The Armed Forces, while composed of men and women joined by a common bond of courage, is also a community where people of different religious beliefs come together. And just as our soldiers’ – especially deployed soldiers’ – physical and emotional needs are taken care of, programs also exist to cater to their specific spiritual needs.
The military chaplain is as much an integral part of a military camp as any combat soldier. They may not carry weapons or take part in actual combat, but they are there still in the midst of the war zone, witnesses to the horrors of war. What makes them important is the fact that when all else has failed and when everything seems to be downhill, they provide much needed counsel and support to the soldier who needs it the most.
From Korea to Iraq, chaplains of different faiths have served willingly and courageously. In Camp Taji, Iraq, where soldiers from the 189th Combat Sustainment Support Battalion from Fort Bragg, North Carolina conduct tactical convoy operations in the Iraqi countryside, Chaplain (CPT) Cheun Yoo would send them off at 9 pm each night with a prayer. He would then continue his vigil until they all safely return at 4 am the following morning.
For those who have to make the ultimate sacrifice, the military chaplain is there to take care of their needs for the after life as well. During his 15-month deployment to Iraq, Chaplain (CPT) Edward Choi saw the martyrdom of 31 soldiers and conducted 18 memorial services.
They are pastors and priests, rabbis and Imams. They practice different beliefs, but they all come together for the same purpose – to be of service not just to God, Yahweh and Allah, but to their motherland as well and the people who spend each day in her defense.