From Special Ops To Spiritual Ops
by U.S. Air National Guard Airman 1st Class Daniel Meade
From special operations to spiritual operations, 1st Lt. Steven
Doyan, a resident of Batavia N.Y. and the newest chaplain of the New
York Air National Guard’s 107th Attack Wing, has seen it all.
The New York Air National Guard 107th Attack Wing enlists 1st Lt. Stephen Doyan, a former Navy SEAL, now a Chaplain. He is one of three chaplains at the wing and will serve to focus on Airmen and unit resiliency. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Brandy Fowler)
In January of 1992, Doyan joined the U.S. Navy. He served first
as a Navy rescue swimmer and after three years, earned the right to
wear the badge of a Navy Seal. In 2005 he left the Navy and became a
New York State Trooper.
Doyan said he’s had amazing
experiences and opportunities He said that the things he’s done and
seen during his Navy career give him common ground with the Airmen
of the 107th.
“It shows people that I'm real and that I've
gone through some things,” He said.
Doyan said that his path
to joining the 107th is a story about resilience, a story about
coming back from what seems like the edge. His story started years
prior to even joining the Navy.
Doyan said he was born in
Seattle, Washington to a single mother.
He said that he grew
up knowing he wanted to join the Navy and to be a SEAL, but he
wasn't sure if he had the skills to do it. So right after high
school, he enlisted as a Navy Aviation Rescue Swimmer in SH-60
helicopters instead. After three years with his squadron, he applied
for the SEALS qualification course, known as Basic Underwater
Demolition/SEAL (BUD/S) school.
His request was denied. Doyan
recalled that he felt stuck behind a closed door.
Doyan turned to his faith.
“At that point I just did what I
could, and I prayed to God to open that door up,” Doyan said “Within
a week, my commanding officer allowed me to resubmit that package
and it got approved.”
At this point in his life, Doyan said
that he cared very little about his spiritual health. But, because
of his acceptance into BUD/S, he felt he owed it to God to start
So during his training and preparation, Doyan
dedicated Sundays to reading the Bible.
He took what he read
in the Bible to heart, Doyan remembered.
“You get into all
these laws, ‘Don’t do this, don’t do that’, and I really committed
that to my life,” he said, “I started writing everything down, like
what I could and couldn't eat on an index card. I didn’t really know
any better,” he said.
Doyan was so convinced he had to follow
all the rules, he said that he would eat only at a particular
Mediterranean restaurant because it served the kind of food that the
“According to the Bible,” Doyan said,
“That’s what I was supposed to eat.”
After eight years with
the Navy SEALs, Doyan said he had developed a “rockstar” attitude.
He said that even though he believed in God, and that God had helped
get him into the SEALs, he didn't think he needed God anymore.
“I was drinking like a sailor, cussing like a sailor, doing
everything that sailors do,” he said.
Doyan ended his
enlistment as a special operations diving instructor at the Special
Forces Underwater Operations School in Key West, Fla. in December of
With his wife and kids in tow, he transitioned from
military life to becoming a member of the New York State Police. He
enrolled in the Academy in 2005 to join the force.
his career moved forward, Doyan said that his personal life began to
He and his family were having troubles. So they
turned to the church for help.
The God that brought him
through the SEALs, the God that he abandoned, was the only thing
that could save his marriage, Doyan said.
between the extremes of following every religious rule he could
find, to living his life on his own terms, Doyan said he finally
found his faith in the center of it all and his marriage and family
recovered as a result of that.
After graduating from the
State Police Academy, Doyan was assigned to Troop-B in Canton N.Y.
Meanwhile, he had decided to get even more serious about his
faith, and worked to become a minister. He attended Liberty
University Online, to receive a Masters of Divinity degree. After
obtaining more than 100 graduate hours towards his degree, Doyan was
ordained by the Assemblies of God Church, while still working full
time for the state police.
While he was making his faith a
larger part of his life, Doyan moved up in his State Police career,
attending the State Police Special Operations Basic School.
He was reassigned to the State Police Special Operations Response
Team – the New York State Police version of SWAT—in Western New
Doyan said that it was in this new job, that he that
encountered more hardship and built up more personal resiliency.
Trooper Ross Riley, a member of his team, died from a fall he
sustained while participating in training drills at Letchworth State
“It was so quick and so sudden. I was right there with
him,” Doyan said.
As a new minister, Doyan made himself
available to the other Troopers to help them work through the loss.
One of those Troopers was the 107th Attack Wing’s Command
Chief Master Sgt. Edward Stefik.
“Chief Stefik was really
really close to Ross,” Doyan said, “And I was able to help him and a
few other guys through the grieving process.”
Doyan became friends and Stefik introduced him to the idea of
becoming an Air National Guard chaplain.
Doyan, Stefik said,
is a great addition to the 107th’s chaplain team.
have a chaplain team that’s dynamic.” Stefik said. “I picture them
as ‘resiliency avengers.’ They all have their own super powers!”
Stefik said that combining Lt. Doyans unique experiences, with
the already well structured chaplaincy of the 107th Attack Wing,
means that they can reach a new group of people. He can also help
Airmen develop resiliency and continue to develop the resiliency to
get them through the hard times, Stefik said.
to serve the N.Y. State Police during the week, while also
dedicating his time to his non-profit, Truth Ministries John 14:6.
This ministry helps the community of Batavia, by delivering
toiletries to those who can't afford them.
said he’s here to do whatever he can for the Airmen of the 107th.
“I can tell you that I’m all in,” he said, “I want to serve as
much as I can, 100 percent.”
Our Valiant Troops |
Citizens Like Us
U.S. Air Force |
Air National Guard
U.S. Air Force Gifts |