By Roger Drinnon
ST. LOUIS — Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Steven Hokana was installed as the Synod’s assistant director of Ministry to the Armed Forces (MAF) during a Jan. 8 service here at the LCMS International Center.
He brings more than 30 years of military experience to the MAF, having recently retired from the U.S. Army after serving as an active-duty chaplain.
“Our prayers have been answered and God has blessed us by bringing Chaplain Steven Hokana to serve on our staff at Ministry to the Armed Forces,” said Chaplain Craig Muehler, MAF director. “His reputation as an outstanding Army chaplain precedes him, and he brings to our office a wealth of experience, skills and a huge pastoral heart for the men and women serving in uniform and their families.”
“It is with love, mercy and hope that our MAF reaches out to our LCMS chaplains, their families, fellow military personnel and veterans from our church,” said Hokana. “We look to the apostle Paul and encourage our military men and women to stand firm [Ephesians 6], fully equipped for service as a child of God redeemed by Christ.”
Hokana succeeds Chaplain Eric Erkkinen, who served in the assistant director position since 2008.
“I thank Chaplain Eric Erkkinen, who served as my predecessor, and I hope to bring the same joy and enthusiasm he has for the Gospel,” Hokana said.
Hokana’s military service has taken him to Southwest Asia, Cuba, Bosnia, Germany and Denmark, as well as to Alaska and on multiple other stateside assignments. He participated in several major military operations, including Desert Shield and Desert Storm for the liberation of Kuwait and Stabilization Force 6, a multinational peacekeeping force deployed to Bosnia and Herzegovina after the Bosnian war. More recently, he provided pastoral care for service members deployed in Southwest Asia contingencies like Inherent Resolve — the U.S. military response to the Islamic State — and Operations Freedom’s Sentinel, Enduring Freedom and Resolute Support.
His Army career culminated in his service as chaplain of the 13th Sustainment Command, for which he supervised as many as 44 chaplains and chaplain assistants who provided religious-support operations to thousands of soldiers and Department of Defense civilians and contractors in Iraq, Afghanistan and several other areas of Southwest Asia.
Hokana’s awards and decorations include the Legion of Merit, the Army Meritorious Service Medal (awarded nine times), the Army Commendation Medal (awarded six times), the Army Achievement Medal (awarded three times) and the Army’s Parachutists and Air Assault badges. He was twice awarded the Army’s medal for humanitarian service. Hokana also is the recipient of the Order of Medical Military Merit and MAF’s Bronze St. Martin of Tours award for more than 20 years of service as a chaplain in the LCMS.
Hokana graduated with a bachelor’s degree in History from Concordia College—New York, Bronxville, N.Y., in 1982. He earned his Master of Divinity degree from Concordia Seminary, St. Louis, in 1987 and his Doctorate of Ministry degree from the Oblate School of Theology, San Antonio, in 2006.
In his new role, Hokana will help lead the MAF in recruiting, training and caring for LCMS chaplains while also ensuring care and outreach for service members, veterans and their families. After decades of armed conflict, more and more service members are returning from combat traumatized by witnessing the horrors of war, leading to as many as 22 suicides a day among veterans.
“I am excited and looking forward to working with Steven and know that God will use him mightily in support and service to our chaplains, our military personnel, our veterans and all their families,” said Muehler.
Roger Drinnon (email@example.com) is manager of Editorial Services for LCMS Communications.
Posted Jan. 13, 2016 / Updated Jan. 19, 2016