Pro Deo Et Patria- An Army Chaplain

I am a chaplain in the US Army, serving in Iraq. I'm keeping a blog to share my thoughts and experiences while deployed. They are my thoughts and they don't necessarily reflect the opinions of the US Army! :)

Monday, June 12, 2006

Becoming a chaplain

To the right is the crest of the US Army Chaplain Corps, which was founded in 1775, making it the second oldest (after the infantry) part of the Army. Pro Deo Et Patria means "For God and Country."

So how do you become a chaplain? Well, there are three main things to become an Army chaplain, involved in the application process: getting a secret clearance, having the educational requirements, and being endorsed by a recognized religious endorser.

First, the secret clearance: Chaplains must have a secret clearance, and this involves an in depth background check into your finances, moral life, and the like.

Second, educational requirements: you must have not only a bachelor's degree, but also a Master of Divinity, or the equivalent to be a chaplain. Because of this, chaplain's are commissioned not as 2nd Lieutenants, but 1st Lieutenants, and make Captain soon after.

Finally, you must be endorsed by a recognized religious endorser. Religious groups can apply to be recognized by the Department of Defense as endorsing bodies. Lutheran Congregations in Mission for Christ (LCMC) recently became a recognized body, and, I will actually be the first LCMC chaplain to deploy. I'm proud to represent LCMC as a chaplain.

The endorser is important. As I mentioned in a previous post, the Army cannot ask a chaplain to do anything that would contradict his/her own faith, according to the doctrine of the chaplain's endorsing body. Hence, as a Lutheran, I will not be asked to lead a Jewish worship service. This is part of the Constitution's protections on the free expression of religion.

I'm proud of the way in which the Army respects the religious beliefs of its soldiers, as well as encouraging soldiers to practice their own faith as best as they can.


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