SFC Sigfredo Velezgarcia

Sergeant First Class Sigfredo Velezgarcia is a native of Hatillo, Puerto Rico. He joined the United States Army on 16 October 1978 as a Tanker. Upon graduating Basic Training at Fort Knox, KY. He attended Advanced Individual Training (AIT) at Fort Knox, KY. Military Occupational Skill (MOS) 19D was awarded after his successful completion.

Sergeant First Class Velezgarcia has served in a variety of assignments that include his current position as Senior Chaplain Assistant, Chaplain NCOIC, Army Support Activities (ASA-Dix). Previous Assignments include TPU (Troop Program Unit) position at 266th OD CO (Ordnance Company) 55B (Specialist Ammunition) and 394th QM (Supply and Support), 210 RSC as Chaplain Assistant NCO in Ramey Base Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. First tours as AGR (Active Guard Reserve) Senior Chaplain Assistant for the 1st Mission Support Command (1st MSC) June 2007 at Fort Buchanan Guaynabo, Puerto Rico, and Senior Chaplain Assistant, Chaplain NCOIC, Religious Support Office (RSO) in Fort Hunter Liggett Jolon, California.

Previous to his military duties as AGR (Active Guard Reserve), he served as Correctional Officer in three different local prisons in Puerto Rico for 23 years.

May of 2003, he was mobilized to Tallil Airbase, Iraq with the 394th QM as Chaplain Assistant. He served there from May to April 2004. In 2009 he was mobilized to Bagram Airfield, Afghanistan for 34 days for Passover celebration for the Jewish Soldiers with an Active Duty Chaplain from Germany.

Sergeant First Class Velezgarcia’s awards include; Meritorious Service Medals, Army Commendation Ribbon, Army Achievement Ribbon, Army Good Conduct Ribbon, Army Reserve Components Achievement Ribbon, National Defense Service Ribbon, Global War on Tourism Expeditionary Ribbon, Army Armed Forces Reserve Ribbon, Army NCO Professional Development Ribbon, Army Service Ribbon, Army Overseas Service Ribbon, and Army Reserve Overseas Training Ribbon.

Sergeant First Class Velezgarcia’s Military service is supported by his loving wife, Vilmary. They have three sons Sigfredo Jr. Sigmael and Sigmadel and three grandchildren.

Soldiers Chapel Staff Biographies

Chaplain (Colonel) Kenneth E. Lawson

Kenneth Lawson was born in 1961 in Lawrence, MA.

Chaplain (Colonel) Kenneth E. LawsonWhile a senior in high school at age 17, he enlisted in the Army and Army Reserve, serving for six years (1979-1985) achieving the rank of E-5. After his conversion and a call to the Christian ministry, Ken was commissioned in 1989 as a chaplain candidate (2nd Lieutenant) in the Army Reserve.

For his civilian education, Chaplain Lawson is a graduate of Salem State University (B.S.); Bob Jones University (M.A.); Cincinnati Bible Seminary (M.Div.); Bethany Theological Seminary (D.S.T.); and Preston University (Ph.D.). Chaplain Lawson served for 11 years as a civilian pastor and has taught for 10 years as an evening school Bible College instructor. For three years he taught at the US Army Chaplain School, Fort Jackson, SC.

As a civilian pastor he led mission trips to Guatemala, Ireland, India (2x) and Cameroon. He became an Army Reserve chaplain in 1989 and came on active duty in the Army Reserve in 1999.

Chaplain Lawson’s military education includes Basic Training and Advanced Individual Training at Fort Gordon, GA; Chaplain Officer Basic Course; Chaplain Officer Advanced Course; Command and General Staff College; Division Chaplain Course; the Chaplain Colonel’s Course; and the US Air Force Air War College.

His military assignments include serving as an enlisted soldier at Fort Gordon, GA; Fort Devens, MA; Fort Drum, NY; and at Valcartier, Quebec. As an Army National Guard chaplain he was assigned to the Ohio and Massachusetts National Guard (1989-1999). In 1999 he went on active duty in the US Army Reserve (AGR), serving with the 94th Regional Support Command at Fort Devens, Massachusetts (1999-2001); the 7th Army Reserve Command, Heidelberg, Germany (2001-2004); the US Army Chaplain Center and School, Fort Jackson, South Carolina (2004-2007); Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico (2007-2010); Fort McCoy, Wisconsin (2010-2012), Ft. Hunter Liggett, California (2012-2014). He is currently the Army Support Activity (ASA) Command Chaplain, Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst.

Chaplain Lawson has had published numerous articles and twelve books on religious and/or military themes. His most recent books are With Courage and Confidence: The US Army Chaplaincy in the Puerto Rico Campaign of 1898 (2009); a 420 page biography of Brigadier General Gustavus Loomis, For Christ and Country (2011); and Religious and Reliable: Army Chaplains in the War of 1812 (2013).

His most memorable ministry experiences are completing five ministry trips to Bosnia, Kosovo and Macedonia; ministering to wounded soldiers from Iraq and Afghanistan at Landsthul Hospital in Germany; serving in a short deployment for Hurricane Katrina recovery duty; ministering to the January 2010, earthquake survivors from Haiti; and serving as a chaplain to first responders related to the 11 September 2001 attack on New York City. Ken and Vera Lawson were married in 1986. Residents of Derby, Vermont, they are the parents of four children.

Chaplain (LTC) Wilfredo Santiago Vargas

Chaplain Wilfredo Santiago Vargas was born and raised in Aguadilla, Puerto Rico. He was ordained a Presbyterian Minister on 23 February 1983. He served for 11 years as a civilian pastor and served for three years as a university professor at the Ineramerican University of Puerto Rico. He entered active federal service in May 1994. He attended the Chaplain Basic Course, at Fort Monmouth, New Jersey.

Chaplain (LTC) Wilfredo Santiago VargasHis first active duty assignment was at Hunter Army Air Field, Savannah, Georgia.
Chaplain Santiago’s military and civilian education includes the Chaplain Basic Course, Clinical Pastor Education Residency, Chaplain Career Course , Combined Arms and Service Staff School (CAS3), Intermediate Level Education, Clinical Incident Stress Management and Post Trauma Syndromes (Basic and Advanced), Combined Humanitarian Assistance Response Training (CHART), Spiritual Assessment Course, Academy of Health Sciences (Health Care Ethics), Medical Futility: Ethical Principles in Theory and in Practice, Equal Opportunity Representative Course, Family Support Group Leaders Training, Strong Bonds-Couples, Combat Lifesaver, and Observer /Controller Trainer Course.

Chaplain Santiago has a Bachelor’s Degree in Sociology from the University of Puerto Rico, and Master of Divinity from the Evangelical Seminary in Puerto Rico. He has another year in Advanced Clinical Pastor Education (CPE) from the Department of Veterans Administration, San Antonio, Texas. He is a certified trainer of Living Works Applied Suicide Intervention Skills Training (ASIST).

His Active Component and Reserve assignments include: the HHD 260th QM BN (PS), Army Airfield, Georgia; HHC, 1st BN, 9th INF, 2nd INF DIV, Camp Hovey, South Korea; HHC, MAMC TRP CMD, Fort Lewis, Washington; HHC, BAMC TRP CMD, Fort San Houston, Texas; HQ, 5th BDE 95th DIV, Fort Sam Houston, Texas; HQ, 63D Regional Support Command, Los Alamitos, California; 65th Regional Support Command, Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico; 1st Mission Support Command , Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico; 1st Army Division East, Fort George G. Meade, MD; 9th Mission Support Command, Fort Shafter, Honolulu, Hawaii. He is currently serving as the Deputy Command Chaplain Army Support Activities-Fort Dix, on Joint Base McGuire Dix Lakehurst, NJ.

His awards include: Meritorious Service Medal (3), Army Commendation Medal (1), Army Achievement Medal (2), National Defense Medal (2), Global War on Terrorism Service Medal, Armed Forces Reserve Medal (1), Overseas Ribbon.

Chaplain Santiago has two adult childen.