When a Reserve chaplain needed help meeting her monthly training requirement, Redstone Arsenal answered the call.
Chaplain (1st Lt.) Dwan Contreras assisted at Bicentennial Chapel for four days, Dec. 18-21. This made up for two months’ worth of drills – three days in November and one day in December – in Baton Rouge, Louisiana.
Contreras, a Huntsville resident, is a battalion chaplain at the 321st Sustainment Battalion which is under the 321st Sustainment Brigade in Baton Rouge.
“I appreciate the flexibility and the willingness for the team here to allow me to do my training here,” she said.
In November her monthly drill was canceled because of lack of funding for travel outside a 50-mile radius with the potential for a government shutdown. She missed the scheduled day in December because she had schoolwork that had to be completed that date.
“I would’ve driven the 500 miles down and 500 miles up (between Baton Rouge),” she said.
Seeking a solution to meeting her battle assembly requirement, Contreras called Bicentennial Chapel and explained her dilemma to Garrison Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Matt Madison. He welcomed another chaplain for four days.
“It’s a unique opportunity – first experience for me,” Madison said. “And I think it’s a chance to show that we are one Army and so compo (components) two and three are just as important to the mission as active duty. So, looking forward to a good week.”
Contreras, 35, from El Paso, Texas, has lived in Huntsville since October 2021. She has been in the Army for 15 years and entered the Reserve in October 2014. She was commissioned to the chaplain candidate program in October 2021 and accessioned as a chaplain in June 2023.
“I’ve always been in the Chaplain Corps,” said Contreras, who served on active duty from 2008-14. Before entering the chaplain candidate program, she was a staff sergeant and religious affairs NCO.
“I felt it was a call from God,” she said. “I never had military chaplaincy or the military on my radar. As a young teenager I thought I was going to go as a missionary to Mexico or some Spanish-speaking country.”
Her husband of 12 years, Miguel, works for Boeing in Huntsville. They originally met as Soldiers at the chapel in Fort Drum, New York, in 2009 and then deployed together. Miguel served five years in the Army and left as a specialist.
A Texas Baptist, Contreras enjoys running and playing guitar. Her civilian job is serving as a care coordinator with the children’s mobile crisis team for WellStone in Cullman.