Army chaplains – A hybrid ministry

Rabbis serve in their temples, Imams serve in their mosques, and ministers serve in their churches. While many religious leaders serve within the four walls of their congregation, the Army chaplains are boundless; they serve everywhere in the world!

Army baptism

This unique environment allows chaplains to provide a hybrid ministry, in which they serve Soldiers and their families of all religions (or no religion) through preaching, fellowship, counseling and leadership. Army chaplains play a hybrid role of not only religious leaders in pluralistic environments, but also counselors with listening ears and leaders with a moral compass.

We are endorsed by our distinct faith group and are expected to observe doctrines of our faith while also honoring the rights of others to observe their own faith. While serving our own faith group in the Army, we provide the means for others to observe their own faith in accordance with the United States law.

There are two options for serving as an Army chaplain.

First, active-duty chaplains serve almost every type of unit, including special operations, infantry, aviation, intelligence, hospitals, prisons, cyber, and community ministries. The Chaplain Corps also offers select chaplains advanced graduate degrees and specialized ministries in ethics, world religions, hospital ministry and marriage and family counseling.

Chaplains can be stationed in the United States or in one of 180 countries around the world. Chaplains are also a part of caring for the soldier’s family. Family members often need spiritual encouragement, counseling and prayer. Through leading worship, preaching, administering the sacraments and conducting retreats, chaplains execute a rich and full ministry to the Army.

Army Chaplain

Army chaplains serve in diverse environments, including hospitals, prisons, Special Operations, infantry, and aviation.

Second, the Army Reserve chaplains serve on a part-time basis. The Army Reserve is the part-time force that provides essential capabilities to the Army, giving them added scale and scope to respond to challenges at home and abroad. Chaplains in the Army Reserve pursue a civilian ministry while training near their home and serving their community, spending one weekend a month on duty and two weeks a year in training.

The Army committed to providing spiritual and emotional support to soldiers and their families in peace and war. Chaplains accept the rigors and challenges that come with being in the military, while maintaining a heart full of kindness, compassion and humility.

Chaplains are charged to nurture the living, care for the wounded and honor the fallen.

The Army chaplaincy provides depths of ministry that encompass the highs and lows of human experience and in this ever-changing world, chaplains are a steady presence of the divine, reminding soldiers and their families of the meaning of life that is beyond the uniform.

The author, Michelle Suh, is a chaplain in the United States Army.  She received her Master’s in Divinity at Fuller Theological Seminary and has gone on to complete Clinical Pastoral Education at LAC+USC Hospital in Los Angeles, CA, and Dignity Heath Sequoia Hospital in Redwood City, CA. She is passionate about helping young ministers explore various sectors of ministry. If you are interested in becoming an Army chaplain or want more information on Army chaplaincy, please contact Chaplain Suh at or 818-307-3591.