Service Members Overwhelm Diminishing Chaplain Corps

Posted by on Aug 14, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on Service Members Overwhelm Diminishing Chaplain Corps

Part 2

img-lrgheader-military-prayAs the therapeutic profession grows and budget cuts provide fewer chaplains, the chaplain’s counseling schedule soars. From 2007 to 2009, combat-stress counseling cases jumped 350 percent. Overall, chaplains’ counseling sessions have increased 37 percent across all service branches from 2007 to 2009. The DoD Task Force on Mental Health in 2007 found that service members are much more likely to see a chaplain than a mental health worker. Yet, the Department of Defense continues to call for more mental health services and cuts chaplain positions. Col. Harry Mathis reported that in 2008, Air Force Chaplains were averaging about 10,000 counseling sessions per month, significantly more than the other helping professions that offer counseling services. 

In the no-prayer environment in the U.S. military, where 98% of those claiming a religious affiliation self-profess Christianity, we would do well to look to the eternal truths known to all mighty men of valor. The Psalmist David, who was certainly well versed in the principles of military warfare, wrote that one generation must tell the next to set their hope in God, and do not forget his works.[1]

The founding principles of the military have been all but abandoned, and the thousands of World War II soldiers, who declared prayer to be a primary source of moral support, are forgotten.  Five-star General George C. Marshall was one of America’s foremost soldiers during World War II.  He served as Army Chief of Staff from 1939 to 1945, and built and directed the largest army in history.  General Marshall said,

…I look upon the spiritual life of the soldier as even more important than his physical equipment…the soldier’s heart, the soldier’s spirit, the soldier’s soul are everything.  Unless the soldier’s soul sustains him, he cannot be relied upon and will fail himself and his commander and his country in the end.  It’s morale, and I mean morale, which wins the victory in the ultimate, and that type of morale can only come out of the religious fervor in his soul.  I count heavily on that type of man and that kind of Army.[2] 

Air Force spokesmen openly state that the elimination of chaplains is purely a financial decision.  Only the simplest thinking could hide the fact that millions of tax dollars are still available—but now instead of chaplains, they are allocated for mental health treatments, which define the soldier only in terms of mind and body.  For 230 years, the first principles of our military provided for a soldier’s soul and spirit, and the assaults of war which have been healed through leader-led prayer[3] and belief that “I will trust in my God and the United States of America,” are now defined as a mental “disorder” which is often treated with antidepressants.

As a member of the Armed Forces, what does having an available Chaplain mean to you?   Post a comment and share your opinion.

[1] Psalm 78:6-8

[2] Joint Pub 1-05.  Religious Ministry Support for Joint Operations.  Joint Chiefs of Staff.  26 August 1996, p. II-3.

[3]“The Studies in Social Psychology in World War II Series,” produced by the Social Science Research Council, was one of the largest social science research projects in history.  Volume II, The American Soldier, Combat and Its Aftermath, Princeton University Press, (1949), reported data on the importance of prayer to officers and enlisted infantrymen.  Prayer was selected most frequently as the soldier’s source of combat motivation.

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