“This is our second deployment to Afghanistan within three years,” he wrote in a letter to the Cleveland Daily Banner. “Our motto is ‘Here to Fight’ and we have a great group of Brawler soldiers who have showed bravery and courage while deployed to accomplish our mission since December 2012.”
He is part of the Religious Support Team that includes himself as battalion chaplain and chaplain assistant Spc. Brett Foltz.
The religious support team is responsible for more than 380 Brawler soldiers and families for the multifunctional aviation task force.
“We work constantly on providing a ministry of presence by performing and providing direct comprehensive pastoral ministry to include unit visitation, counseling, religious ministrations and worship services in a combat operational environment. We implement single and married training events, crisis ministry intervention and spiritual fitness,” he wrote.
As battalion chaplain, Sarmiento serves as personal staff officer and adviser to battalion commander Lt. Col. Craig Alia and staff on matters of religion, ethics, morals and morale.
“My relationship with my Lt. Col. Craig Alia is great. He has been a great influence on our development as officers. I thank God that He has allowed me to work with a great staff who care for the well-being of our Brawler Soldiers. Also, my Command Sgt. Major Antonio Lopez has the heart to take care of the needs of our soldiers.”
He stated that serving in Afghanistan has been a wonderful learning experience, because it has allowed them to establish rapport, relations and respect.
“We have been able to establish and stay connected with our Brawler soldiers by the means of constantly visiting their areas of operation and showing them that we do care and are here for them and their families.
“Working on building a positive morale for our Brawler soldiers through many religious services and events are beneficial and add resiliency to them while deployed. Learning about another culture from a practical approach has added to our development.”
The religious support team provides opportunities for worship to soldiers and civilians in Camp Cole Chapel where the gospel service is a blessing and of great benefit.
“It fills my heart with joy to see our soldiers come after a long workday to service and find strength and hope in their faith. Our attendance has grown. We also have a great group of civilians who make our services delightful,” he wrote. “It is an honor for me to serve in the armed forces, but more importantly, it is an honor to serve my God and my Country in the U.S. Army.
“I thank everyone who has supported us through prayers and thoughts,” he stated in the letter.
Sarmiento is the son of the Rev. Luis and Martha Sarmiento, who immigrated from Ecuador to New York where they pastored predominantly Puerto Rican churches in Spanish Harlem and the Bronx.
There was never any question in Sarmiento’s mind that he someday he would begin his own ministry. At the age of 3, he ran to the pulpit and grabbed onto his father's leg as he preached.
He grew up working with his father as assistant pastor until 2000, when he felt called to enter Bible College in Puerto Rico. He came to Cleveland to continue his academic education at the Church of God Theological Seminary.
During the time Sarmiento attended school, he was fortunate to work part-time at the Bradley County Teacher’s Credit Union. He learned pastoral skills at Old Tasso Church of God, where he pastored more than three years before going to the International Worship Center, where he continued in a support role in ministry and fellowship.
It was in Cleveland where he met and married his wife, Linda, who lives here with the couple’s 22-month-old son, AJ; and her mother, Liliana Giron. His brother, Joshua, also lives and pastors in Cleveland.
“It was in Cleveland where I met and married my wife, Linda. She has always been very supportive and I am thankful for the sacrifices she has made for me. I would like to send my family greetings and tell them that I love and miss them much. They are my biggest inspiration to continue serving in the armed forces.
“Thanks to the chaplain’s commission, my professors and mentors for their instruction and guidance while preparing us for the ministry within the military.”
The chaplain invited the public to visit Task Force Brawler on Facebook.
“In the meantime, I look forward to the day when I can return to Cleveland, my hometown, and be reunited with family and friends,” he concluded.