US Military Chapels Protect Weapons Systems

Articles from Iraq and Afghanistan highlight the importance of the military Chaplaincy and Chapels for US servicemembers deployed to war.

First, an Air Force article from Joint Base Balad, Iraq, notes the goals military members set in the deployed environment:

Many people on a deployment create goals such as getting in better physical shape or taking educational classes, but there is another area that is sometimes forgotten…spiritual fitness.

and the military’s remedy to the comprehensive fitness servicemembers need:

The mission of the…Wing Chapel is to ensure the free exercise of religion and promote spiritual fitness for the human weapon systems.

Chaplain (Col) George Meister explained the importance of the Chapel’s contribution to the getting the mission done: 

“The impact of a person’s heart, soul and spirit has as much to do with the ability to accomplish the mission as the mind and body,” said Chaplain (Col.) George Meister…

US military Chaplains provide a wide array of support mechanisms to men and women deployed in military operations:

Another important role of the Chapel is to provide spiritual and pastoral counseling in many areas such as problem solving, relationships, workplace conflict, ethical, moral and spiritual issues and combat stress for all of JBB.

From Afghanistan, Chaplain (Capt) Michael Willer spoke of the connex Chapel and the role of Soldiers’ faith in combat:

Willer does far more than hold a Saturday night and Sunday morning service. He handles Red Cross messages for soldiers, and has the difficult task of holding memorial services as well. He also travels between the other forward operating bases and combat outposts were the Red Bulls have soldiers, tending to their religious needs.

The Chaplain notes the freedom military members have to exercise their religious beliefs even when a Chaplain isn’t present:

He said numerous soldiers at the smaller and more remote FOBs and COPs in Laghman province have brought their bibles and read them regularly, as well as host prayer groups and bible studies on their own to keep the faith.

Wherever members of the military go — even to a warzone — they can get the moral and spiritual resources and support they need.  When they are remote, they are free to practice and share their faith with their fellow Soldiers, Sailors, Marines, and Airmen.

One comment

  • … and promote spiritual fitness for the human weapon systems.

    What an unfortunate way for chaplains to describe human beings.

    Of course, human beings are more important to victory in combat than tanks or missiles, but can’t we find a way to say that doesn’t equate human beings with tanks or missiles? Service members are not machines. They have intrinsic value as human beings, and not merely instrumental value as weapons systems.

    Commanders want to keep their Soldiers, Airmen and Marines in the fight and understandably see chaplains as helping them accomplish that task. The irony is that chaplains can only accomplish what the commander wants if they honor service members’ humanity apart from their military utility.

    Chaplains help combatants retain their humanness in the midst of the horrors of war. To do so, they can’t see themselves, and others cannot see them, as the spiritual equivalent of tank mechanics or missile systems technicians. Chaplains have to honor the dignity and value of every human being apart from their military usefulness.