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By Tom Cole Marine Retired
AZBW WOT Special Features Writer 

Duties of a Chaplain

Series: Veterans In The News | Story 44

Mike Wintermantel

Austin Deuels's "The Chaplain"

In years past being a Chaplain in any service organization was usually pretty simple. You would do the standard prayers at meetings, blessings at dinners, the 7 o'clock toast, provide counseling to people for mostly mundane events and just generally help out people around you. It involved helping families of veterans to occasionally put to rest their loved ones, which were often rare events. And may I mention that Chaplains are, for the most part, ignored by the hierarchy of most organizations; kind of side-car buddies. In March of 2020 all that changed.

Covid Changed Everything!

In the month of March 2020 I started getting calls to preside over the many, many people who were passing. I was spending many weekend mornings and afternoons at the National Cemetery and at Churches and Synagogues throughout the Valley. Many of the people who "moved on" were great friends of mine. So many un-expected "passings": many Veterans from the wars: WW2, Korea, Vietnam, Iraq, Afghanistan; so many, in my opinion, too young to pass. I was asked to say prayers and a few words for each of them. As I said, many were close friends and many I didn't know so I had to research the person and then kick in the platitudes. Not an easy set of tasks. Not a lot of guidance.

No Training, No Rules

In the books I've read the Chaplain is supposed to "perform duties incident to the office as required". However, there is no training to perform these duties,no rules or guidelines that I have seen. So we, the Chaplains, are left to fend for ourselves, guided by God, Jesus Christ, Scripture, and the Holy Spirit, which are the best guides we have. Who Better?!

But, given this wonderful support, we are still human and endure the overwhelming heartbreak of what we have volunteered to go through and continue on as each service we attend seems to chip away at our hearts, our souls. PTSD!!!

Please Honor Your Chaplains

Most Chaplains always seem stoic and impartial. But with each person webless a piece of ourselves goes with those that depart. With each commutation a part of your Chaplain is taken away. It is, of course, replenished by the love of God, but recovery is sometimes a slow process.

Please honor your Chaplains and understand what they do and what they go through.

As not only a Chaplain, but also a Christian Minister; I can say the weddings I perform give me life, and the interments give me HOPE for the life after, which I know awaits us.

I would encourage you all to be kind, gracious, blessing, loving and patient with each other. The latter is the toughest!

God Bless All Here!!!


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