th year in the Reserve component as a Reserve unit chaplain. During this year he was deployed in support of Operation Iraqi Freedom.
“In 2006, I deployed as a Reserve chaplain and when I returned I applied again in 2007 for active duty and was accepted,” Miller said. “I felt like it was a long road to becoming an active component Chaplain but in 2007 I entered the active component Chaplain Corps.”
Chaplain Miller shared that he actively sought out a position at Natick’s unique post because of its unique mission. Miller has a plan for his time here at Natick. He hopes to bring his skills and experience base to Natick’s research and material capabilities in order to improve chaplain kits for other Chaplains to use in the field while ensuring he supports the Installation’s religious needs.
“Chaplains do need Chaplain kits,” Miller said. “This is where it was developed years ago. And, it keeps evolving from generation to generation. So, there are some materiel development needs that the Corps has.”
“My initial focus on the kits is to assess what we have to see what may be improved,” said Miller. “My primary focus is to take care of the people here at Natick – Soldiers and civilians alike. To take care of the force and make sure that we have religious support - that we care for the needs that are among us. And incorporate that in the materiel development to further along our mission here at Natick.”