You have to be a very special person to be a military chaplain. When a person enlists in the military and decides to become a chaplain, they have to be willing and ready to accept that they will deal with a lot of sadness. Many times the chaplain is the one that will deliver bad news to a soldier’s unit and family. After years of being in the military, I have realized that a chaplain does way more than just listen to people’s problems or pray for their sick or injured loved ones.
A chaplain has to adjust to many different personalities. Even though they attend a special military school to become a chaplain, they have to be able to be a caregiver, psychologist, relationship counselor, and more. They spend hours planning and arranging unit outings or even a simple baseball game. They spend time visiting and checking on the overall well being of each assigned soldier.
In my time here at Walter Reed, I have had the opportunity to meet several Army and Navy chaplains. Only one of them started their career in the military as a chaplain. There are two that I know of who actually started their career in the military in the infantry: one as an officer and the other as an enlisted member. I asked each of them, “why did you change?” They both answered that it’s very rewarding to help so many soldiers and their families as well.
What Do Military Chaplains Do?
In my time here at Walter Reed, I have watched the chaplains do so much for the wounded warriors and their families. They have set up so many outings and arranged visits from sports stars, singers, and more. I have seen them work some pretty long hours assisting wounded warriors and their families. When you think about it, they play a very important role in helping the wounded soldiers return to duty. I have learned in my time here that being a chaplain is not just about giving somebody a shoulder to cry on or sitting down in church and praying with them. The chaplain to me shows such great care and military leadership to soldiers no matter if they are wounded, ill, or ready to go into combat.
They go above and beyond their responsibilities to visit and check on each and every soldier in their command. Many of them have also been in combat. They have probably seen the worst of the worst on a battlefield. They have been there to say “there will be better days.” When you lose one of your own, they will be there. When you return from combat or just a convoy ops mission in Afghanistan, they will be there to greet each and every soldier and thank them for the job well done. When you think about it, a chaplain has seen or will see more wounded, killed, sick, or injured soldiers than most soldiers will see in their whole time in the military. They have to be very resilient because one day they may have to attend a funeral and the next day they may be counseling a couple who are planning on getting married.
Thanking All Military Chaplains
I have been here at Walter Reed for over a year now, and I’ve watched the chaplains here do such amazing things for each of us and our families. I myself would like to say “thank you” to each chaplain and it’s a pleasure to have met each of you. You are warriors too!