Rodriguez thumbTen mile march with full gear? No problem.

Night infiltration course? Bring it on.

Scaling a 34-foot obstacle? Watch how I do it. You can do it too.

Chaplain Dustin Rodriguez, a basic training brigade chaplain at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., says his favorite place to be is in the field with the troops. Having served two deployments in Afghanistan, he is well aware of the challenges of a combat zone. At Leonard Wood he enjoys going through all phases of physical training with the trainees on easy days and difficult days—matching their efforts, encouraging them, cheering them on, setting an example. Occasionally it is his cheerful banter or helping hand that gets a trainee through a particularly difficult exercise. His commander says he has thought several times, “This would be a good time for the chaplain to be around,” only to hear Rodriguez’s laughter and realize the chaplain is already with them.

Rodriguez says he does these things to earn the right to share his faith in Christ with the soldiers. The drill instructors are happy to send trainees to him for counsel, and come to him themselves. His tours in Afghanistan (15 months in 2007­­­­–08 and 12 months in 2009–10) and his participation in training make him “one of us” and trustworthy for counseling for post-traumatic stress disorder issues, marital problems, and other conflicts.

The Army’s chaplaincy motto is “Bringing God to soldiers and soldiers to God.” Dustin Rodriguez is “bringing God” all the way through boot camp with gusto.