A Sailor's Higher Calling
by U.S. Navy Petty Officer 1st Class Taylor Jackson
December 6, 2022
“Call to serve,” is a common phrase among military members. It refers to the desire to dedicate your life in service of others. For many, it is a driving factor in their decision to take that first step into a recruiter’s office. For one Sailor, this phrase has been a constant presence in career, and life in general.
November 21, 2022 - Engineman 1st Class Brent Wagner sits in his recruiter office with a crucifix on the wall behind him at Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) Richmond. His Navy service at NTAG has lead him further along the path to ministry. (Image created by USA Patriotism! from U.S. Navy photo by Petty Officer 1st Class Taylor Jackson.)
“It always felt like God was telling me to join,” said Engineman 1st Class Brent Wagner. “In my earlier jobs, I always liked wearing a uniform, and I knew I wanted to be part of something bigger than myself.
A deeply religious person, Wagner sought guidance from fellow churchgoers in deciding his path of enlistment. Following the advice of a retired Navy captain, he enlisted in the Navy Reserves in 2015. After reporting to boot camp, Wagner felt the call to serve yet again. This time, it was his religious faith calling.
“While I was in boot camp, I started spreading the word of God,” said Wagner. “A few of the guys in my division asked me if I ever thought about being a chaplain. At the time, I wasn’t sure about it. After boot camp, I went back home and started leading youth ministry. It really clicked for me then that this is what I wanted to do.”
In 2018, he made the decision to do an active-duty tour as a recruiter. He reported to Navy Talent Acquisition Group (NTAG) Richmond where he served as a prior service recruiter. During this time, his Navy service would lead him further along the path to ministry.
Upon learning about his involvement with the church and his pursuit of a Master of Divinity, NTAG Richmond leadership transferred Wagner to an officer recruiter station to serve as a chaplain recruiter.
“To me, being able to provide the Navy with faith leaders means providing the Sailors with leaders who can support them through the challenges that come with military service,” said Wagner. “It’s allowing Sailors to have moral guides in difficult situations, and if I’m not doing my part by getting them out there, it hurts the team as a whole.”
Chief Boatswain’s Mate Megan Miller, leading chief petty officer of Navy Officer Recruiting Station Virginia Beach, praised Wagner’s dedication to the recruiting mission.
“Petty Officer Wagner is an awesome Sailor to work with,” said Miller. “He has a gentle personality, but is a fierce and resourceful chaplain recruiter.”
Wagner finished his Master of Divinity in 2021. He currently serves as an associate pastor at his church, and he continues to work diligently as a recruiter while he pursues his goal of becoming a chaplain.
“As a recruiter, it brings me a lot of joy to put people in the Navy,” said Wagner. “They’re not just getting all the benefits; they’re getting a family too. It’s great to be a part of this.”
Navy Recruiting Command consists of a command headquarters, two Navy Recruiting Regions and 26 Navy Talent Acquisition Groups that serve more than 815 recruiting stations across the world. Their combined goal is to attract the highest quality candidates to assure the ongoing success of America’s Navy.
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