What Army Chaplains Do

As an Army chaplain, you will have the responsibility of caring for the spiritual well-being of Soldiers and their Families. An Army chaplain's parish can consist of over 1,500 people. For this reason, the Army chaplain is crucial to the success of the Army's mission. Exercising leadership in things that are spiritual requires a special person with a unique calling.

The Army Chaplaincy is a religiously diverse population reflecting the diversity of the Army, yet each chaplain must minister in accordance with the guidelines of their distinct faith group. Army Chaplains oversee the spiritual care of their assigned units wherever they may train or deploy. They also assist with the congregational care of their assigned posts by performing religious ceremonies, rituals, and rites in accordance with their respective faiths.

Unlike most officers in the Army, a chaplain begins serving as a staff officer immediately. As a member of the commander's special staff, the chaplain is responsible for providing advice in matters pertaining to religion, morals, and morale. The chaplain serves the Army with a chaplain assistant (56M) as part of a Unit Ministry Team (UMT). As a non-combatant, chaplains do not possess a weapon. The chaplain assistant provides security for the UMT and assists with the administrative aspects of the UMT's ministry. Fully trained in the technical arena of religious support and Soldier-specific tasks, chaplain assistants are an integral part of the UMT's ministry and mission.

Chaplains do not go through regular Basic Training. Instead, they attend the Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course (CHBOLC), which is a 12-week course taught at Fort Jackson, S.C. This course provides an introduction to Chaplain common core skills, Army writing, and Chaplaincy specific training. 

Other roles and responsibilities common to the chaplaincy:
 

  • Overseeing a full program of religious ministries, including workshops, counseling sessions, religious education and special events.

  • Officiating at official ceremonies such as military functions, funerals, and memorials.

  • Providing Ministry to a variety of armed service personnel and civilians from the US, foreign nations, and governmental agencies.

 

Army Chaplain Candidate Program

You do not need to wait until ordination to join the Army Chaplaincy. You can train to become an Army Chaplain at the same time you are training for the ministry. The training and experience you will receive as a Chaplain Candidate will be a rich addition to your ministerial education and training.  All Chaplain Candidates are commissioned officers, assigned to the Army Reserve in the Chaplain Branch.

Chaplain Basic Officer Leadership Course

All Chaplain Candidates are encouraged to attend the Chaplain Basic Officers Leadership Course (CHBOLC). CHBOLC is 12 weeks long and is offered three times a year (winter, summer, and fall). Normally a candidate does the first half of CHBOLC (Chaplain Initial Military Training/CIMT and Phase 1) as soon as possible since it is a prerequisite for all other training in the Chaplain Candidate Program. Once halfway through their qualifying degree, Chaplain Candidates can complete Phases II and III. Candidates who enter the Chaplain Candidate Program after the half-way point of their graduate program may complete all of CHBOLC at one time.

Paid Practicums

A Chaplain Candidate may train up to 30 days each year under the supervision of a senior chaplain at a military installation. This training called a "practicum," is offered to all candidates once they have completed Phase 1 of CHBOLC.

Practicums vary in type and location.  They include broad-based experiences at active duty installations, West Point's summer camp, ROTC's Cadet summer camp, Army Reserve Commands, garrison ministries, combat ministries, medical training, and administrative support.

Practicums, which may vary in length from a minimum of 12 days to 30 days may be done at most any time of the year.

Downloadable Documents

If you would like to download printable documents that contain all of the information detailing the information about Army Chaplains please click on the corresponding documents below. For individuals that are using mobile devices or do not have Microsoft office readily available we recommend downloading the Adobe PDF.

 

Word Document on Army Chaplaincy

 

Adobe PDF on Army Chaplaincy

Chaplain's Annual Report PDF

Memorandum of Instruction M19 event