Veteran’s & Military Service Ministry Team

The Rev. Laura Adelia
Lt Col, USAF, (Ret.)

Laura Adelia, USAF Veteran, OIF/OEF Veteran, Chaplain

My name is Laura & I served for 26+ years in the USAF, the Reserves, & the National Guard.  I have served as an enlisted person, a line officer, & a chaplain, & have had assignments all over the USA, plus 3 global deployments; Panama, Iraq / SW Asia (Operation Iraqi Freedom / Enduring Freedom), & Antarctica (Operation Deep Freeze).  In civilian life, I  have worked as an adjunct professor teaching Religious Studies for 14 years at Mesa College & Phoenix College, as a part-time chaplain at the VA hospital, & as a musician (bass & percussion) for many years.  I retired from the military in 2016.  

After bouncing around & feeling lost for a few years after getting out of the military, I was finally able to connect with the people & veteran organizations that helped me so much.   As a veteran, I know first-hand the struggles & challenges many veterans face, (physically, mentally & spiritually) & the confusion & difficulties in dealing with the bureaucracy of the VA.   It was from this, my own experience that I saw a disconnect & therefore a need.  That the Episcopal Church can very much help veterans & military people & families feel not so alone & invisible.  To be a network of support & connect with others, feel more at home & find one’s way in the civilian world, & help heal & spiritually grow.  I have an artsy side & very much enjoy creating things, helping people & paying it forward, & it is an honor to serve still.  

Michael Douglas

Michael Douglas, USAF Veteran, Viet Nam Veteran

I am a retired Deacon and a Viet Nam veteran.  I feel called to support the veteran community by helping those who served to navigate & overcome the complex challenges of civilian life.  My desire to help veterans is rooted in my own journey: I experienced feelings of social disconnectedness upon leaving the Air Force in the 1970s, followed by spiritual relief (and empowerment) in connecting with fellow veterans via community-based organizations.

The struggle for stability when alone as a veteran (literally and emotionally) is real.  I see this as a double moral imperative: Our veterans who sacrificed much in the service of our nation are now among the most vulnerable. That’s why I’m working with the Episcopal Veteran’s Ministry–to make it much easier for Arizona veterans to connect with the resources they need for holistic well-being (employment, mental health, housing, & spiritual needs), and to feel the healing & uplifting power of the Divine.

Phoenix Area
Phone: 623-680-6062

Richard Brown

Richard Brown, USAF & Viet Nam Veteran, Air Traffic Control

My name is Richard Brown.  I’m a 22-year Air Force Veteran.  I served as a combat controller and line air traffic controller for my entire Air Force career, & have served in numerous locations; Viet Nam, Shemya and Galena AB Alaska, Greenland, Dover AFB DE, Fairchild AFB, WA, JFK International Airport, and retired from Luke AFB, AZ.  I continued my career for the next 27 years as a contract air traffic controller serving in locations such as Kone and Molokai HI, Kenai and Kodiak AK, Flagstaff AZ, North Bend OR, Merced CA, Goodyear AZ, Glendale AZ, and Eagle CO. 

The Episcopal Church has been a part of my life for the past 53 years serving as senior warden, junior warden, church treasurer, grass cutter, janitor, and serving on numerous vestries.  The most enjoyable service for the past seven years has been serving the veterans at the U.S Veterans Center in Phoenix. Preparing a Friday afternoon hot meal helps these Vets remember that they are not forgotten as we were in Viet Nam.  

Phoenix, Sun City Area
Phone: 623-640-4677

Lyle Skillen

Lyle Skillen, US Navy Veteran, Corpsman

Lyle served 21 years in the US Navy as a Hospital Corpsman, supporting SEAL Teams 1/3/5 as a Special Operations Technician; providing Diving and Emergency Medical coverage.  Duty stations included Yokosuka, Japan, and Coronado, California & travel to many locations throughout the world.  Lyle also served as a lay minister in IRAQ providing Anglican services.  Lyle retired from the Navy Reserves in 2000.

Lyle is a longtime member of St. Stephens Episcopal Church in Phoenix, Arizona. Both he and his wife Meghan are graduates of EFM and remain active, with Meghan on the Vestry, and Lyle is serving with the Veteran Ministry of the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona.

Phoenix Area
Phone: 602-790-0953

Jack Lutz

Jack Lutz, US Marine Corps Veteran

After being discharged from the Marine  Corps in 1955, I attended the University of Missouri where I graduated with a bachelor of science degree. I then began a 60-year career in the Insurance business. Over the years I worked with a number of different insurance companies. I am now retired and volunteer with Habitat for Humanity.

Phoenix/Central AZ Area
Habitat for Humanity (Central AZ)
Phone: 602-284-2693

Ron Kupinksi

Ron Kupinksi, US Navy & Marine Corps Veteran, Military Police 

I served in the US Navy for 8 years & then in the Marine Corps Reserve for 3 years.  I was a Machinist Mate, E6 (Petty Officer First Class) in the Navy. In the  Marine Corps Reserves, I was a Staff Sergeant (E-6) & worked in the Military Police & Special Ops for the Federal Bureau of Prisons. After the military, I served the federal government for 28 years as a Deputy U. S. Marshal.

Currently, I serve as the Jr. Warden at the Church of the Nativity in Scottsdale.  I feel strongly about assisting our fellow veterans in any we can to thank them for their sacrifice.

Phoenix/Scottsdale Area
Phone: 303-668-7453

Leah Sandwell-Weiss

Leah Sandwell-Weiss,  USAF Veteran, JAG

I was ordained a deacon in the Episcopal Church in the Diocese of Arizona in January 2011. At the time, I was a law librarian at the James E. Rogers College of Law at the University of Arizona until I retired two years ago. But before that I was an Air Force officer – I retired in early 1999 after 20 years, most spent as a Judge Advocate (attorney). I served at bases around the United States, including Davis-Monthan in Tucson; I also served 3 years at Yokota AB, Japan.

I tried a few courts-martial, but primarily did a variety of administrative and tort law work. I was married for over 35 years to a man who served in the Army and the Air Force; both his parents and my dad also served. So while not coming from a military family, I do know veterans and care about their needs. As a deacon at St Philip’s in the Hills in Tucson, my primary ministry has been working with Pima County Interfaith, a broad-based non-partisan organization that develops leaders and institutions to speak out and act on issues impacting our families today. I’ve also taught Just Faith classes, worked with the Border and Immigration Ministry, and co-facilitated our anti-racism program. I’m looking forward to developing a veterans ministry at St Philip’s.

Tucson, Southern AZ Area
Phone: 520-661-8696

The Rev. Lisa Goforth

The Rev. Lisa Goforth 

My name is Lisa and I am a second career Episcopal Priest of almost 19 years, currently serving in the Episcopal Diocese of Arizona.  My first career of thirteen years as an engineer and program manager in the federal government included working closely with active military personnel of all branches of service.  I have been, (and still am), impressed with the dedication, professionalism, and honor of our active and retired military members. As an Episcopal priest, I found myself serving veterans both as parishioners and community members in Central Pennsylvania, Virginia, Oklahoma, and Arizona, wrestling with transitions to civilian life.  These transitions ranged from supporting veterans of all ranks in the process of working through ‘where do I fit in now as a civilian’ to spiritually processing challenging experiences faced during tours of duty.  I have often been struck that those who have so valiantly served our country during active service are often neglected or ignored during their time of vulnerability and need to return to civilian life.  Where can we, as Christians and fellow citizens, now serve those who have so selflessly served us?

I believe the Episcopal Church can make a healing and holistic difference for veterans AND for civilians who may not understand the challenges veterans face.   Given my somewhat unique background, I pray I can provide support to the Diocese of Arizona’s Veteran’s Ministry and to the men and women who have so honorably served our country.  

Phoenix/Scottsdale & Tempe Area
Phone: 918-550-0731