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Your Chaplain is a Frontline Resource

Army Chaplain leading a service

Photo by U.S. Air Force Senior Airman Christopher Hubenthal

Military chaplains are a source of comfort for service members at home and abroad. This is especially the case on deployment when you face many forms of stress. You may see combat, be separated from family or feel alone, for example.

Confiding in a chaplain can help you cope with these hardships. Many chaplains are formally trained in counseling and crisis intervention. Also, because they deploy alongside service members, they understand much of what you are going through.

In cases where a chaplain can’t meet all your needs, they may still be a good first stop. It is likely that your chaplain can direct you to other services and programs, or additional support. This may include a psychological health care provider.

How Your Chaplain Can Help During a Deployment

When chaplains serve on a deployment, they:

  • Conduct religious services
  • Counsel service members
  • Support morale

Chaplains are mentors that work with all service members. No matter your rank, religious affiliation—or whether or not you are religious—they may be able to help you make sense of hard situations. This can be especially important on combat deployments where service members are most likely to have moral questions or experience loss.

That said, you should always speak with a health care provider if you are depressed, anxious or have other concerns. A chaplain may help you find a provider for medical concerns. With your permission, they may also work closely with your provider to complement your medical treatment with non-medical counseling. However, only a health care professional can diagnose you and create a treatment plan for conditions like anxiety, depression or posttraumatic stress disorder.

Never be afraid to approach your chaplain with a problem. If you are seeking spiritual guidance, you can expect a strong degree of confidentiality from your uniformed chaplain. And, with your permission, a chaplain can connect you to a health care provider.

After Deployment

Chaplains can be equally helpful when you return from deployment. They are a great source of support as you readjust to home life. In addition to coordinating religious services, chaplains can support you in garrison as you face challenges including:

  • Work issues
  • Marriage and family challenges
  • Grief and loss
  • Substance abuse
  • Anger management
  • Financial trouble

Chaplains also often develop religious education programs and youth activities, conduct seminars, and coordinate retreats for moral, spiritual and social development. You and your family can participate in many of these activities.

Contacting Your Chaplain

For many active duty service members, contacting your chaplain is as easy as walking to the nearest military chapel and making an appointment. If you don’t live near a military installation, contact the closest one and ask for assistance. Or, call Military OneSource at 1-800-342-9647.

But remember, chaplains are just one resource available to support your psychological health. You can also contact the Psychological Health Resource Center 24/7 to confidentially speak with trained health resource consultants. Call 866-966-1020 or use the Real Warriors Live Chat. Or, can also visit our “Seek Help, Find Care” page to see a list of key psychological health resources.

Additional Resources:

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