At some point in the far far future.

I re-enlisted this year and I briefly considered re classing to become a Chaplain's assistant. I figured, hell, there are more Atheists in the Army than Jews and the Jewish have their own spiritual support system, why not those of us in the ranks that don't need a magic friend?

I talked it over with my re-up NCO and the idea was promptly shot down. It would be better if I had stayed a Medic.

Well, the opportunity to re-class has come up and I need to hurry before I get my E-5. I love being a medic and all but I think it would be something to be one of the very very few Atheist Chaplain's assistants out there.

Any advice? Should I do it? Should I stay the course?

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Replies to This Discussion

Hello Paul,

I have to say I agree with SPC Kiger. Although I'm not a medic, you guys mean more than religion ever could! I really believe that you will find being a medic worth holding on to and more rewarding. People come to you for help--and you get to give it; people go to the chaplain for help--and they 'hope' they get it. It's commendable to want to be an activist, and I'm with you all the way there. However, to be honest I don't know how much light shedding you'd be able to do. As an E-4/5 you wouldn't be counseling anyone--just hauling bables to the next sermon, answering phone calls, and passing out literature that makes your skin crawl. Another thing to think about is that Chaplains have the ear of the BN/BDE CMDR; once word of your 'atheism' gets out it could work very negatively against professional development--regardless of your outstanding soldiering abilities. If you have a family you need to weigh fighting the good fight vs providing for them. Now, I think that if you were to use TA get your degree and switch to the officer side as a dirty "C' word..lol chaplain, you might have more influence. If not you'll at least be on better playing ground for the inevitable indepth discussions that are going to come your way--along with the "I'm holier than thou" attitudes.

Only you know how thick your skin is and how much you can seriously tolerate. Just remember that we don't have jobs you can just quit or switch if you don't like it or it is more than you bargained for. If you decide to move forward, all the luck in the world to you; if you don't--you can still be an activist. Good luck to you! Keep us posted!
No, definately don't become a chaplin's assistant. some really good points have already been listed. But the biggest thing is when your chap finds out that his assistant is preaching the opposite of what he is, all your couciler privilages will be taken. then your secretary to a dude who doesn't like you.

I actually contemplated becoming a Atheist Chaplin for a while. I had a few really awesome talks with my Co. Chaplin in Iraq, and i realized the only job i would enjoy more than the one i already have, is having conversations like those every day. I thought it would be awesome to show that a Secular person can be a perfect spiritual councilor with out the spirit. It would be revolutionary, and i would have liked to have a Atheist chaplin to talk to, so there is demand out there.

The Harsh reality eventually crashed my pretty dreams though. Chaplins aren't missionaries, though some seem that way. Chaplins are universal spiritual guides. They do services for every faith, and respect every faith. Though i know about as much as most chaplins do about Christianity and Judaism, and more than most about Islam, Hindu, Shinto and Buddism, I wouldn't feel comfortable holding services, nor would they feel comfortable coming to me with matters of the spirit and faith if they knew i had non.

Plus at least my chaplin did an awesome job of helping me with some issues with out bringing up a god or supernatural. So, Atheist chaplin, seems like a foolish thing. They aren't needed and they aren't wanted by anyone but non-believers. Thus the only point in doing it is to the first. To do something never done before. Thats not what motovates me. I hate it when people do things just because it's against the grain.
I honestly think I would be a HOOT!
Besides, just what does a Chaplin's assistant do?
Well, they work on Sunday's.
They have to work one night a week for the "Bible Study" or social hour.
They have to buy cookies and refreshments for these events.
If the Chaplain goes to the field you go with them.
When I was stationed at Benning I was in the HQ Company. We had two Chaplain assistants in the unit.
One was actually attached to the 10th Mountain (which was being built. this was in the 80s). They other was with the Jump School. She'd been to jump school and wore a maroon beret.
I'm sure there were other duties she had to do.
Oh you also have to help with units mobilizing. Handing out religious items.
I once interviewed the CSM Chaplin Assistant for V Corps way back when. He was pretty cool. He also had a pretty cool view on religion. He was more interested in the troops then the bible. Or religion. We talked a lot about soldiers needs in the religious aspect.
But I'd also take into consideration where this will take you career wise.
If your ASVAB scores are good enough, with your medical background, I'd look into going to the LVN course. You already have the medic course out of the way. That's the first step in that training.
You'd have to go back to Ft. Sam for the school.
But. BUT. You're job opportunities in the civilian world are much much better. Also after training you're about two years away from an RN degree. Bigger bucks. And a direct commission.
And....you don't have to deal with people speaking in tongues ....
Ah... Fort Sam. Nowhere else did test my fidelity to my wife and my tolerance for alcohol than Fort Slam You Some.

Good advice. Staying the medic path. Considering an ASI after my stint at Fort Leonard Wood, that is, if they'll take me. That's one of the benefits of being E-4 and below, you -can- reclass.
I hear ya. 3/19 here. Just hearing a female's voice was crazy.

And now, in an Armor unit, I think I have seen maybe a dozen non-Iraqi females this deployment and talked to maybe 2.
I don't think I'd have the stomach for it. It would bother me every day I had to sit through Sermons and hear what everyone had to say. I could never make it through the training either listening to all the religious people talking about it all of the time. Personally, I agree that medics are way more important than Chaplains. Personally, I would like to see the military chaplain and assistants disappear. I would strongly consider it before you decide to give up a job you like, one that is truly helpful, and has a civilian equivalent. I would also consider the type of strife it may cause in your unit which could cause problems for you. I could see getting in trouble if you are out with your Atheism. However, unlike everyone else I say if you really want to do it after you have thought about all that, go for it. Just be really sure because I foresee some major problems.
You know this got me wondering if an ordained secular humanist minister could be a military Chaplin. I wonder what the rules are exactly. I am sure there would be a fight but it does seem an interesting question. I'd love to see a secular humanist Chaplin!
I spoke with a Chaplain about varies religions and the ability to have Chaplain representation for those fringe type religions, and he told me that in order to represent a religion that there has to be an organized hierarchy that the Army can go to and certify you in that religion and verify that what you are teaching is in line with that organized belief system.
Thanks for the information. It's too bad.

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