Army Puts out a Call for more Chaplains

When Army Spc. Mark Melcher was shot by a sniper in Anbar province in April 2006, Chaplain Douglas Etter was there to hold his hand and comfort the dying Pittsburgher.

“Mark was a Mellon Bank employee who was felled … just 28 days after he joined us as a replacement. I kissed him and more than one of those boys on the forehead after making the sign of the cross there,” Chaplain Etter told a conference of returning veterans at Soldiers & Sailors Military Museum and Memorial last month.

Chaplains not only fulfill the services’ First Amendment religion obligation; they are “visible reminders of the holy” to troops in situations that can often seem to epitomize the unholy.

The Army Chaplaincy is stretched to the brink trying to ensure that servicemen and women have access to chaplains, typically troops’ most proximal and trusted humanitarian resource. Each service has its own chaplain staff, but the Army supplies the majority of chaplains who go to Iraq.

The Army is currently trying to fill 452 chaplain vacancies, said Lt. Col. Randall Dolinger, spokesman for the Army Office of the Chief of Chaplains. The most pronounced shortages were in the reserves and National Guard, with a particularly acute shortfall of Roman Catholic priests, he said.

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Posted in * Culture-Watch, Military / Armed Forces

4 comments on “Army Puts out a Call for more Chaplains

  1. AnglicanFirst says:

    When a clergyman is not available in extremsis, life and death, situations then in most Christian/Jewish traditions is permissible for a layman to perform certain critical/important congregational and sacremental funtions.

    If there is a problem in fulfilling these functions in a combat environment, then it is the responsibility of a military serivice’s chief of chaplains to ensure that his chaplains take actions to ensure that the military laity are properly instructed and supported to fulfill those critical functions.

    The problem of unfilled military chaplain positions should be addressed by all believers within their religious organizations.

    That problem is their problem and not a problem of the military services.

  2. ruidh says:

    Of course, a possible alternative is bringing the troops home.

  3. Tom Roberts says:

    #2’s recommendation is nearly irrelevant. There has been a decades long shortage of Episcopal priests in the Army Chaplain Corps. Their stationing locations haven’t changed that a bit. The sectarian surpluses, if any, lie with the Baptists and Methodists. I also suspect that the Mormons are proportionally represented.
    Perhaps ruidh meant to suggest bringing the troops home and reducing the size of the armed services….?

  4. libraryjim says:

    If we bring the troops home from Iraq, we will only re-deploy them to another country (Darfur?) that is approved by the U.N. and the Democratic Party. So the same need will exist for the Chaplain Corps.