Army Chaplain History

As long as armies have existed, military chaplains have served alongside Soldiers, providing for their spiritual needs, working to improve morale and aiding the wounded. The Bible tells of the early Israelites bringing their priests into battle with them. Pagan priests accompanied the Roman Legions during their conquests; as Christianity became the predominant religion of the Roman Empire, Christian chaplains administered to Roman soldiers. In fact, the word chaplain is derived from cappa, the Latin word for cloak.

Chaplain Bradley Walgren leads a prayer at the 2016 Statewide Symposium in Support of Service Members, Veterans and their Families, at the Desert Willow conference center April 20-21.

The Chaplain Corps provides counseling services for spiritual and non-spiritual issues to Soldiers wherever they serve. Since the Corps was established on July 29, 1775, about 25,000 chaplains have served.
“Military life brings on stress with other members of your unit, with your family and with the citizens of the countries where you are deployed. It also brings morale conflicts,” Michael Wold, regional coordinator of Institute for Healing of Memories. “Chaplains have a unique ability to counsel on all types of personal matters because the conversations are held confidential not unlike those between attorney and client.”
“Chaplains are combat multipliers by connecting Soldiers with a larger, more meaningful vision than self-sustainment,” said Chaplain Bradley Walgren . “We are constant reminders of the divine graces found in loyalty, duty, respect, selfless service, honor, integrity and personal courage.”
The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps is one of the oldest and smallest branches of the Army. The Chaplain Corps dates back to 29 July 1775, when the Continental Congress authorized one chaplain for each regiment of the Continental Army, with pay equaling that of a captain. In addition to chaplains serving in Continental regiments, many militia regiments counted chaplains among their ranks.
Since the War for Independence, chaplains have served in every American war. Over that period, the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps has evolved, with the addition of Roman Catholic chaplains in the Mexican War, and Jewish and African American chaplains during the Civil War. The position of chaplain assistant was created to support the work of chaplains.
In January 1979, the Army commissioned its first female chaplain. Today, some 1,300 active duty Army chaplains and 1,200 in the reserve components, represent five major faiths groups (Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist.)

While their duties are primarily focused on spiritual and moral issues, many chaplains have also demonstrated tremendous bravery. Stories abound of chaplains administering the last rites to fallen soldiers, oblivious to the fire around them, or dashing out into the open to rescue the wounded without regard to their own lives. Five chaplains earned the Medal of Honor for their bravery, the most recent award made posthumously to Chaplain (MAJ) Charles J. Watters in November 1969. Dozens of others have made the ultimate sacrifice, living up to the Chaplain Corps motto, Pro Deo Et Patria (For God and Country).

Original article:
Soldiers Supported by the Chaplain Corps 
Taken from a Story by Spc. Elizabeth Smith  
123rd Mobile Public Affairs Detachment   
Photo by Staff Sgt. Alexander Henninger   
173rd Airborne Brigade   
GRAFENWOEHR, Germany -- U.S. Army Chaplain Cpt. John McDougall, chaplain for 2nd Battalion, 503rd Infantry Regiment (Airborne), 173rd Airborne Brigade, observes training during exercise Eagle Strike on October 23rd, 2017. The 173rd Airborne Brigade is the U.S. Army’s Contingency Response Force in Europe, providing rapidly deploying forces to the U.S. Army Europe, Africa and Central Command Areas of Responsibility within 18 hours. 

Published by Sheri Smith, President

Navy Veteran. President and Founder of Warriors and Rodeo, a 501C3 non-profit.

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