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Wednesday, October 17, 2007

Chaplain Shortfalls Up Military Strain

From last night's ABC World News, a report on the spiritual comfort provided injured soldiers by our nation's military chaplains. Unfortunately, there is a severe shortage of these important personnel in the military today, with each deployed spiritual caregiver responsible for up to 1,000 soldiers the report says.

In educational interest, article(s) quoted from extensively.

In March, MSNBC reported on the problem as well:

Some Army National Guard units may have to deploy overseas without a chaplain if recruitment incentives, including $10,000 signing bonuses, don’t work to fill hundreds of vacant positions.

Some chaplains have served repeated overseas tours to help take up the slack.

“We’re all concerned that we don’t wear the guys out — there is a limit,” said Chaplain Lt. Col. Randall Dolinger, a spokesman for the Army Chief of Chaplains Office in Arlington, Va.

The Army National Guard has 310 chaplain vacancies. That’s 40 percent of its authorized level, but so far the Guard has not been forced to deploy units without a chaplain, Dolinger said.

Vacancies soared after 2001, when many chaplains moved to active duty in the Army. Filling the openings has been difficult because faith leaders have been deterred by the likelihood of long and repeated deployments to Iraq and Afghanistan, Dolinger said. ...

The shortage is largely an Army National Guard problem, with the Air National Guard at 85 percent of its quota. Army National Guard officials said they have a tougher challenge because unlike the Air National Guard, their units are scattered and demand more chaplains. Active duty services also have managed to fill most of their chaplain slots, Dolinger said.

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