What does a Marine Chaplain do?

Patrick Roland

Marines have a reputation for being the first soldiers into a situation and the last ones to leave. Within these tough corps of men and women also are spiritual leaders known as chaplains. A Marine chaplain helps Marines of all faiths to overcome spiritual crises, performs religious services and acts as an ambassador of the Marines. This job provides an opportunity to serve one's country, maintain a spiritual life and see the world.

A Marine chaplain may help marines overcome spiritual crises.
A Marine chaplain may help marines overcome spiritual crises.

The role of Marine chaplain has a strict set of educational and physical requirements for all applicants. A future Marine chaplain must have a bachelor's degree and at least 120 hours of study at an accredited seminary program. It is important for students to learn not only their own religion but also the belief systems of many other religions in order to relate with soldiers of all faiths. In addition to a strong spiritual base, Marine chaplains also must pass the Marines' physical requirements.

Chaplains may be tasked with leading prayer.
Chaplains may be tasked with leading prayer.

The daily duties of a Marine chaplain revolve around providing spiritual assistance in a variety of settings. Ceremonial duties, such as weddings, funerals and giving last rights, can take up a large part of a chaplain's day. Another important job of a chaplain is leading prayer services for soldiers. In these situations, the chaplain's broad religious education allows him or her to cater to many religions and still provide a strong message. Chaplains also frequently act as ambassadors of the Marines, visiting sick and needy around the area.

One of the most important jobs of a Marine chaplain is simply providing counsel to Marines. Soldiers frequently find themselves in moral and spiritual times of crisis during military service. A chaplain acts as a neutral party to talk with and gives advice when necessary.

Travel and risk are part of the job for a Marine chaplain, who is assigned — just like a soldier — where the need is the greatest. Marine chaplains are stationed around the world and frequently move to new locations. Chaplains are not combat soldiers and do not involve themselves with fighting, but they often are near the front lines of conflict. For this reason, chaplains must also be willing to take the risk associated with being near military skirmishes.

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