July 23, 2017 –
JOINT BASE MCGUIRE-DIX-LAKEHURST, N.J. – Army chaplain (Maj.) Timothy Elliott might not be where he is today without the support of his family.
In 1992, Elliott became a second-generation service member when he enlisted into the Navy Reserve, following in the footsteps of his father.
“I was drawn to that culture and the history. As a history buff, I had done a lot of reading and knew about naval warfare. It fit my lifestyle at the time,” he said when asked about joining the Navy and not the Army.
Elliott discharged in 2000 but started to look at coming back in just a few years later.
“My last year in seminary, I ran into a guy and he said ‘you know the military needs chaplains,’” recalled Elliott. “I hadn’t really thought about it. Before I knew it, the lord was really working on me to head that direction.
“I started working towards being a Navy chaplain because that’s what I knew but they really didn’t need protestant chaplains at the time,” he continued.
“As I looked at the philosophy of the ministry across the branches, the Army was more in-line with what I am. It’s a little more focused on wanting to be out with the Soldiers on a day-to-day basis,” he added.
In 2006, Elliott returned to service as a Soldier.
“My wife, who had no exposure to the military before she met me, to my surprise, was very supportive when I discussed with her my desire to return to service and go into chaplaincy,” he said.
“She told me ‘this would be a good fit for you,’” he added.
Elliott currently serves as the Strong Bonds program manager for the U.S. Army Reserve’s 99th Regional Support Command headquartered here. Strong Bonds is a chaplain-led program that helps Soldiers and their families build relationship resiliency through an interactive, nationally accredited curriculum.
These days, he travels around the 99th’s 13-state area of responsibility conducting monthly Strong Bonds events for single and married Soldiers, as well as families.
Elliott’s own family is often at the events with him.
“I’ve done a lot of temporary duty over the last couple of years. When there is an opportunity to take my kids along and introduce them to what I do, I grab that opportunity,” he said.
“They love being a part of it. I get great feedback from the instructors when my kids help setup at the events,” said Elliott.
The core mission of the Strong Bonds program is to increase individual Soldier and Family member readiness through relationship education and skills training. The format provides a safe and secure environment to address the impact of relocations, deployments, and military lifestyle stressors.
The three-day events are provided at no cost to the service member and their family. You can find more information about the program at strongbonds.org