Serving Castoff Veterans and Families

The Rev. Katie Presley

Deacon, All Saints’ | Atlanta

The word “cargo” comes from Latin words for “wheeled vehicle” and “load.” For Katie Presley, handling military cargo has led to a new understanding of the word “care.”

As she prepares for chaplaincy, Presley brings 12 years of logistics work for the US Air Force including cargo support operations for the Middle East.

“It’s everything you can think of doing in an airport, except for flying, fixing and fueling planes,” she explained. “At this point in my career in the military, it’s really a lot of leadership and management. I get to do a lot of mentoring of younger airmen, shaping them and their future careers and empowering them to be the best airmen they can be. It’s a lot of caring for service members.”

Once discharged — and often disabled — veterans can feel discarded as if they were cargo, not people. The margins of society are their wilderness. Presley’s calling is to them too, and served as a VA Hospital chaplain intern.

“Drive around Atlanta and you’ll see a homeless person holding a sign that says ‘homeless vet, please help,’” she said. “A lot of what we have, we really do owe to people who have made that sacrifice and it’s not just the service members, it’s their families too.”

Her message:

“I see you. I see your pain. I see your hurt. I see your sacrifice and I’m sorry that we as a country, we as a church haven’t always supported you, and haven’t thanked you in the ways that you deserve to be thanked.”

Today, Presley is a candidate for ordination to the priesthood in the Diocese of Atlanta and chaplain candidate in the US Army. (Unlike priests, chaplains serve in non-church settings.) Presley also serves as parish program coordinator at All Saints’.

“The new thing that that I’m doing with God is expanding ministry beyond the walls of the church,” she said. “Parish ministry is beautiful and needed, and so is chaplaincy; so
are our priests who are willing to step into some harsh, tense positions, to walk alongside people who are hurting, and love them unconditionally.”