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August 13, 2010

Community

New garrison chaplain begins duties

By Rob Schuette, Public Affairs Staff

Fort McCoy’s new garrison chaplain plans to use his Reserve and active-duty experience, including six short deployments, and commitment to God to serve the Fort McCoy community.

PHOTO: Chaplain (Col.) Ken Lawson
Lawson

Chaplain (Col.) Ken Lawson came to Fort McCoy from Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico, where he served as the garrison chaplain for three years. Lawson said his service at Fort Buchanan helped prepare him to serve at Fort McCoy as its command structure is similar to that at Fort McCoy, with a senior commander general officer and a garrison commander colonel.

“Fort McCoy was my first choice to relocate to,” Lawson said. “This is the place God has for me to use my gifts and abilities to help the Soldiers who are going to deploy.”

Lawson began his military service as an enlisted member of the Army National Guard in 1979, serving for six years. After completing seminary studies, he received a direct commission and attended a three-month Chaplain Officer Basic Course in 1990. He served as a chaplain in the Army Reserve for 11 years while a civilian pastor before he entered the Active Guard/Reserve program in 1999 and completed the orientation training at Fort McCoy. Lawson also had another brief experience at Fort McCoy when he attended Senior Unit Ministry Team (UMT) orientation training in 2003.

After receiving his seminary degree, Lawson went on to obtain his doctorate degree in U.S. History and is a published author having written 10 books on religious or military themes. The Army chief of chaplains also has asked him to write a number of articles to inform everyone in the Army community about religious topics.

Lawson said his experience as a Reserve chaplain balancing military and civilian church commitments will help him provide counsel and career advice to reserve-component chaplains who may face future deployments.

As he completes his first month on the job at McCoy, Lawson said he is learning what the Religious Support Office (RSO) does well and looking at areas that can be improved. “Fortunately, I have a mature, experienced staff here that I can rely on for guidance,” he said. “We already have a number of chaplains coming to the office for advice.”

Lawson said one of his goals will be to improve all the physical properties the RSO program has, including the upkeep of the facilities, landscaping, etc.

“The Lord owns the buildings, and everything has to look its best,” Lawson said. “It has to be a comfortable, relaxing and sacred space.”

Renovations on Chapel 1 (Protestant), building 2672, recently were completed. The RSO is waiting for final approval to use the facility.

Chaplain Lawson stated that the three most important events of his life were getting right with God, marrying his wife almost 25 years ago, and becoming an Army chaplain.

On July 22, Lawson conducted his first UMT training for all chaplains and chaplain assistants at Fort McCoy. Lawson expected about 10-12 people to attend, and was pleased when 40 showed up for the training.

For more information about Fort McCoy’s RSO program, call 608-388-3528.

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