Nurture the living. Care for the wounded. Honor the dead. These are the core competencies of military chaplaincy – a critical, yet often overlooked, form of military service.
The latest installment of the Veterans History Project’s (VHP) Experiencing War website feature is titled "Chaplains: On a Divine Mission." The website feature, one of 33 created thus far, highlights the wartime stories of 15 veterans who served as military chaplains, answering the call to serve in more ways than one.
One of the veterans spotlighted is Navy Chaplain Peter McGeory, a Catholic priest who served during the Persian Gulf and Iraq/Afghanistan eras. McGeory shares some of his most memorable experiences recovering the bodies of fallen sailors after a catastrophic incident and counseling survivors in the wake of another.
World War II Army Chaplain Eugene Daniel tells the harrowing tale of his days spent as a prisoner of war – still allowed to exercise his chaplaincy duties while in captivity. Vietnam War Chaplain’s Assistant Kenneth Martin recounts his experiences in the Army as a closeted gay soldier struggling with the teachings of his Southern Baptist upbringing and having to counsel other soldiers who were being discharged due to their sexual orientation.
Each veteran featured in "Chaplains: On a Divine Mission" describes his personal wartime experience of providing a service within the service and ministering to people of all faiths, while remaining true to his own beliefs.
"Chaplains: On a Divine Mission" is part of VHP’s ongoing “Experiencing War” series, which chronicles Americans in conflict using firsthand accounts and narratives.
Commissioned by Congress to collect and preserve the recollections of Americans who served during wartime, the VHP relies on volunteers to interview veterans and submit their recollections, along with letters, photographs, memoirs and other documents, to the Library of Congress to be archived and shared with future generations.