CASTEAU, Belgium – An Army chaplain’s prayers were answered last year when he was selected to serve as the international staff chaplain for the Supreme Headquarters Allied Powers Europe.
“I always wanted to serve in the international community,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Jorge Baez Ramirez. “I saw the position advertised, applied for it, we prayed, and I got the call that I was selected. I think God selected me to be here.”
Baez was commissioned as an Army chaplain in 2010 serving with the Army Reserve’s 338th Medical Brigade in Horsham, Penn., and worked as a hospice and hospital chaplain for eight years.
“The U.S. Army gave me the opportunity to serve and to help others at the same time,” said Baez. “I always had a heart for helping people.
“I love assisting Soldiers and their families with their spiritual issues and getting them connected with God and their loved ones.”
Baez said his greatest experience in his career as an Army chaplain came a few years ago during reserve annual training.
“A Soldier from another unit came to me ready to commit suicide and asked me to give him a reason not to do it,” said Baez. “We spoke for about three hours that night. He found out how much his family loved him.
“We cried together, and he made me a promise he will change his life. We admitted him into a hospital for a few days, and we are still in touch till this day.”
Baez started working at SHAPE in February for what was only seven months on the original orders but has since been offered the opportunity to stay for an additional one or two years. He said he is praying with his family for guidance on what is best for him and his family.
“My family and God are my source of strength,” said Baez. “Not having them with me (on this assignment) is challenging for me.
“Although we talk and have our family altar morning worship at 6 a.m Eastern Time, I missed them very much. But knowing that they support my work and appreciate what I do here, makes me strive harder every day.
“My family is and always has been a central part of my ministry. Without my family my ministry would not make sense. Everywhere I go for ministry, my family is there with me.”
Baez said his goal during this assignment is to be a source of spiritual strength for the entire community. He also said he wants the international staff chaplain position at SHAPE to be recognized as critically important for directing the religious activity in the chapel and for SHAPE across the larger multinational community.
For Baez, the most difficult part of being a chaplain is gaining people’s trust so they can share their spiritual and family issues.
“Because of personal experience sometimes people hesitate to trust us as chaplains, but once we get their trust it is easier to minister to their needs,” said Baez. “Most Soldiers know how to keep themselves physically and mentally fit, but when it comes to spiritual fitness most people need help.
“Chaplains are here to make sure all Soldiers’ spiritual needs are met in their own religious beliefs and practices or in no religion at all."
Baez said his greatest joys in life are seeing his family happy and being able to help others feel closer to God and their families.
A key aspect of Baez’s ministry and work to help others is self-improvement.
“Every day I am looking for ways to improve myself to be more prepared to help people to meet their spiritual needs, whether it is completing my doctoral degree, my BSRT (Building Strong & Ready Teams) training or anything else that provides me the necessary tools to elevate my skills to do my job the best way possible,” said Baez.
Baez’s advice to Soldiers is “to try their best to be connected with their family and their God.
“Material things come and go,” said Baez. “Rank and positions are very valuable, but we should value people more, and at the end of the road God, family and friends are the ones who will remain in your life.”
The mission of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps is to provide religious support and advise on matters of spirituality and religion to build strong, ready teams to deploy, fight, and win our Nation’s wars as a unique and necessary branch of the Total Army that is fully engaged in joint and multidomain operations in war and peace.