Army Chaplain Ellison (left) and his family.
by Lisa Crockett
Being in the Army Reserves usually means serving your country two days a month and two weekends a year. It was a comfortable arrangement for Chaplain James Ellison (Col.), a Castle Pines North (CPN) resident who was busy in his work as a chaplain, supporting his wife, Misoo, who was furthering her career as a statistics professor and also taking part in raising his two young daughters, Jami, nine, and Ami, four.
Four years ago when our country went to war, Chaplain Ellison and his family had to make some changes.
“I got called up to active duty, so I live at Fort Carson during the week and then come home on weekends,” said Ellison.
Ellison and his fellow chaplains spend their time seeing to the pastoral needs of all the soldiers at Fort Carson, regardless of their religious affiliation. That service takes many forms – counseling, arranging for religious services, the occasional wedding – but in times of war, much of the Chaplain’s time is filled comforting families when a soldier is killed.
Ellison has traveled the country attending the funerals of fallen soldiers. His travels have taken him to several different states and even a few foreign countries. Along the way, Ellison has met dignitaries and government leaders, including many governors around the country.
“I was particularly impressed with Governor Mitt Romney,” said Ellison. “During the funeral procession people were waving at him, but he didn’t wave back. He wanted the focus to be on the soldier, not on him.”
Ellison, who received his seminary training at Andrews University in Michigan, said he is consistently impressed with the quality and character of those who have chosen to serve our country.
“I recently counseled an 18-year-old soldier who was headed off to combat and told me he was scared,” said Ellison. “He told me that after 9/11 he had felt he really wanted to defend our country. When you think about the things most 18 year olds are doing, that’s impressive. I told him how proud I was of his honor and patriotism.”
After four years of active duty, Ellison is now back on reserve status, two days a week and two weekends a year. He is eager to resume his career working as a hospital chaplain – hopefully at a hospital close to home. He is looking forward to more time with family and less time on the road. Still, he is glad he will be able to continue his work in the military on a part-time basis, running a widows’ group at Fort Carson and training new chaplains.
“It’s an interesting task,” said Ellison. “I love the challenge of working in a secular environment and ministering to the needs of people of all types of faith – or no faith at all.”