1st Vice President & Programs Committee, Past President & Membership Committee
LTC Bob VanLaan USA (ret)
Chaplain VanLaan was born and raised in Dutton, MI. He received his Bachelors of Arts degree in Bible from Grand Rapids Baptist College, Grand Rapids, Michigan. After 3 years in concrete construction, he returned to his studies and received a Masters of Religious Education from the Grand Rapids Baptist Seminary.
After seminary, Chaplain VanLaan served for the next 20 years (1982-2002) as an Associate Pastor of Christian Education at a Baptist Church in Eureka, California. In January of 1988 Chaplain VanLaan was commissioned in the California Army National Guard. His military education includes the Chaplain Officer Basic Course, Chaplain Officer Advance Course, and the first half of the Command and General Staff College.
Chaplain VanLaan began his military career in 1968 by serving 4 years in the United States Navy as a teletype operator in Washington D.C. and the Philippines. During the years 1988-2002 Chaplain VanLaan served in various units as a Reserve Components Chaplain: 132nd Engineer Battalion, 579th Engineer Battalion, Engineer Brigade and 3rd Brigade of the California Army National Guard’s 49th Division, and also the 319th Signal Battalion, 63rd Regional Readiness Command of the U.S. Army Reserves (USAR). In 2002 Chaplain VanLaan was selected to serve on Active Duty in the Active/Guard Reserve (AGR) Program. His first assignment was with the 65th Regional Readiness Command at Fort Buchanan, Puerto Rico. In July 2005 he assumed duties at the Chief of Chaplains Office in the Reserve Components Integration Directorate as the USAR Chaplain Candidate Manager. He retired from the Army Reserve in May 2009, to Chico, CA.
Chaplain VanLaan’s awards include the Legion of Merit, Meritorious Service Medal (oak leaf cluster), the Army Commendation Medal, the Army Achievement Medal (two oak leaf clusters), the Global War on Terrorism Medal, the Armed Forces Reserve Medal, the Army Service Ribbon, the NATO Medal, and others. He is authorized to wear the Army Staff Identification Badge.
Chaplain VanLaan enjoys gardening, woodworking and restoring old cars.
Chaplain VanLaan is married to the former Sharon Welton of Big Rapids, Michigan.