THE WORK OF THE CHAPLAIN
Each Post has a Chaplain, but how many of you really know what a Chaplain is supposed to do? Most comrades think that all the Chaplain does is show up at the Post meetings and read the perfunctory Ritual prayers. But that is surely not the real work of the Chaplain. In fact, most of the work done by the Chaplain takes place outside of the Post meeting, and if done well, goes unnoticed by virtually everyone in the Post.
First, the Chaplain nurtures the living. We do this by spending time with our fellow comrades, and when the need arises, we help them with life situations. Every one of us needs a trusted friend and confidant to turn to in times of disappointment and distress. At times, we must confront harmful and destructive behaviors. However, the Chaplain is not only there to help navigate comrades tough through times, but we are also there to offer encouragement and wise counsel as well.
Second, the Chaplain cares for the dying. Whether in the hospital or at home, the Chaplain is there to offer supportive care to dying comrades and their families. We help them as they transition to glory and assure the person that he or she will not suffer or die alone. During this time of transition, the Chaplain encourages the expression of personal feelings, anxieties, and thoughts concerning dying and the afterlife.
In caring for the dying, the Chaplain helps the person achieve a comfortable death in all areas: spiritual, emotional, and physical as the comrade transitions from his time on earth to his eternal home in glory.
Third, the Chaplain honors the dead. Working closely with the immediate family, the Chaplain ensures there is a proper burial and memorial service for the deceased. At each of our Post meetings we have a moment of silence to remember our departed. And each of our Posts has a plaque dedicated to our deceased comrades. In addition, each District is to hold an annual Memorial Service. According to Section 418 of the Manual of Procedure, during the annual District Convention, the District Chaplain shall see that a fitting tribute is paid to our departed 6 comrades. Memorial Services are also held each year at the State Conventions and at the National Convention.
WHAT THE CHAPLAIN PROVIDES
The Chaplain is there to provide:
1. SPIRITUAL GUIDANCE: The Chaplain is available to help individuals and their families with their spiritual needs.
2. ASSISTANCE IN EMERGENCY SITUATIONS: In times of crises such as hospitalization, injury, or death, the Chaplain will help and provide assistance to veterans and their families.
3. CONDUCTING/ASSISTING AT FUNERALS: The Chaplain is available to assist families with funeral arrangements, to officiate at the service, or to assist the family minister. Additionally, the Chaplain can help with organizing an honor guard, having a bugler present at the cemetery, and having a presentation of the flag as a token of service and honor on behalf of the local Post and fellow veterans of military service.
4. COUNSELING: The Chaplain is available to provide pastoral care and counsel, and when necessary, to help veterans and their families find appropriate resources for dealing with such issues as post-traumatic stress disorder, substance abuse, or other critical incident stress management problems.
5. VISITATION: Visitation with veterans and their families to provide comfort and encouragement is an important function of the Chaplain.
6. ATTENDING FUNCTIONS: The Chaplain may be called upon to represent the Post at official functions or public meetings, and the Chaplain may be asked to give invocations, dedicatory prayers, or benedictions. We must be reminded that the Veterans of Foreign Wars is comprehensive in nature, embracing all religions and faith groups within its ranks. The Chaplaincy, being non-sectarian, must seek to minister to the needs of all, without regard to either church/synagogue/mosque affiliation or non-affiliation.
Post 1622 - Lomita