GRAFENWOEHR, Germany — Chaplain (Lt. Col) Henry Soussan, Deputy Garrison Chaplain and Rabbi for U.S. Army Garrison Bavaria, was promoted to the rank of colonel during a ceremony on Nov. 23, at the Tower Barracks Chapel. After nearly 20 years, Soussan's promotion makes him one of two Rabbi Colonels currently in the U.S. Army.
"I was one of the first classes to graduate after 9/11 — that's the reason I joined the Army," Soussan said. "At the time, I was living in Germany and just recently finished my Ph.D."
Before the 9/11 attacks, Soussan said he never considered joining the U.S. Army.
"It was such a far-fetched idea. I had never even been to the States," Soussan said. "But when 9/11 happened, my wife and I figured this is what I'm supposed to do. I left everything behind and joined the Army."
Before joining the Army, Soussan was inspired by how Americans came together in the months following the 9/11 attacks.
"I remember seeing all the public expressions of grief and healing following 9/11," Soussan said. "For me, as a European, what I was most impressed with was an interfaith event that I saw on TV."
According to Soussan, the interfaith event included religious leaders from different religions coming together to heal and pray together.
"That showed me how America was the country where people could get along, regardless of religious beliefs or opposing opinions," Soussan said. "This idea of tolerance was very attractive to me."
The ideas of tolerance and interfaith connection led Soussan throughout his military career.
"I hope that I can continue to contribute a tiny bit to the same idea of interfaith connection with the U.S. Army," Soussan said. "It was always my goal to not only be the chaplain for the Jewish Soldiers, but to be a chaplain for everybody. This promotion to colonel will put me in a position where I can continue to interact with people from all cultures and backgrounds."