MOLINE -- He wears an Army uniform again but salutes a Salvation mission instead.
Lt. Greg Ehler is co-pastor at the Salvation Army Heritage Temple and Community Center, 2200 5th Ave., Moline, with his wife, Lt. Holly Ehler.
He called it "the best promotion I ever got." He was in the U.S. Army for 12 years, including time as an infantry division sniper.
"I don't do a lot of talking about my time as a sniper," Lt. Ehler said. "It's not fun to dwell over taking someone's life. I went from having a combat career to a job where the priority is saving lives. It's no longer a matter of subtracting a life from this world but of trying to make the world a better place."
He still wears a uniform, but it's different from the one he wore before. Now, it's a white shirt, black tie and black suit coat with an S on each lapel, standing for the "Serve to save" motto.
People sometimes mistake him for an airline pilot, he said. "It's really funny when people come to the Heritage Temple and still ask if I'm a pilot," Lt. Ehler said.
The uniform comes with a special cap, but the job keeps him wearing many hats, he said.
He and his wife do everything pastors of a church would do, including serving as building administrators, fundraisers, warehouse managers, logistics organizers and worship leaders.
"We're also emergency disaster responders," Lt. Ehler said. "We were assured that if we worked here, we would have no time for any part-time job."
The decision to join the Salvation Army was made "through God alone," he said.
"I wouldn't have done it without His prodding," Lt. Ehler said. "I had a good paying job, a good home, good schools for the kids. Everything was good. But we decided to sell our house and our car and try to live on a pastor's salary.
"The Lord put this on our hearts," he said. "Once that happened, we had no other choice."
They've loved their job, neighborhood and the Quad-Cities' area ever since, he said.
He even has become a hockey fan, thanks to some congregation members who are Quad City Mallards season ticket holders and insisted on taking the Ehlers to games.
"I can recognize Mo Mallard now," he said.
Lt. Ehler said he learned something else while on the job. "There are not enough hours in the day to help people who need us. I wish I had spent more time and learned more in school, instead of learning while being eyeball deep in it. The learning curve is like trying to drink water from a fire hose."
He and his wife started their jobs last July, "so I'm still too new to this career path to say if I'd like anything to be different," he said.
"What I love most is interacting with people, meeting them where they are and helping to lift them up, spiritually and emotionally," Lt. Ehler said. "It's exciting. No day is exactly the same."
Huge flower planters shaped like coffee mugs on saucers in the temple's coffee room also made him feel welcome, he said. "They must have known I was coming and how much I love my coffee."
Lt. Ehler's advice to anyone considering a career change as radical as his is to "pray about it first."
He also remembers advice given by former Kiss guitarist Ace Frehley, who said, "If you think you're in the wrong profession, you already are."
Lt. Ehler said the ramifications of his choice are "eternal," not to mention far more rewarding.