'Vanguard' Battalion Chaplain Stresses Community Support
(February 17, 2011)
|BAGHDAD (Feb. 14, 2011) — In the military, support comes from many places. Capt. Dennis Jenson, chaplain with 1st “Vanguard” Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center and a Fergus Falls, Minn., native, works with soldiers in his unit, attempting to promote community amongst them.|
|“Community is the support of other people that share the same set of principles or beliefs,” said Jenson.|
The chaplain offers his service in multiple ways—through religious services, Bible study, individual counseling and organizing care packages for soldiers. This duty of looking after soldiers' welfare reaches all of the joint security stations where Vanguards reside.
Jenson travels to all of the locations where the Vanguard soldiers live, offering the support that they need during the deployment and ensuring they feel part of the greater “Vanguard Nation.”
Experience gained in his personal life has helped Jenson relate to soldiers and their
Capt. Dennis Jenson, at podium, chaplain with 1st Battalion, 18th Infantry Regiment, 2nd Advise and Assist Brigade, 1st Infantry Division, United States Division – Center and a Fergus Falls, Minn., native, reads from scripture at Sunday church service Feb. 6, 2011 at Camp Taji, Iraq.
|families. Jenson grew up in a military family with his father serving 20 years in the Navy. This lifestyle offered a first-hand experience of the sacrifice families make for their country, Jenson said. |
|Before going to seminary and becoming the Vanguard Battalion chaplain, Jenson served in the Army from 1990-1993 as a supply clerk for a basic training unit at Fort Jackson, S.C. Even then, he understood the importance of community and supported other soldiers the best way he could. |
“I didn't have a supply sergeant for a while; basically I was [the supply sergeant]. Whenever soldiers took a break and came to me I would play Christian music and talk with them,” Jenson said. In this position, he spent time with soldiers at basic training and offered spiritual support to new soldiers when they had time away from training.
Leaving active duty in 1993, Jenson went home and started college while in the Inactive Ready Reserves. He finished his degree from Northwestern College in Minnesota around the same time his commitment to military service ended.
“While finishing my seminary degree and afterwards I was working as a pastor part time helping out,” Jenson said. He always offered his time working with the church and after finishing college was looking for a full time position as a pastor, he said.
The opportunity came when he was offered a two-year position at a Korean church in Minnesota as its English-speaking pastor. Near the end of his two years with the Korean church, he knew he was going to need to find a new place to work. Through a network of friends, a new opportunity arose.
“I wasn't thinking about the chaplaincy, per se, but God just opened doors and brought certain people into my life,” Jenson said. A friend who was going into the chaplaincy gave him the idea, he said.
Jenson's positive past experiences in the military, combined with the fact that his church offered sponsorship into the chaplaincy program, influenced his decision. In 2010, Jenson returned to active duty as a chaplain.
“It was more of a transitioning from one ministry to a different kind of ministry,” Jenson said. “This is a chance to minister in a different environment—I get to focus on soldiers.”
“God opened the door in my heart to the opportunity to come back and serve as a Full-Time pastor, being the chaplain has been good, and I'm glad for the opportunity,” Jenson said. “It's been amazing to watch how God works in our lives.”
|Article and photo by Army Spc. William K. Ermatinger|
2nd AAB, 1st Inf. Div., USD-C
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