FORT BLISS, Texas –
Sgt. Joshua Wheaton, a native of Traverse City, Michigan, is a religious affairs noncommissioned officer currently serving at Fort Bliss, Texas with the 647th Regional Support Group (Forward), Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade as the unit ministry team NCO. Headquartered in El Paso, Texas, Fort Bliss is the second-largest installation in the Army, serves as a Mobilization Force Generation Installation, and supports the Joint Force by deploying and redeploying service members and Department of Defense civilians and contractors to five combatant commands.
The MFGI’s provides deploying units a safe and intense training environment to complete pre-deployment training and a focused environment to complete demobilization activities. The 647th RSG (Forward) assumed authority of the Fort Bliss Mobilization Brigade in January 2021 and is responsible for managing, planning, and coordinating support services related to mobilization and demobilization. It serves as the pre-mobilization liaison for U.S. Army Reserve and National Guard Soldiers by providing administrative and logistical support prior to, during, and after mobilization.
Wheaton comes from a family rich in military service and is fourth generation Army. He credits his father, a recent Army retiree, for being a mentor and role model.
“I am fourth generation Army,” Wheaton said. “My father just retired after 38 years of service, which honestly made it easier for me to join but it wasn’t the deciding factor. My whole career I have been competing with my father in my head trying to one up him. This has really pushed me to get where I am today and I have a vast knowledge to tap into for any questions or advice I may need. I owe a lot to my father for helping make me the NCO I am today. ”
Wheaton didn’t join the military specifically to follow in the footsteps of his father or other family members. He mainly enlisted for financial assistance with college expenses and to try something new.
“I joined the Army three and a half years ago,” said Wheaton. “I joined to help pay for college and for something new.”
As a religious affairs noncommissioned officer, Wheaton is responsible for supporting the unit ministry team, programs and worship services, while also providing support to the Chaplain during missions and everyday activities.
The mobilization brigade’s footprint expands throughout the vast boundaries of Fort Bliss and service members are located on various ranges and other locations. Wheaton is responsible for maintaining chapels at McGregor Base Camp, Dona Ana Range Complex, and Orogrande Base Camp; and arranging religious coverage for service members.
“My mission is all morale based, I help advise the command on issues that impacts the overall morale of the RSG,” said Wheaton. “It is a no fail mission, meaning no matter what, I get the resources needed to complete the mission.”
One of the essential components of his job is maintaining confidentiality after he speaks with or assists service members and providing protection for the chaplain.
“I’m a confidant, meaning anything that is stated to me by someone stays between us,” said Wheaton. “I also make sure everyone’s religious needs are met and that their rights aren’t being infringed upon.”
Mobilizations and deployments are fast paced, challenging, and can leave little free time for service members. Some service members decompress by playing video games, working out, reading, or learning a new hobby.
“Most weekends I’m wrenching on my car fixing and upgrading things,” said Wheaton, who is an avid car enthusiast. He enjoys spending his free time installing performance parts and making upgrades to his vehicle.
Wheaton is studying various information technology courses and hopes to sit for certification exams prior to the mobilization ending.