Skip to comments.He offered more than prayers in Iraq
Posted on 09/15/2008 7:15:56 PM PDT by ventanax5
My 15-month deployment to Iraq as a chaplain in the US Army just came to an end, and in a strange way, I was a bit sad to go.
I'm going to miss the people I've met, the friends I've made, and, of course, the action and adventure. But I know it was time to go home.
My primary responsibility was to look after the spiritual and religious needs of the roughly 400 soldiers in my battalion. I performed Jewish services on my base. About once a month, I'd take a ride in a Blackhawk to visit Jewish soldiers at other bases around the country, giving them a taste of home, if only for a day or two.
For the first half of my deployment, I was the only Jewish chaplain in Iraq.
I wore a yarmulke everywhere, a strange sight in a place like Iraq. I ate strictly kosher food: lots of salad, cup o' soups, dried salami, dehydrated camping meals, and more tuna than most people eat in a lifetime. I fasted on all the fast days and celebrated every holiday in the Jewish calendar - a few of them twice.
(Excerpt) Read more at boston.com ...
To be a military chaplain takes a lot of intestinal fortitude. A lot of chaplains are broken every year because of the stress, but if they last, they are hard to beat for spiritual strength. A senior military chaplain can be the closest thing to an irresistible force, or an unmovable object.
If a unit has bad morale problems, a good chaplain can be cathartic.
I heard of one horrible situation, where a young chaplain had a nervous breakdown because rotten circumstances and lethargy had devastated a unit’s morale, and soldiers would pour out their problems to him 18 hours a day. His replacement was an old chaplain who took one look at the situation and started barking out orders like a very irate Sergeant Major.
Soldiers were running around like an enemy army was going to come over the hill in the next hour. By the end of that day, the unit was exhausted, and after a good night’s sleep and a heavy duty roster was written, unit morale had been restored.
Thanks, Red. There aren’t many rabbis in the chaplaincy, so I hope we can keep this one. He sounds like a good guy. I’m passing this article on to an old Rabbi Chaplain Buddy. He’ll be delighted to see it.
My heart goes out to those, like Chaplain Schulman, who support our troops’ spirit and morale, and help them to know God’s strength and comfort. We pray for the safety of our troops and for strength in their mission, whatever that mission may be.
I have a nephew that is dying to be a Marine (like dad) -— probably decided against it because remaining observant was too difficult.
I think he is going to do the “lone soldier” program in Israel like his cousin (also my nep). Scared because (like me) his modern Hebrew sucks.
Remaining observant is difficult but not impossible. One chaplain we had with the 101st was extra-observant and managed well. Granted he was a chaplain, but he ensured that all his flock got the support they needed.
As with us Christians, there are times in war when wartime needs overcome some sensitivities. If the enemy’s closing in, that’s no time to safely set up for Sunday communion.
Disclaimer: Opinions posted on Free Republic are those of the individual posters and do not necessarily represent the opinion of Free Republic or its management. All materials posted herein are protected by copyright law and the exemption for fair use of copyrighted works.