FORT HOOD, Texas -- Staff Sgt. Tracy Lostaunau is no stranger to a life of service. He is a mobilized Army Reserve Soldier who currently works as a chaplain's assistant and logistics and administrative NCO with First Army Division West's chaplain's section.

Since 1985, serving the Army has been a priority for Lostaunau, but now he is reaching for a life of service in the Christian ministry.

"It's really a calling, not just a career," Lostaunau said. "Not a lot of people can do this. First, you have to have a desire and, second, you have a need to do it."

Lostaunau is an online student with Liberty University, the largest evangelical Christian university in the world, working toward his Master of Divinity degree in chaplaincy.

His civilian schooling is another stepping stone to his ultimate goal of being a minister, yet he still seeks to serve his country further.

"I plan to complete my degree by February 2013 so that I may apply to be an Army Reserve chaplain," Lostaunau said. "I'm looking forward to a dual-sided ministry; it will be the best of both worlds."

Also, to become an Army chaplain, he must make the transition from a noncommissioned officer to a commissioned officer. As part of his transition, he must attend the Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course, a 12-week course at Fort Jackson, S.C.

"What I've learned as an NCO, especially from Division West, will help me in the chaplaincy," Lostaunau said. "I feel it will give me an edge."

Military experience is applicable and parallels very well with the life of a minister, Lostaunau said.

"Even in the Bible, it says as a Christian, we are Soldiers in God's army," he said.

Being a Soldier has provided Lostaunau the means to achieve his goal of entering the ministry. Completing his degree will give him a wider arsenal of skills and abilities for his future.

"Now that the first stage of my education is coming to a close, I feel equipped to become a minister," Lostaunau said. "Just like a Soldier who wants to be trained before going to battle, I want to be trained for my new task."

Although military and civilian schools utilize technical and book knowledge, one also needs practical experience to become a good minister, Lostaunau said.

"Life has been the best teacher," Lostaunau said. "The better you have navigated through life, the better minister you will be."

Many young people complete school and go straight into the ministry, but some choose other routes, Lostaunau said. Since the age of 19, he has known that he would lead a life of service to the Lord as a minister. However, life led him down a different path leading to the same destination.

"I've gotten a later start in my pursuit of being a minister, but it has allowed time to develop my character," he said. "I've raised a Family, worked jobs and done many things that would prepare me for the ministry."

Lostaunau has been married for 17 years and has two daughters. He feels that his life experiences will enhance his future role as a minister and chaplain.

"As a chaplain's assistant, I've spent many years counseling marriages," he said, "and because I have a successful marriage and successful children, I'm able to help others do the same."

Lostaunau knows that a minister must wear many hats and have a broad range of knowledge to be competent and effective.

"It's not just about preaching and teaching," he said. "A minister has to do operations, logistics, administration and counseling."

With all these different roles and duties, a minister must be a person of worth and a receptive temperament as well.

"Ministry calls for a lot of maturity and tests in life," Lostaunau said. "All of us must get tested in the fire with our character. You need good character and integrity to be a good minister and chaplain."

As Lostaunau comes closer to achieving his dream, he must step from one world to another.

"After my mobilization with Division West," he said, "I will go on to become an assistant pastor or do clinical pastoral work with a hospital, alongside becoming an Army Reserve chaplain."

He will leave Division West, where he has served for the past four years.

"He will be leaving some big shoes to fill," said Chap. (Maj.) Eric Smith, a Division West plans and operations chaplain. "Staff Sgt. Lostaunau has a very caring heart, is service-oriented and will serve out of the goodness of his heart because he enjoys ministering to others."

When asked what he was expecting upon entering his future position as a minister and chaplain, his response was that of a true citizen-Soldier.

"I'm very excited about going into the ministry," Lostaunau said. "It's all about serving others, and that's something that the military teaches also. I serve God, my Family and my country."