By Amanda Kim Stairrett
Killeen Daily Herald
During the week, Staff Sgt. Timothy Garland is a chemical platoon sergeant in the 13th Sustainment Command's 2nd Chemical Battalion, but when the weekend comes, he donates his time ministering to inmates.
He and other volunteers from the Church of Jesus Christ House of Prayer visit local detention facilities to speak one-on-one with inmates.
Garland started volunteering as a prison minister when he was stationed at Fort Polk, La., He moved to Fort Hood in April 2006 and continued his ministry.
Garland recently received a certificate of merit from the 13th Sustainment Command for his volunteer work.
The volunteers don't talk about church doctrine, but visit with inmates to give them a sense of hope, Garland said.
Working so closely with inmates doesn't scare Garland because "people are people," he said. He isn't easily intimidated, he said, because he is a former wrestler and boxer.
Most of the inmates Garland speaks with have accepted that they are in prison, and guests give them encouragement, letting them know there is light at the end of the tunnel. During visits, Garland and the inmates talk about what they did to get in jail and what they can do to fix the situation.
The inmates just appreciate having someone on the outside to talk to, Garland said.
He likes to provide them with hope, which will change their lives, he said.
And it's the same when he talks to his soldiers, too.
"It's not always about the green uniform," he said.
He approaches soldiers and inmates the same way in that he tries to adapt to and associate with them despite what may be completely different backgrounds.
Garland volunteers for the program because he loves helping people, he said. He loves to talk, too, he added.
His father was a minister and has been active in churches since he was a boy. He is second-oldest of seven children and used to get in trouble for talking too much, he said.
When he isn't working or volunteering, Garland likes to help coach football with his 8-year-old son's Youth Services team. His 12-year-old plays for Audie Murphy Middle School.
Garland enlisted in the Army in June, 1991, and served as a drill sergeant from 2001 to 2002. He has deployed to Kosovo, Iraq and Kuwait.
The only thing Garland gets out of visiting with inmates is the satisfaction of helping others, he said.
It doesn't provide anything tangible and he doesn't look for rewards.
"I just love helping folks," he said.
Contact Amanda Kim Stairrett at firstname.lastname@example.org