MARINE CORPS AIR STATION CHERRY POINT, N.C. -- Lt. Cmdr. Paul Greer was notified of his selection as the recipient of the 2016 Military Chaplains Association Distinguished Service Award at Marine Corps Air Station Cherry Point, June 1.
The award is presented to one chaplain from each branch of service for exemplifying the highest standards of the military and the Chaplain Corps. Greer, chaplain for Marine Aircraft Control Group 28, was selected from a wide range of nominees to represent the Marine Corps as Chaplain of the Year.
“We have been blessed with outstanding chaplains and religious program specialists at 2nd MAW,” said Capt. Russel Graef, wing chaplain for 2nd MAW. “Greer and Lt. Cmdr. Brian L. Jacobson are two chaplains that have done especially outstanding ministry here.”
The 2015 recipient of the award was former Marine Aircraft Group 29 Chaplain Jacobson.
Graef submitted the nomination package that included letters of recommendation from the MACG-28 commanding officer and the 2nd MAW commanding general. The nomination also provided a listed Greer’s accomplishments which included spiritual guidance for over 2,700 Marines and Sailors, mentoring junior chaplains, and organizing group retreats through the Command Religious Program.
“What I do is just the tip of the iceberg in what so many other chaplains do, day-in and day-out, in places that nobody ever hears about,” said Greer. “Much of it is intangible and immeasurable, and I am thankful for the opportunity to show all of the work that our enlisted members and chaplain colleagues do.”
According to Greer, he felt a divine calling to be a Navy Chaplain following the events of Sept. 11.
“While being a professional firefighter in Greensboro, N.C., I studied in ministries and worked in a small church at the same time,” said Greer. “We had just come back from a medical emergency call. As we pulled into the station, I saw the TV in the kitchen as the second plane hit the World Trade Center. I soon realized it was a terrorist attack and how serious the situation was."
Greer states he came into the military for what he believes was a clear calling from God to serve as a Navy Chaplain.
Greer states one of the most challenging parts of his job is managing the emotional price chaplains pay every day guiding others through their hardships.
“While taking care of so many other people’s needs, sometimes we forget to take care of ourselves,” said Greer. “Our deep sense of empathy and genuine care when we walk through life with others can be spiritually draining. I try to make sure that good self-care takes place and that I have avenues to work with my colleagues to receive care from them as well.”
Greer credits his success to the many partnerships the chaplains have with each other and with other programs in the Marine Corps, such as Marine Corps Family Team Building, military family life counselors, family readiness officers and unit commanders. For Greer, one of the most rewarding aspects of his job is sharing life experiences with service members and their families.
“They allow me the most intimate details of their lives and that’s a sacred trust,” said Greer. “It all comes down to caring for our folks, and it is an incredible privilege to walk the road of life with them.”