CCAD welcomes new chaplain

By Kathleen Pettaway-ClarkeFebruary 22, 2024

CCAD welcomes new chaplain
1 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – The depot recently welcomed Chaplain (Capt.) Dennis Ohiku as its first Army chaplain. (Photo Credit: Ervey Martinez) VIEW ORIGINAL
CCAD welcomes new chaplain
2 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Chaplain Ohiku gives invocation at the AAAA 18th Luther G. Jones Army Aviation Depot Forum. (Photo Credit: Ervey Martinez) VIEW ORIGINAL
CCAD welcomes new chaplain
3 / 3 Show Caption + Hide Caption – Chaplain (Capt.) Dennis Ohiku greets an artisan. (Photo Credit: Ervey Martinez) VIEW ORIGINAL

CORPUS CHRISTI ARMY DEPOT — The depot recently welcomed Chaplain (Capt.) Dennis Ohiku as its first Army chaplain; his assignment is part of Corpus Christi Army Depot’s health improvement program, which strives for continuous organizational excellence and efficiency.

Ohiku said he aims to help improve employees' success, enhance workforce resiliency, and provide confidential counseling. The chaplain's door is also open to provide spiritual counseling, relationship counseling and professional support.

"One of the singular privileges I have cherished so far is the opportunity to serve in the American Army; because of my service with them, I can categorically say the United States is still in good hands," Ohiku said.

The Army chaplaincy is a multi-faith program providing spiritual, religious, and moral support during crises. Ohiku is a member of The Church of Jesus Christ Latter Day Saints. As an Army chaplain, he serves, supports, and provides for the needs of all CCAD employees regardless of their faith or religious denomination. In matters of religion, Ohiku said: "Nobody has the right to judge you — I feel strongly about that."

Ohiku believes his calling is to serve and support all CCAD employees.

In 2021, the rate of suicide among military personnel in Alaska increased, with 17 Soldiers taking their own lives. In response, the Army created a program called "Mission 100" and mobilized Army chaplains to Alaska to help — Ohiku was one of the 22 Army chaplains who volunteered to serve in Alaska.

The increased numbers of Army chaplains and spiritual leadership in Alaska reduced the waiting time for counseling, improved the crisis management skills of Soldiers and reduced the suicide rates among service members.

"That's what I'm trained to do," Ohiku said. "I volunteered to go to Alaska because it is very dark during winter with only two hours of sunlight. So, because of that, a lot of Soldiers became depressed, resulting in extremely high suicide rates."

Ohiku is originally from Nigeria. In addition to speaking English, he speaks three other languages fluently. The chaplain speaks Spanish because of his missionary service in Spain, and native African languages Esan, Benin and piggin English.

In the Army, chaplains must have a master's degree in divinity or theology. Ohiku has a master's degree in divinity and a second in education, specializing in corporate and adult training. He also has a bachelor’s degree in communication from Utah Valley University and another in English language from Brigham Young University.

Prospective faith leaders must complete faith-based requirements from both the Department of Defense and religious organizations before receiving a religious endorsement to serve within the military chaplaincy.

Ohiku went through a rigorous process beginning with the local church that prepared him for interviews with his Bishop, Stake President, and General Authority Seventies to receive an endorsement from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints. Additionally, he had to meet specific church requirements and pass a psychological personality evaluation to ensure he had the spiritual qualities required to serve as an Army chaplain.

"My entire life, I've seen [God's] hands and in so many experiences that I can't enumerate — so many," he said.

As an active-duty service member, he said he feels CCAD is the right place for him at this time in his life.

"I don't plan to leave here,” he said. “Except [if] the Lord has a different plan. I make my plans; God is the only one that can veto my plans."

The chaplain position in the U.S. Armed Forces is that of a non-combatant commissioned officer who is charged with providing religious services and spiritual support to fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen, Marines and Coast Guardsmen. It also supports service members' families and DoD employees. Chaplains serve as messengers of hope when the United States is at war or experiencing challenging national crises; they are also responsible for advising military commanders on morale, staff and ethical issues.

In 1776, the Continental Congress approved having chaplains in each regiment. The intent was to make the blessings and protections of heaven available, especially during wartime, public distress and challenging personal crises.

The vision of the Army Chaplain Corps for 2030 is to build the Army's spiritual readiness by investing in people, connecting them spiritually and cultivating our community.