Chaplaincy in the Army offers unique opportunities for qualified religious leaders. They can serve both their God and their country by giving servicemembers and their families guidance, support and spiritual nourishment in times of peace and in times of crisis. Religious affiliation doesn't matter. In fact, the Army encourages each chaplain to preach what she believes in, as long as she respects the religious diversity of her "flock." Chaplains do deploy. How often and where to depends on the needs of the Army during her time of service.
Chaplains should expect to be deployed soon after their commissioning, according to the Foursquare Church. Deployments last from 12 to 15 months at a time and can send a chaplain anywhere the Army needs her to go, including Kuwait, Iraq and Afghanistan. Chaplains who agree to more than one tour with the Army, or who decide to make it a career, will be deployed more than once. Spouses and children stay behind when chaplains deploy.
Chaplains and their families also move every two to three years, says the Foursquare Church. A career chaplain typically moves 10 to 11 times before her retirement. They move to fill vocational spots and to advance their training. They can move anywhere in the U.S. the Army needs them to, and may even relocate overseas if necessary. Housing is available on base, or chaplains can choose to use their housing allowances to find a home off-site to rent or buy.
A single chaplain may find traveling the world and committing to long deployments exciting. However, families may find the schedule demanding. The Army stresses the importance of weighing the benefits and drawbacks before deciding to join. Each time you deploy, you'll miss at least a year of your children's lives, and your marriage will suffer the strain of loneliness. Moving means packing and uprooting your spouse from a home he may have gotten comfortable with. Your children will have to start afresh at new schools, leaving the friends they'd made behind. It's very important that your family is united in the decision to live a military lifestyle.
Chaplains must be qualified clergy people who hold bachelor's degrees of at least 120 credit hours, says the U.S. Army, and who are endorsed by their religious organization. They must be U.S. citizens, or legal residents, between the ages of 18 and 39. They must be sensitive to the spiritual needs of people from diverse cultural and religious backgrounds. They must be equal to the physical and emotional stresses they'll encounter, including witnessing death in war zones, conducting funeral services, comforting soldiers who have lost loved ones and comrades and helping families stay together when one of them is deployed.
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