Where Did All the Chaplains Go?

Posted by on Aug 13, 2013 in Military Prayer | Comments Off on Where Did All the Chaplains Go?

Part 1

The Chaplain Corps’ budget is experiencing severe cut backs as the psychiatrists and psychologists replace chaplains in the US military. Total chaplain authorizations in 2012 were projected to be 2,846 among active, reserve, and guard personnel. Total military personnel at end of fiscal year 2011 was 2,256,600 making the ratios of active duty personnel to chaplains according to 2010 chaplain positions[1]:

Service Branch

Number of Chaplains

Ratio Troops to Chaplains







Air Force



This marks a significant move by the Department of Defense from chaplain services to “mental health” counseling.  An August 2010 Department of Defense 233-page report on suicide prevention in the Armed Forces offered as a solution a singular focus on mental health services.  Under the National Defense Authorization Act of 2010, all services must increase mental health services positions by 25%.

Chaplains “contribute greatly to the Air Force mission and to joint operations,” Col. Joan Garbutt, Military Force Management Policy Division chief, said in a written statement to Stars and Stripes. But with high retention, the chaplain corps has grown too big, she said, adding, “We are merely trying to move the chaplain corps toward the right size for the Air Force.”   The Air Force scheduled 79 chaplain positions for elimination in 2011 and 2012.  There are no current statistics available for chaplain positions.

The Air Force, with 724 currently funded mental health positions, announced the new positions will be filled with psychiatrists, psychologists, social workers, and psychiatric nurses. In addition, the House amended next year’s National Defense Authorization Act to increase spending for mental health care by $10 million dollars.  Rep. Leonard Boswell made the plea for additional spending beside a life sized image of the Time Magazine cover dated July 23, 2012, depicting the “suicide crisis” in the military to make his appeal.  The co-sponsor of the amendment, Rep. Jim McDermott, D-Wash., called for “development and retention of top-tier psychological health talent for our military at this time.”

Under the guidance of the therapeutic professions, the only balm for war-wearied souls is found in their repertoire of psychotropic drugs and cognitive behavioral therapy.


Are you a chaplain?  How has this cut back affected you and what can we do to help?  Post a comment and let us know.

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