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Photo by Paul Lara

Sgt. 1st Class Direck Whorley

In 2007, Sgt. 1st Class Direck Whorley returned from his first deployment to Afghanistan at a crossroads in his military career.

The Big Island, Va., native wanted to remain active duty, but wasn’t sure what route to go. Infantry was an option. So, too, was religious affairs, since God had always been central to Whorley’s life. After considering his choices, Whorley soon received his answer.

“It felt like God was pushing me more in the right direction,”Whorley said.

Whorley responded by becoming a religious affairs specialist.

Whorley said there’s a common misperception he’s an assistant chaplain.

“It’s not my role to be a chaplain,” said Whorley, who has been stationed at Belvoir since October. “I assist the chaplain and provide religious support. That’s my mission to make that happen.”

Lt. Col. B. Dean Akers Jr., Belvoir deputy garrison chaplain, said Whorley is the “epitome of a senior religious affairs specialist NCOIC.”

“He goes beyond his responsibilities to ensure the mission is met at the highest standard,” Akers said. “He recently totally transformed, through his own equipment, our RSO, to meet the virtual requirement of providing ministry to our Warriors and their families, civilians and contractors. I would serve with him anywhere!”

Besides aiding the garrison chaplain, Whorley said he also helps other religious affairs specialists. He and his wife, Ashley, also sing and play worship music livestreamed over the internet. Whorley videotaped and edited virtual services for Easter and the National Day of Prayer, as well.

Whorley said he enjoys his position primarily for two reasons. It allows him to “guide, mentor and mold” new religious affairs specialists and he gets “to ensure that all faith groups are taken care of.”

Whorley also enjoys his role because of the diversity it offers. He said religious affairs specialists are not required to have a faith background. Some people find that tough to handle sometimes, but Whorley has no issues with it.

“It’s helped me to understand things better and helped me be a part of different ministries that otherwise I would not be a part

of,” Whorley said. “Religious affairs specialists who don’t have a faith background are just as effective in my role, but it has personally helped me.”