BAGHDAD - When soldiers deploy around the world, far from home, in harm's way, many look to their faith to help them though. The military's ministry follows them to ensure chaplains are there when they are needed. Victory Base Complex in Iraq is no different as the soldiers of the 149th Maneuver Enhancement Brigade have their own faithful followers.
"This is where we are really able to help," said Staff Sgt. Troy Golden, a chaplain's assistant with Headquarters and Headquarters Company, 149th MEB. "We are out here to bring God to the troops and the troops to God."
Golden, a Shepherdsville, Ky., native, is one of a few chaplain assistants deployed with the brigade to Iraq in support of Operation New Dawn. It is his third deployment, all three times to Iraq. Previously he was a truck driver, spending long lonesome trips on the supply routes running through the country. He now has the task of interacting with other soldiers daily, all the while following his job description, which as he puts; 'is to facilitate the commander's religious support and ensure every soldier has an opportunity to worship, no matter their religious preference.'
Chaplains and their assistants are in charge of religious services of course, but also provide counseling for soldiers on a wide variety of topics. The teams keep up with what is called ministry of presence, where they take the church to the troops, wherever they may be. At VBC, the teams have visited soldiers in security patrols and entry control points surrounding the post.
"If soldiers make a request to see us, we make the time to be there," said Golden.
When you walk into his office, its hard not feel the tranquility in the air. He said he always plays music in the background, places small dishes of candy on his desk and makes smiley faces out of magnets on a wall locker.
"I want to create an accepting environment where soldiers feel comfortable and feel welcome, and I like to make people smile," he said. "When soldiers need a chaplain, they come to the church, and we have to be here."
Time spent in his cheerful office and visits to troops fill the week pretty well he said. He remains positive always and is happy to spend time with other soldiers sharing his own smiling face and a few prayers.
"My faith in God gets me through the day, and it did through my other deployments and will on this one as well," he said.
Golden acknowledges that is hard being away from family, he has six children back home and cannot wait to hug and kiss each one when he returns. However, when asked if he would deploy again, Golden immediately said yes.
"I feel that the ministry at home is good, on drill weekends and such," he said. "But this is where ministry really hits soldiers, while deployed."