The Role of A Military Chaplain

Father Thomas Maikowski serves as the pastoral administrator for the Immaculate Heart of Mary Catholic Church in northern Arizona. In October 2009, Father Thomas Maikowski retired from his position with the United States Air Force as a Catholic military chaplain after more than 25 years of service. Military chaplains are commissioned officers in the Armed Forces of the United States who provide spiritual support for soldiers and their families.

Military chaplains, who come from diverse backgrounds, are endorsed by their respective religions denominations. All chaplains minister according to the tenets of their faith. Their role in the military involves serving as an advisor on religious, morale, and moral matters and overseeing unit and base religious programs, which include counseling sessions, workshops, and religious education. Duties include offering religious ministry to armed forces personnel and civilians, conducting worship, providing combat stress interventions, and officiating at ceremonies such as memorials and military functions.

In order to become military chaplains, clergy persons must obtain a baccalaureate degree of at least 120 semester hours and complete at least 72 hours of graduate work in theological or religious studies. In addition, they must exhibit sensitivity towards religious pluralism. Clergy persons must also prove themselves qualified for army service morally, spiritually, intellectually, and emotionally. Although the job requires no basic combat training, individuals must instead participate in chaplain training courses or candidate programs, which can vary by state and local military installation.