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Nature of the Work
As an Army Chaplain you will have the responsibility of caring for the spiritual well-being of Soldiers and their families. The Army Chaplaincy includes Ministers, Priests, Imams and Rabbis. Army Chaplains are the spiritual leaders of the Army and they perform religious ceremonies from births and baptisms, to confirmations and marriage, to illness and last rites.
As a Chaplain Officer, you will lead a Unit Ministry Team (UMT), which consists of you and a trained Chaplain Assistant. Since a Chaplain is a non-combatant, you do not carry a weapon at any time. Your Chaplain Assistant provides security for the UMT. They're fully trained on the conduct of worship services, as well as Soldier-specific tasks.
The responsibilities of an Army Chaplain include:
- Commanding and controlling a Unit Ministry Team during combat and peacetime.
- Coordinating/directing a full program of religious ministries, including workshops, pastoral counseling, religious education and other activities.
- Developing doctrine, organizations and ceremonies for unique chaplain missions.
- Instructing chaplain skills to Chaplain Assistants
- Serving as spiritual advisor to other units, including Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve organizations.
To be an Officer in the Army Chaplain Corps, you must obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement from your faith group. This endorsement should certify that you are:
- A clergy person in your denomination or faith group.
- Qualified spiritually, morally, intellectually and emotionally to serve as a Chaplain in the Army.
- Sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.
- Possess a baccalaureate degree of not less than 120 semester hours.
- Possess a master's degree in divinity or a graduate degree in theological studies, which includes at least 72 hours.
Chaplains do not go through Basic Training. Instead, they attend the Chaplain Officer Basic Course (CHOBC), which is a 12-week course taught at Fort Jackson, S.C. It will provide you with an introduction to the non-combatant common core skills, Army writing and Chaplaincy-specific training. The Army will neither require nor allow you to bear arms as part of your military duties.
Being a leader in the Army requires certain qualities. A leader exhibits self-discipline, initiative, confidence and intelligence. They are physically fit and can perform under physical and mental pressures. Leaders make decisions quickly, always focusing on completing the mission successfully, and show respect for their subordinates and other military officers. Leaders lead from the front and adjust to environments that are always changing. They are judged by their ability to make decisions on their own and bear ultimate moral responsibility for those decisions.
1. You must obtain an ecclesiastical endorsement from your faith group. This endorsement should certify that you are:
a. A clergy person in your denomination or faith group.
b. Qualified spiritually, morally, intellectually and emotionally to serve as a Chaplain in the Army.
c. Sensitive to religious pluralism and able to provide for the free exercise of religion by all military personnel, their family members and civilians who work for the Army.
2. Educationally, you must:
a. Possess a baccalaureate degree of not less than 120 semester hours.
b. Possess a master's degree in divinity or a graduate degree in theological studies, which includes at least 72 hours.
3. Applicants for active duty MUST be U.S. citizens. Permanent residents can ONLY apply for the Army Reserve.
4. Be able to receive a favorable background check.
5. Pass a physical exam.
Army Chaplains may continue to specialize and serve in the Chaplaincy at ever increasing levels of leadership and responsibility.
Additional Chaplaincy training
Critical Incident Stress Debriefing
This training is acquired during the Chaplain Officers Basic Course in preparation for ministry to groups and individuals in crisis following a traumatic event.
Prevention and Relationship Enhancement Program (PREP)
This training is gained during the Chaplain Officers Basic Course and prepares Chaplains to conduct premarital marriage enrichment and education workshops. Chaplains completing the training are certified as PREP instructors.
Clinical Pastoral Counseling (CPE)
This training is normally offered to select Chaplains between their third and sixth year of Active Duty.
Advanced Civilian Education
Selected full-time Chaplains are sent to institutions of higher education to get a master's degree in areas such as Ethics, World Religions, Family Life and Resource Management.
- Officer's pay and allowances
- 30 days vacation earned annually
- Up to 10 days administrative leave annually
- Free on-post housing
- Medical and dental care
- Retirement plan with no paycheck deductions
- Up to $250,000 in life insurance at low rates
- Professional-grade sports facilities on-post
- Uniform allowance
While attending seminary, Chaplain Candidates may apply for tuition assistance through the U.S. Army Reserve. You may be eligible for up to 100% of the tuition costs, up to $250 per credit hour with a maximum cap of $4500 per year. This program requires service of at least four years in a U.S. Army Reserve unit once you become a qualified Chaplain.
Army Reserve Chaplain Bonus
The Army Reserve is now offering a bonus of up to $10,000 for unit Chaplains. Individuals who enter the Army Reserve to serve six years as a Reserve Troop Program Unit Chaplain may be eligible for a bonus of up to $10,000.
The bonus is payable in a lump sum following the completion of the Chaplain Officer Basic Course, which must be completed within 36 months of commissioning.
Being an Officer in the Army Chaplain Corps, you will have the same qualifications to practice your specialty in the civilian world.
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