Army Chaplains have been around for a long time.
244 years to be exact.
In fact, since the Revolutionary War, Chaplains have served in every American war providing spiritual support to soldiers. The role of this religious leader is critical, especially in times of war when soldiers often lean on their faith the most.
That’s why every July 29, the Army Chaplain Corps is celebrated for its dedication and ongoing support of offering worldwide ministry to soldiers.
Want to learn more about the role of Army Chaplains? Read on.
What is an Army Chaplain?
As qualified religious leaders, Chaplains are trained in helping soldiers and their families with spiritual encouragement, counseling, and prayer. Army families may also find Chaplains leading worship, running retreats, administering the sacraments, and more. Chaplains stay true to their own faith while respecting others and their right to worship the faith they choose.
Position offerings include:
- Active duty Chaplaincy (full-time)
- Army Reserve Chaplaincy
- Army National Guard Chaplaincy
Chaplains are a part of Unit Ministry Teams, which is made up of a Chaplain and a Religious Affairs Specialist (RAS). They serve every level of command and can be assigned to any type of unit — Special Ops, infantry, hospitals, intelligence, and community ministries. The unit may be stationed worldwide at any of the 180 countries around the world.
Additionally, Chaplains are non-combatants. This means they don’t participate in activities related to warfare, but the RAS is a soldier trained in warfare, including providing protection for the Chaplain.
What is the Army Chaplain Corps Anniversary?
Each year, July 29 is designated as the Army Chaplain Corps anniversary.
As one of the smallest branches of the Army, the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps is a tight-knit group of individuals whose motto is “Pro Deo et Patria” or “For God and country.”
So, what’s the backstory of the Army Chaplain Corps?
Since its founding by the Continental Congress on July 29,1775, each Army regiment was assigned a Chaplain who was given the same pay as a captain. The Corps has evolved over time and now represents five major faith groups with over 120 denominations.
Since 1775, an estimated 25,000 Army chaplains have served as religious and spiritual leaders to millions of soldiers and their families.
To honor the impact the Corps has had on Army life, the Army Chaplain Corps celebrates its anniversary every year in Washington, DC and on bases throughout the world.
Have Army Chaplains Received Military Honors?
Although non-combatants, Army Chaplains show bravery in the midst of conflict and many have given their lives in the line of duty — including 400 Army chaplains who have died during battle.
Soldiers have shared stories of chaplains putting their lives in danger to treat the injured and administer last rites during battle.
During WWII, four Army Chaplains were posthumously awarded the Purple Heart, Distinguished Service Cross, and the Special Medal for Heroism that was created for them. Known as “The Four Chaplains,” they sacrificed themselves by giving their life jackets to other soldiers on a sinking ship.
How do I Qualify as an Army Chaplain?
To be a part of this select group, Chaplains are qualified morally and intellectually to provide free exercise of religion to soldiers. The rigorous application process also includes submitting a file to a selection board.
Additionally, as an active duty member, at a minimum you must have served two years in a full-time professional position as a member of a denomination or faith group prior to joining the Army.
Other Army Chaplain requirements include:
- No older than 42 by Army commission date
- Completion of basic theological education
- Meet bachelor and graduate level education requirements
- Obtain “ecclesiastical endorsement” certification
- Meet basic Army physical requirements
What interests you the most about an Army Chaplain service position? Let us know in the comments below!