Veteran Q&A: Rev. Michael Warner

Tell us your title and where you currently serve.

Clergy Care Services Director for the Indiana Annual Conference.

When were you drafted or when did you enlist?

I experienced a calling to serve as an Air Force reserve chaplain in May 1986. In 1994, the Lord called me to serve full time as an active-duty Air Force Chaplain. I received a commission as a captain and served as a chaplain until October 2014.

If you enlisted, what were some of the reasons that you joined the military? How did you choose your branch of service?

I heard God’s voice clearly call me to serve in this specialized area of ministry beyond the local church. I was either going to be obedient to the Lord’s will or defiantly choose my own path. After exploring sister services, I became aware the Air Force provided the culture and mission in which I most strongly connected.

What are some of the things you remember about adapting to military life?

I discovered some of the most godly and faithful followers of Christ, willing to sacrifice their lives for God and country. That was also true of indigenous citizens I encountered in the 38 countries the AF sent me to over 28+ years.

Where did you serve in the military?

  • Grissom AFB, IN
  • Brooks AFB, TX
  • Kunsan AB, Korea
  • Randolph AFB, TX
  • Wilford Hall Medical Center, TX
  • Kadena AB, Okinawa Japan
  • George Washington University, Washington DC
  • Maxwell AFB, AL
  • Osan AB, Korea
  • Lackland AFB, TX
  • Wright-Patterson AFB, OH
  • Deployments: England, Saudi Arabia, Iraq, Afghanistan, Djibouti

What were your first few months out of the service like?

The parallels between serving as a military chaplain and the Director of Clergy Care Services made the transition almost seamless.

How did your time in the military impact you?

I came to a deeper awareness that God is much bigger and works in people’s lives beyond the confines of our UMC. At one point, I served as senior pastor for 9 different Christian traditions, as well as the liaison for Jewish, Muslim, Hindu, Buddhist, and Wiccan communities on base. I learned to appreciate the uniqueness of different traditions. While I was never asked to lead a non-Christian service, I ensured all faith groups had what they needed to worship and build their faith community.

Is there anything you wish civilians understood about military service?

There are “salt of the earth” military members and families who make profound sacrifices to serve God and country. No matter their religious affiliation they deserve the very best support and resources to grow in their faith tradition.

What is your favorite meal?

Korean and Japanese cuisine

What is your favorite way to rest?

Anything that involves being outdoors (hiking, gardening, boating, snowmobile).

What are you currently reading or watching on tv?

  • Moral Injury, Restoring Wounded Souls by Larry Kent Graham
  • Open Road by Sue Nilson Kibbey
  • In the Footsteps of the Savior by Max Lucado
  • The Great Disappearance by David Jeremiah