WASHINGTON -- In early August, a small group of soldiers, airmen and their spouses gathered at a Panera Bread restaurant near Fort Meade, Md., to talk about the meaning of faith and how to share their convictions about life's deepest questions.
As they sipped coffee and nibbled pastries, the scene might have passed for a low-key Wednesday night Bible study except for one thing -- the members of the newly formed ATOM, or Atheists of Meade group, didn't have any Bibles. Their belief system, they say, stops at the boundaries of the natural world.
This article is quite long. but a worthwhile read. I'm surprised something like this even made it to military.com.
I had a very good friend when I was in the AF who married a chaplin. He was UU and not very respected by the other chaplins, although he was probably the best trained hardest working one of all. He said most of the other chaplins had no training whatsoever in counseling and didn't seem much interested in getting any. As a UU, he was a non believer,but he had extensive training and experience in counseling which was the main thing he did. Often the other chaplins refused to do the non spiritual parts of their job like the ethics training classes required for all basic trainees (this was Lackland) and doing any sort of counseling.
I will never forget one night I was out to dinner with my friends, when a First Sgt called and begged the chaplin to come in because a basic trainee was suicidal after learning his parents were both killed in a car accident. The on duty chaplin gave the kid a lecture on the evils of suicide and then chewed the kid out for taking his time. The Shirt then called my friend who spent the night counseling the kid, arranging emergency leave and got Air Force aid to pay for his flight home. My friend complained frequently how the other chaplins would not do large sectors of their job.
In fact, even when I was religious, I have only met a few "good" chaplins. One even spent his six month tdy in the desert dead drunk. In fact, since the majority of a tdy chaplin's job is counseling, they might as well send a psychologist out instead of a chaplin. At least the psychologist would be trained and willing to do their chosen profession which is a lot more than you can say about most chaplins. The problem is the military has a real bias against psychologists to the point of considering everyone who goes to one crazy or in some way defective which is just crap. Often the most screwed up people won't set foot in a shrinks' office and it's not because they are afraid of retribution, it's because they think they are fine. It's the ones who want help and would seek help in a retribution free environment who are fine military members who just need a little help - who are loosing out. It's way past time to get chaplins out of the counseling business they don't seem to like anyway and give up this stupid superstition against secular psychologists. The science behind cognitive therapy has been there for decades. It's way past time for the military to join the modern world in it's thinking about psychotherapy.
I'm sad to see from your post Justalyn that nothing has changed since I was in the Air Force. :o(