Three weeks ago, Chaplain (Maj.) Dwayne Hughes arrived at Fort Meade from Fort Bragg, N.C., where he served as a Family Life chaplain. With nine years of experience as a military chaplain, Hughes is taking on the same role here.
“Even though I’m a chaplain, I also have the training as a marriage and family therapist to help families,” Hughes said. “To help individuals struggling with past or present trauma, post-traumatic stress and beyond is amazing to me.”
The Family Life Ministry Center is a pastoral counseling center available to all branches of the military services, civilian employees and family members in the Fort Meade community. The goal of the FLMC is to offer professional and compassionate care to the whole person, according to the Religious Support Office website.
Hughes, who was born in 1961, grew up in the suburbs of Detroit. At the age of 18, he informed his family that he was looking to do something more with his life.
“One day I woke up and said, ‘Mom, Dad, I’m tired of shoveling snow,’ ” he said.
Hughes knew one day he would eventually join the Army due to his love of flying.
“I remember riding my bike as a kid to the [Detroit Metropolitan Airport] just to lay in the grass at the end of the runway to watch the planes take off,” he said. “I had such a passion to fly and I knew the Army was a great opportunity for that.”
Hughes, whose father served in the Navy and grandfather was a British Merchant Marine, enlised in July 1986. After completing basic combat training at Fort Leonard Wood, Mo., he began basic flight instruction at Fort Rucker, Ala., where he received his Army aviator wings.
After serving seven years and completing his initial service obligation as an Army warrant officer, he separated from the Army to attend Southeastern Baptist Theological Seminary in Wake Forest, N.C.
After earning his master’s degree at the seminary, Hughes worked on establishing a new Christian church in East Asia for nearly 13 years.
“I absolutely love what I do,” Hughes said about the chaplaincy. “Being a chaplain is my calling. Over time, people have said, ‘Wow, Chaplain, you’ve really helped me,’ and I saw that as a gift.”
During the surge in Iraq, Hughes was moved by the condition of wounded service members and the stress placed on Army families. He re-entered active duty as a chaplain in May 2008.
“It’s such a passion to see people reconnect,” Hughes said. “To see those things happen, who can’t get excited about that?”
As a chaplain, Hughes said he especially “loves” helping people achieve their goals.
“To look across the formation and to see the couple I helped make it, and to see that individual Soldier alive because his or her chaplain was available is just amazing to me,” he said.
As Fort Meade’s new Family Life minister, Hughes plans to focus on several key areas he was sent here to accomplish including helping couples in their marital relationships as well as people struggling with stress.
“I’m the traditional [pastor] at the Main Post Chapel, the senior pastor at the traditional service and the Family Life counselor at the [Argonne Hills] Chapel Center,” he said. “This is my passion and I wholeheartedly love to do this.”
Hughes and his wife, Melissa Lynn Hughes, who also works in family life counseling, are now settling in Annapolis.
“It’s funny how I met my wife,” Hughes said smiling. “I was in Fort Rucker, Ala., at the time and one of my friends invited me to his church. I couldn’t find his church, so I went to another as a single young guy fresh into the military. As I sat down, this beautiful young lady came in, and 30 years later here we are.”
The couple have three children: Joshua, a chaplain candidate; Justin, a member of a Navy Seal team; and Kayla, an elementary school teacher. They also have eight grandchildren.
Even though Hughes recently moved to Maryland, he’s already enjoying the state’s favorite crustacean — blue crabs.
“What I really enjoy about picking blue crabs is you have to take your time,” he said. “It’s not like when you grab a burger and fries, then you chat a little and leave. You have to literally pull off the legs of the crab and crack the shell. Then, you’re just talking the entire time while having a good time.”
As he settles into his new role at Fort Meade, Hughes continues to embrace his calling.
“Being a chaplain is the thing that gets me up every morning and drives me because I find such joy in what I do,” he said.
Editor’s note: The Family Life Center is located at Argonne Hills Chapel Center, 7100 Rockenbach Road.
Hours are Monday to Friday from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, call 301-677-6035 or 301-677-7959.