July 29th is the anniversary of the founding of the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps. The Chaplain Corps has been an important part of the military since the beginning of the country and continues to fill a vital role as spiritual advisors within the armed forces.
Primary Duties of a Chaplain
Chaplains are charged with seeing after the spiritual welfare of the soldiers in the military. Chaplains are non-combat personnel, like medics. U.S. Army chaplains are not allowed to be armed in combat.
Chaplains conduct religious services, offer counseling to the soldiers under their care, and provide moral support to the Army. Chaplains help soldiers deal with difficult moral and personal issues. Chaplains serve all the members of their unit, regardless of the religious beliefs held by the soldiers.
Establishing the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps
The day the Continental Congress committed itself to declaring independence from the British crown, it immediately began organizing an army. The Congress saw the establishment of chaplains as a key part of organizing an army.
On July 29th, 1775 the Continental Congress officially authorized one chaplain for each regiment of the Continental Army. Most of the state and local militias that fought alongside the Continental Army also brought their own chaplains.
Since the first days of the Revolutionary War, in 1775, chaplains have served in the army during both wartime and peacetime. As the faces of the country and the army have changed, the chaplains have changed as well.
During the Mexican War, Roman Catholic chaplains served in the U.S. Army for the first time. Jewish and African American chaplains first began serving during the Civil War.
Facts About the U.S. Army Chaplain Corps
- The U.S. Army Chaplain Corps has its own insignia for each religion. We offer the Christian Chaplain boat flag
- Five major faith groups are represented in the U.S. Army Chaplain Corp: Catholic, Protestant, Jewish, Muslim, and Buddhist
- Chaplains come from 120 different denominations
- U.S. Army chaplains are all officers who are aided in their duties by enlisted men and women serving as assistants
- The first female U.S. Army chaplain, Reverend Alice M. Henderson, was commissioned in 1974
- There are 1,300 active duty U.S. Army chaplains and 1,200 chaplains serving in reserve units
- The U.S. Army Chaplain Corp motto is Pro Deo Et Patria (For God and Country)
Like other members of the U.S. Army, chaplains are deeply committed to maintaining the freedom and liberty that make the United State of America special. They serve with honor and distinction. On July 29th of each year, we have a chance to celebrate and remember the special role chaplains play in our country.