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NEWS | Oct. 1, 2013

Chaplain assistant serves as 'jack of all trades'

By Staff Sgt. Wesley Farnsworth 633rd Air Base Wing Public Affairs

Growing up with a life of adversity, living in his car at times was hard for U.S. Army Spc. Stephen Maynus, Fort Eustis chaplain assistant, but one thing that remained constant since middle school was his desire to be a Soldier.

In addition to the desire to join the Army, Maynus wanted to help other people, even if it meant making some sacrifices along the way. But it wasn't until he joined the Army that he found out about the chaplains assistant career field and how it could fulfill both his desire to be a Soldier and to help others.

That desire stayed with him throughout high school, but his family encouraged him to go to college and get his degree first. Deciding to give college a chance, Maynus attended Hudson Valley Community College in Troy, N.Y.

"I really didn't know what I wanted to do besides join the Army, so I was just going to college for a [general] degree," Maynus said. "I thought with the job market the way it was I might be better off in the Army."

In 2010, President Barack Obama  spoke to Maynus's college.

"While I was attending school, he came and gave a speech about patriotism and self sacrifice," Maynus said. "After hearing that speech and talking to the recruiters a bit more, I enlisted."

Maynus joined the Army in 2011 with the intent of becoming an explosive ordnance technician, but instead joined the chaplain assistant corps.

"When I first signed up, I didn't even know the chaplain assistant career field existed," Maynus said. "I reall wasn't sure what to expect."

With just a little over a year in service, Maynus says it has already been a very rewarding experience.

"When I help people, it's very real, and in some cases I can see the impact almost instantly, which is very gratifying" he said.

As a chaplain's assistant, Maynus says he is a "jack of all trades." In addition to the day-to-day tasks that every Soldier has, he also provides many key services to Fort Eustis Soldiers.

"We conduct suicide prevention training and pre-counseling meetings before individuals see the chaplain," Maynus said. "I am also trained to respond and help people who may be dealing with suicidal thoughts."

According to Maynus, though he does not wear the cross on his uniform like a chaplain, he still takes his role very seriously.

"Reputation is the currency of the chaplain corps and being respected is very important," he said. "I'm an extension of my chaplain, and it's rewarding when people trust you to help them even though I don't wear the cross."

Maynus recalls a time when he was preparing to give a prayer before an non-commissioned officer induction ceremony that this trust was put into play.

"We had a break before the ceremony got started and an NCO in the room brought over a Soldier to talk with me," Maynus said. "Their unit had just lost someone and [the Soldier] was taking it hard and needed someone to talk to."

Despite his many duties and the long hours, there is one aspect of the job that Maynus enjoys more than others.

"I love being able to help other people exercise their religion in full," he said. "When I can help others meet their spiritual needs it fulfills me."

Whether helping people meet their spiritual needs or talking to his fellow Soldiers, Maynus knows his work isn't just satisfying - it is a way to give back to the country he loves.