Chaplain (Col.) Sean Lee of the Maryland National Guard reflects on Memorial Day

Prominently displayed in Chaplain (Col.) Sean Lee’s office is a Maryland map with pushpins representing each faith community which has joined the Partners in Care program.

Listen to Chaplain Lee tell his story of passion for military chaplaincy and how it touches people’s lives. (15:19)

On Memorial Day, Chaplain (Col.) Sean Lee of the Maryland National Guard will find himself at Dulaney Valley Gardens cemetery, as he has for the last 13 years, linking arms with family members of our nation’s fallen soldiers.

“When they take my arm, they don’t see me, but what I represent,” Lee said in reflection.

Endorsed by American Baptist Home Mission Societies, Lee has served in his role as the Joint Force Headquarters chaplain for the Maryland National Guard since June 2002. He manages the provision of religious and spiritual support for more than 6,700 Maryland National Guard members and their families.

“A lot [of military members] will never go to a local church, but because chaplains are embedded with the units, we deploy with them, we’re there with them, we become the first line of response,” he said. “Because we’re there with them, we earn their trust.”

In 2005, Lee launched the Partners in Care initiative. This program, which links faith communities with members of the Maryland National Guard who are in need, currently includes 87 congregations representing 16 different religious groups and faiths.

When Lee becomes aware of a National Guard community member who is struggling, his office matches that guardsmen with a participating local faith community. Congregations have provided emotional support, goods and services, groceries and even apartment deposits in a few instances.

“We have people who may be a couple hours from the closest [Veterans Administration office], but there’s a congregation [in their community],” he said. “I’m a firm believer in what God does through the local congregation. I try and connect guardsmen back to faith communities to have that source of support.”

Learn more about American Baptist Home Mission Societies’ Chaplaincy and Pastoral Counseling Ministries.

Partners in Care resources