Americas

Nurturing the Living

The Army chaplain shortage is less about low numbers than about redefining what chaplains are for.

The Army chaplaincy, which is going through a much-publicized shortage, has actually grown, not shrunk, over the last decade.

The shortage began in 1998 as the direct result of a reversal in peacetime policy, says Lt. Col. Randall Dolinger, a spokesman for the Army Chief of Chaplains Office. The Army, as usual during peacetime, had quietly reduced the number of active-duty chaplains during the 1990's. Following the 1997 scandal at Aberdeen Proving Grounds, where twelve instructors were charged with sexual misconduct, there was an outcry for the proportions of chaplains to troops to be raised again.

Chaplains are in the Army "to nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the dead" and to make sure each soldier has the opportunity to worship as he or she wants. Now, they have taken on a new role as a force to make the abuse of power seen at Aberdeen less likely. In response, the Army invited reserve chaplains back into active duty and began to recruit.

For the army chaplaincy, the ...

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