I’m a couple of months late with this post, but if you follow this blog you will understand that things have been pretty crazy around here as my wife and I prepare for the arrival of baby number one. I spent the better part of last spring and summer preparing and submitting my packet for the Guard and getting my endorsement taken care of through the North American Mission Board. For any Chaplain Candidates who are at that stage or about to reach it, my best advice is to be both patient and persistent. The amount of paperwork I had to do for my accessioning packet was pretty incredible. There were days when I would sit at my computer digging through my military records to send them to the NCO handling my packet while simultaneously filling out new forms she would email to me. It was definitely not a fun process and seemed to drag on for a long time. From the time I started the accessioning/endorsement process until the time I actually boarded and was commissioned as a Chaplain was close to nine months. I’ve known people who have pushed their packet through more quickly, but that was usually because they were slotted for a deployment. I don’t know if my time frame was typical or not, but from what I remember about the paperwork process just to get into the Candidate program it took nearly that long too.
I say all that to encourage you not to get frustrated when the process seems to take forever. That’s the Army. Hang in there and when forms or other items are requested from you get them done ASAP in order to keep the process moving forward.
I finally boarded and was promoted in January from 1LT to CPT. I attended my first drill in February as a Chaplain. As of today I have attended two drills as a Chaplain and I have really enjoyed them thus far. It’s nice to be assigned to a unit and to be able to start building relationships with people. In other words, at least for me, the transition from Candidate to Chaplain has been both smooth and welcome. Yes, there’s increased responsibility but there is also increased independence and respect. I’m very glad that I gutted out seminary and finished it up in a reasonable amount of time rather than prolonging both the education process and the candidate program. It’s worth it to take an extra class every semester in order to finish school on time, get your cross, and start your ministry as a Chaplain.
I still have hopes of going active duty in the future. Right now I’m content with being a Chaplain to an awesome group of Guard soldiers (some of whom I’ve known since back in my enlisted days) and hopefully soon finding a church in which to serve.
I will continue to post about relevant things that happen during my Chaplaincy ministry so check back regularly if you are looking for more information as to what the routine of a Chaplain in the Army National Guard looks like!