CH (CPT) Leslie Nelson
U.S. Army, National Guard
Serving as a Georgia National Guard Chaplain has been amazing! I have been able to deploy with the best soldiers in the world to some of the world's most war torn places. I went to Afghanistan with the 48th Infantry Brigade Combat Team (IBCT) in 2009-2010. Upon my return from Afghanistan, I began working with soldiers and their families in the reintegration process. I work full-time as the J9, Joint and Family Services Directorate Chaplain, which is a long name with a long list of duties, but I get the honor of helping military families through the entire deployment process and beyond. I do counseling and teach classes, and I get to travel to the demobilization sites to meet our Georgia Guardsman as they return from theater. I also get to work with many organizations throughout the community in order to help citizens understand the needs of our returning service members and their loved ones. I am always so amazed at how much our communities desire to care for our service members!
Although my career has been short, it has been very full. I have been delighted to perform weddings for many of our soldiers, and privileged to perform funerals, as well. I have given dozens of invocations and taught hundreds of classes. On September 11, 2007, I was chosen to pray at the Joint Force Headquarters Flagpole. In 2008, before the 48th IBCT deployed, I participated in a 48-mile in 48 hours road march from the Georgia National Cemetery in Canton, Georgia, to Centennial Park in downtown Atlanta...yes, I had a few blisters at the end! I was the guest speaker at a Sexual Assault Awareness Month Prayer Breakfast and the moderator for a community showing of a movie on the hardships of deployment. In 2013, I was asked to be the Georgia National Guard representative for an Atlanta Braves Military Appreciation Event at Turner Field, in which Patient Airlift Services (PAL) brought several wounded warriors from Walter Reed Army Medical Center. It was an amazing experience to see how resilient and happy these men, who had suffered such tremendous wounds, were; spending the evening with them changed my life. At that game, I was selected to throw out the first pitch, which was one of the highlights of my life, but it paled in comparison to spending time with men who made such immeasurable sacrifices for our country.
If you haven't figured it out...I love being a chaplain!