Military Chaplain Career Information, Jobs, Degrees & Training Programs

Military chaplains officiate at religious services, offer religious counseling, and administer religious ordinances to soldiers, such as last rites. Participating in combat is emotionally, physically, and spiritually draining, so the military provides soldiers with chaplains to address spiritual problems and comfort them during difficult times.

Military chaplains help any soldier requesting assistance, regardless of creed or denomination. Chaplains even meet with atheists if they request assistance. Atheists and non-religious soldiers occasionally consult chaplains because they need someone to talk to. Chaplains are embedded with units in warzones to provide counseling, organize religious services, and administer religious ordinances to soldiers requesting them.

Military chaplains work in each branch of the armed forces. In fact, each branch constantly recruits new chaplains by offering signing bonuses, tuition reimbursement, and other incentives.

Job Responsibilities

Military chaplains are often the first people service members consult with during times of extreme emotional or spiritual duress. It's the responsibility of chaplains to assist soldiers as best they can. Chaplain responsibilities include the following:
  • Organize religious services in multiple environments
  • Administer religious rites and officiate at funerals, weddings, and other ceremonies
  • Counsel spiritually and emotionally scarred soldiers
  • Teach Sunday school and oversee youth groups
  • Visit injured soldiers in hospitals
  • Meet with family members of killed or injured soldiers
  • Train religious leaders responsible for overseeing religious ceremonies
Education and Training

Military chaplains are taught how to adequately counsel and assist soldiers, while respecting the opinions and beliefs of atheists and soldiers with differing beliefs.

Each military branch administers chaplain training programs. The training program administered by the Army lasts 12 weeks, the Navy's program is only 7 weeks, and the Air Force's program is conducted during 2 summers.

To create continuity through the military, all chaplain training is administered at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. However, the Army, Navy, and Air Force each have separate chaplain training schools at Fort Jackson.

The Department of Defense requires all prospective chaplains satisfy these requirements before being admitted into a chaplain training program:
  • Obtain a letter of endorsement from a pastor or ecclesiastical leader
  • Earn a graduate degree with at least 36 credit hours of religious and theological study associated with your religious denomination

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