by Ryan Labadens, U.S. Navy Public Affairs

Life can sometimes take people down many paths, allowing them to gain experience from various points in their lives to help them in accomplishing the goals they’ve set upon. For the new deputy command chaplain, Lt. j.g. Wileslie Wint, onboard Naval Construction Battalion Center (NCBC) in Gulfport, Mississippi, each opportunity he has had in his military career has helped lead him toward the path of serving as a chaplain in the United States Navy.

Originally from Manchester, Jamaica, Wint moved to the United States with his mother when he was 10-years old, and he lived out the rest of his elementary through high school years in Hartford, Connecticut. Since he didn’t have enough money to pay for college, one of his teachers advised him to consider the military since it would also provide him the means to pay for his college education. So, in 2001, Wint enlisted in the U.S. Navy as a hospital corpsman, giving him the opportunity to serve people from a medical standpoint.

He married his high school sweetheart, Deborah, in 2002, and at the end of his initial enlistment in 2006, Wint decided to leave the military to begin pursuing his higher education.

Throughout his first enlistment in the military, however, Wint noticed how difficult it was for some of his peers to adjust to the military life, and that made him think more deeply about what he could do career-wise to help out people with the issues they may be facing in their lives.

“I genuinely love people. I love being a person that they can talk to, who makes them feel heard, supported and encouraged, and I also like helping to solve problems and figuring out how to connect people with other people I meet,” said Wint. “So, I like listening to people, helping to solve problems and helping them to network.”

In March 2006, Wint had gone back to his home church in Hartford to attend a service, and there was a missionary giving a guest sermon there that opened his eyes to one possible way that Wint could serve people.

“I was like ‘Hey, I could do this, I’d love to be a missionary… but I also like the military – and the military is a mission field, so I could be a chaplain!’” said Wint.

Wint and his family then moved to Georgia, where he started off attending Clayton State University in Marrow, and then transferred to Atlanta Christian College (now called Point University) so he could pursue his educational path towards serving in the ministry.

Around this time his wife was expecting their second child, so he decided to reenlist in the military again and continue his education while he was serving in the military. This time, Wint joined the Army as a motor transportation operator (truck driver) in November 2008, and was stationed at Fort Lewis, Washington (now known as Joint Base Lewis McChord), with the 40th Transportation Company for his first duty assignment in the Army.

In 2009, his unit deployed to Iraq for nine months to a base called Camp Q-West, which was south of Mosul. While there, Wint finished his bachelor’s degree in Humanities via distance learning through what is now known as Thomas Edison State University, and later in his career went on to receive his master’s degree in Divinity and became ordained through the General Association of Regular Baptists.

While he was in Iraq, he approached his deployment there (and the rest of his enlisted career) as an opportunity to learn more about military life so he could help minister to the needs of military personnel.

“While I was there, I was serving as a Soldier – just a regular Joe – but I also took on the role serving as someone people could come to for moral and spiritual guidance,” said Wint, who noted that he took on the role of an unofficial religious programs specialist, leading Bible studies, assisting in the chapel, and – in cases where the chaplain wasn’t available – leading in prayers before his convoy would go out on patrols or other missions.

“We walked through hard times together – just the life of being deployed, of being away from family – so I did a lot of counseling with other Soldiers, trying to help them with whatever they might be going through,” said Wint.

After leaving the Army, he applied to be a Navy Chaplain Candidate Program Officer (CCPO) since he felt his calling was to serve as a chaplain in the Navy, and in 2011 he was commissioned as an officer in the CCPO. While performing an internship at the Joint Base Lewis McChord, he was introduced to Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE), which is the type of work chaplains perform while ministering to hospital and hospice patients.

He worked at various other positions once outside the military after receiving his credentials in CPE before accepting his appointment as a Navy chaplain in 2021, and he began his assignment as the deputy command chaplain at NCBC Gulfport in November of that year.

Wint said that chaplains in the Chaplain Corps don’t just care and provide services for people of their own faith. They also facilitate by getting materials requested by members of other religions and helping to put them in contact with places of worship outside the base fence line, while also making sure they have a comfortable environment to practice their faith at the base chapel.

In addition, another role of chaplains is to advise their command on religious matters, as well as the state of morale among service members and the base community.

So far during his time here, Wint has been working with the chapel staff at the Seabee Memorial Chapel, learning more about the programs it offers and striving to serve the military and civilian personnel onboard the Gulfport Navy base.

“I like being here in Gulfport, and I’m looking forward to continuing working with everyone to build upon the programs we have here at the chapel,” said Wint.