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Former banker now Chaplain promoted to Lieutenant Colonel

Photo caption: ILLINOIS ARMY NATIONAL Guard Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Vince Lambert’s wife of 28 years, Latonia, and son, John, pin his new silver oak leaf rank unto his uniform. Chaplain Lambert, of Evergreen Park, Illinois, spent nearly two decades in finance, investment and bank management before deciding to join the Army as a member of the Chaplain Corps. “It was a surprising pivot,” LaTonia said. “It was something he really wanted to do. It has been a journey that we are both excited to be on.” Lambert is the Deputy Command Chaplain of the Illinois Army National Guard helping provide Chaplain care to more than 10,000 Soldiers.

Vince Lambert of Evergreen Park promoted in National Guard’s Historic General Jones Armory

The Illinois Army National Guard’s Deputy Command Chaplain Vince Lambert of Evergreen Park was nearing 40, was running two banks, had a master’s degree in business administration and nearly 20 years of experience in finance and investment when he decided to become an Army Chaplain.

Lambert, who wasn’t even in the Army when he was called to service as an Army Chaplain, is now Chaplain (Lieutenant Colonel) Lambert after being promoted from major during a Feb. 2 ceremony at the Illinois Army National Guard’s historic General Richard L. Jones Armory on the South Side of Chicago.

“It was a surprising pivot,” said LaTonia Lambert, who has been married to Vince for nearly 28 years but has only been an Army Chaplain’s wife for half that time. “It was something he really wanted to do. It has been a journey that we are both excited to be on.”

Lambert started his relationship with God much sooner than his relationship with the U.S. Army. He has 28 years of civilian ministry experience in various roles including pastor, associate pastor, and church planter. In addition to his bachelor’s degree in finance from Chicago State University and MBA from North Park University, he has a master’s degree in religion and urban ministry from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, a master’s degree in human services counseling (marriage and family) from Liberty University and is in the final stages of a doctorate of ministry from the Trinity Theological Seminary in Pastoral Care and Counseling.

Still, when he first started with the 2nd Battalion, 122nd Field Artillery Regiment in 2009, his battalion officer-in-charge was worried about getting a new chaplain whose only Army experience was the Chaplain Basic Officer Course. The unit had just returned from Afghanistan where three of its Soldiers were killed in action and several more wounded.

“These were battle-hardened Soldiers,” said Col. Lenny Williams, the battalion officer-in-charge back then and now the Illinois Army National Guard Chief of Staff. “It wasn’t an easy assignment, but he was remarkable from the get-go.”

Williams joked about having to “Army-up” his new chaplain on a couple of occasions, but said Lambert just connected with these Soldiers who were adjusting to life after combat. Williams praised Lambert’s candor and transparency, his servant leadership, his credibility and how he earned the “unbridled trust, faith, and confidence” of the Soldiers and the leadership.

“It is just who he is. He has a knack for doing it,” Williams said.

“God had a calling for me to be an Army chaplain,” Lambert said. “But at the time, I didn’t know the difference between a corporal and a colonel.”

Chaplain (Colonel) Steve Foster, the Illinois National Guard’s Command Chaplain – and Chaplain Lambert’s fulltime supervisor – said Lambert was a “respectful truth-teller.”

“He will tell you if you’re jacked up. He’s told me when I’m jacked up!” Foster said. But Lambert also listens and takes and incorporates constructive criticism, he added.

“He has no personal agenda,” Williams said. He prioritizes the greatest good, puts people first, and genuinely cares about people, Williams added.

Lambert said he was always interested in being an Army Chaplain, but he was earning his daily bread by managing two banks. It was 2007-2008 financial crisis that finally led him to heed the call to service and join the Illinois Army National Guard. “There are always ups and downs in the financial market, but that was it for me. I almost missed the age to join. I was 39 and I think the maximum age to join as a Chaplain was 41.”

Since that time, he has ‘Army’d up,’ quite a bit.

After serving as the chaplain for the 2-122nd Field Artillery, he served as the 634th Brigade Support Battalion chaplain, the 108th Multifunctional Medical Battalion chaplain, the brigade chaplain for the 108th Sustainment Brigade and then the 33rd Infantry Brigade Combat Team. In 2020, he deployed for a year to Ukraine as the Task Force Illini chaplain at the Joint Multinational Training Group Ukraine.  Now the ILARNG’s Deputy Command Chaplain and as a full-time support chaplain, he has responsibility for all 10,000 Soldiers in the Illinois Army National Guard.

His Army courses include the Chaplain Officer Basic Course, the Captain’s Career Course, the Intermediate Level Education, and the Operational Religious Leader Course. He is also an adjunct faculty member at Moody Bible Institute, Trinity International University, in the MBA program at North Park University, DeVry University’s Keller Graduate School of Management and Northwest University. Lambert also has several certifications in marriage and family counseling and pastoral care as well as suicide intervention.

In his remarks, Lambert thanked God, his mentors, and his wife.

“Without LaTonia, I could literally do nothing,” he said. They have two sons, John, who is in middle school, and Joshua, who is in college.

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