BARKSDALE AFB, LA (KSLA) - When considering a career in the Air Force, it is natural to think of being a pilot or an aircrew member. However, there is a job that serves every career field — regardless of the time of day or night.
A chaplain at Barksdale Air Force shares his unique path to ministry.
“I was a professional dancer who worked in Las Vegas, and so I worked on the strip," said Capt. Mitchell Holley. “I did not take my clothes off for money (laughs).”
In the middle of Sin City — Holley chose love.
“I heard my call to ministry while I was there. I remember going through some situations and God said hey look I love them and so I wanted to take that wherever I went.”
Contemplating a life as a missionary, Holley enrolled in seminary school.
“When I was in my first semester they had some recruiters come out and I said I would like to sign up as a chaplain candidate, and from that point on I joined the Air Force 2006.”
It’s only fitting he was given the call sign, or nickname ‘Vegas.’
Unlike civilian clergy, military chaplains, are a unique group. Besides being ordained, they are also commissioned officers in the U.S. Chaplain Corps.
“At a hospital you know you’re going to be visiting folks who are sick, and you’re going to be taking care of the staff. If you’re a pastor at a church or synagogue you’ve got the regular things that you just kind of expect, but in the military it’s always an adventure.”
It’s adventure allowing him to minister here at home and around the world, wherever he’s needed.
“I want people to know who their chaplain is, that they care for them that there’s a place they can go and talk to you no matter what’s going on in their life, it’s a safe space and we’ll be there to listen to you, to encourage you, to help guide you if you want.”
For nearly 12 years, Holley has offered hope, encouragement and kindness to those in uniform and their families.
“I love getting to do it. I get to talk to airmen no matter what their faith background is or lack there of, I get to talk to them and find out what’s going on and just being able to have that human connection, to be able to hear their personal stories and with my faith understanding being able to connect that in the bigger picture is just awe-inspiring .”
Helping others find peace through spiritual strength.
"For people who have a spiritual component or believe in a higher power, being connected to that something that's greater than yourself something that, when your willpower just fails because you're exhausted and everything else what else is going to take you to the next level? what else is going to help you survive? but if they're not a person of faith then we can connect them to a group or just get them connected socially like-minded folks how can we help them? It's all important."
Providing a loving heart, a listening ear and a helping hand for all.