Army Chaplain Retires After 20 Years of Service to God and Country

By Lori A. McFate, Joint Munitions Command, Public Affairs SpecialistDecember 20, 2022

Chaplain Rodney Gilliam completed his Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship with the City of Hendersonville, North Carolina shadowing departments, monitoring budgets, analyzing processes, and assisting HR with recruitment strategies prior to his official retirement from the U.S. Army.
1 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Chaplain Rodney Gilliam completed his Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship with the City of Hendersonville, North Carolina shadowing departments, monitoring budgets, analyzing processes, and assisting HR with recruitment strategies prior to his official retirement from the U.S. Army. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Col. Todd W. Burnley, JMC chief of staff, presented Mrs. Angela Gilliam with a Certificate of Appreciation for her service and support to the U.S. Army.
2 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Todd W. Burnley, JMC chief of staff, presented Mrs. Angela Gilliam with a Certificate of Appreciation for her service and support to the U.S. Army. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Col. Todd W. Burnley, JMC chief of staff, presented Chaplain Rodney Gilliam with a Certificate of Retirement for his 20 years of Army service.  He was also presented with the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Chief of Chaplain Certificate and Pin at a retirement ceremony at the JMC’s headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois.
3 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Col. Todd W. Burnley, JMC chief of staff, presented Chaplain Rodney Gilliam with a Certificate of Retirement for his 20 years of Army service. He was also presented with the Meritorious Service Medal and the Army Chief of Chaplain Certificate and Pin at a retirement ceremony at the JMC’s headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Chaplain Rodney Gilliam with wife and friends following the retirement ceremony at JMC’s headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois. Pictured (left to right): Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Robert Pleczkowski, Chaplain Gilliam, Angela Gilliam, Mrs. Hawkins, and Chaplain (Col.) Jeff Hawkins.
4 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Chaplain Rodney Gilliam with wife and friends following the retirement ceremony at JMC’s headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois. Pictured (left to right): Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Robert Pleczkowski, Chaplain Gilliam, Angela Gilliam, Mrs. Hawkins, and Chaplain (Col.) Jeff Hawkins. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL
Chaplain Maj. Rodney Gilliam speaks to his wife Angela, JMC leadership and workforce, and family and friends during his retirement ceremony at JMC’s headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois. The ceremony was both in-person and virtual.
5 / 5 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Chaplain Maj. Rodney Gilliam speaks to his wife Angela, JMC leadership and workforce, and family and friends during his retirement ceremony at JMC’s headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois. The ceremony was both in-person and virtual. (Photo Credit: U.S. Army) VIEW ORIGINAL

During a retirement ceremony at the Joint Munitions Command’s headquarters in Rock Island, Illinois, Chaplain Maj. Rodney Gilliam was recognized for his 20-year Army career. JMC Chief of Staff, Col. W. Todd Burnley presided over the ceremony.

“Retirement and retreat ceremonies are part of long-standing military tradition. They provide an opportunity to acknowledge the selfless service and sacrifices of our retirees as they leave long and honorable careers in service to the United States Army and to our Nation,” said Burnley.

Chaplain Gilliam’s wife, Angela, was also honored and recognized for her steadfast love, dedication and support of their family during his 20 years of Army service. Burnley spoke of the extremely challenging time that the Gilliams joined the JMC organization and the many travels that took him away from his family and home.

“Chaplain Gilliam’s retirement ceremony is a testament to his abilities and the faithful execution of his duties to our Army, our Nation, and our faith,” said Burnley.

Gilliam began his military career as an active-duty policeman in 1984, has served in 13 military assignments to include Operation Enduring Freedom and Operation Iraqi Freedom, and was deployed to the humanitarian mission in response to Hurricane Katrina 2005. Gilliam earned a master’s degree from Nazarene Theological Seminary, Kansas City, Missouri, 2005. He completed several chaplain courses such as Chaplain Officer Basic Course, Chaplain Officer Basic III Course, and Chaplain Captain Career Course. Gilliam joined JMC after serving as a planner on the Chief of Chaplains Branch Transformation Team at the U.S. Army Chaplain Center and School in Fort Jackson, South Carolina.

Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Robert Pleczkowski, the former Deputy Chief of Chaplains for the US Army Reserves, gave the invocation prior to the ceremony. Pleczkowski, friend and prior General Officer of the U.S. Army, also shared personal stories about his time serving with Chaplain Gilliam at Fort Jackson, Institute for Religious Leadership.

“We are blessed and thankful to have you a part of our lives,” said Pleczkowski. “Great things are going to happen to you; you’ve already started to prep that next battlefield. I trust that God will give you all that you need, more than you probably want, it will be good and thank you for everything.”

Chaplain (Col.) Jeff Hawkins, former Commandant of the Chaplain School House and personal friend of Chaplain and Mrs. Gilliam was the guest speaker during the retirement ceremony. Hawkins recognized Gilliam and his wife for their 20 years of military service to our country.

“We want to celebrate and honor you. We want you to know that we love you for who you are, and thank you for what you have done,” said Hawkins, who applauded the Gilliams for their 32 years of marriage, and noted what a distinct privilege it is to share stories of them with the audience about their service to God and country for two decades.

Hawkins provided details about their time together in Bagdad, a time of violent combat from 2006-2008, and what made Gilliam an awesome chaplain — character and a good heart, competence and significant skills, and his ability to connect with people.

“Combat doesn’t build character, combat reveals it,” said Hawkins. “It was there in Bagdad that Rod did exactly what great chaplains do. He nurtured the living, cared for the wounded, and honored our dead.” Hawkins went on to describe how Gilliam turned a God-forsaken place into a faith-filled place.

“Rod, we honor and celebrate your character, brother you have a great heart,” said Hawkins. “Rod is a skilled officer with a sharp mind. He can preach, teach, council, care, soldier, staff, lead, and he is a life-long learner.”

Prior to Gilliam’s final departure from the Army in November, he completed a 180-day fellowship with the City of Hendersonville, North Carolina. Through a partnership with the city, the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship, the International City/County Manager’s Association, and the Army, Gilliam served in Hendersonville’s administration department. He gained hands-on experience with budgets, processes, and recruitment strategies for retiring military service members to prepare him for a smooth transition from an Army Soldier into a local government career.

VLGMF is a 12-to-25-week Department of Defense SkillBridge Program that provides transitioning service members with management training and hands-on experience in the local government environment to prepare them for smooth transitions into local government careers. This program matches eligible and selected fellows with surrounding local government sponsors based on skills, education, experience, and the preferences of both parties.

“I have no words to describe how grateful I am to the Army, the International City/County Manager’s Association, and the City of Hendersonville for providing me with this incredible opportunity,” said Gilliam.

The Department of Defense and the Army place great value on providing soldiers with counseling, employment and education as they plan for retirement or transition from Soldier to Civilian. They seek opportunities for the world’s most highly trained and motivated workforce to gain valuable civilian workforce experience during their last 180 days of service.

Gilliam is also currently working on his Ph.D. in public administration from Liberty University and plans to become a city manager upon retirement. He is retiring after more than 20 years of distinguished military service to our country, culminating as the Chaplain for the JMC, and its subordinate installations.

Gilliam was presented with several certificates and awards during the ceremony by Burnley.  Gilliam noted several highlights of his Army career, to include his first deployment with the 82nd Airborne in Iraq from 2007 to 2008, being selected by the Chief of Chaplains to participate in a think-tank tasked with transforming the organizational structure of the Chaplain Corps and providing the oath of enlistment when both of his sons entered the Army.

Thank you, Chaplain Rodney Gilliam, for your support of JMC and for your continued service to our Nation. You have served with distinction, made numerous personal sacrifices, and helped make the best military the world has ever known, even better.

The Facebook Live Retirement Ceremony can be viewed here: https://www.facebook.com/JointMunitionsCommand

For more information about the Veterans Local Government Management Fellowship, visit: https://icma.org/vlgmf/about-veterans-local-government-management-fellowship

JMC produces small, medium, and large-caliber ammunition items for the DOD. JMC is the logistics integrator for life-cycle management of ammunition and provides a global presence of technical support to U.S. combat units wherever they are stationed or deployed. JMC’s logistics operation is unique to the DOD, and its industrial base is an important asset in supporting the warfighter. To learn more about JMC and its subordinate Army installations, visit https://www.jmc.army.mil/.