Thursday, April 23, 2009

US Air Force Scholarships For Chaplain Candidates

I found this news from the official USAF Web Site: http://www.af.mil/news/story.asp?storyID=123141981
It does not say whether there is a certain faith requirement; currently there are no Buddhist Air Force Chaplains or Chaplain Candidates.

Scholarships available for chaplaincy students

by Staff Sgt. J.G. Buzanowski
Secretary of the Air Force Public Affairs

3/30/2009 - WASHINGTON (AFNS) -- In an effort to better provide spiritual care to Airmen, Air Force officials are offering scholarships for individuals who want to become service chaplains.

The religious professional scholarship program is designed to help fill manning shortfalls within the chaplaincy for underrepresented faiths within the Air Force. The program is available to any commissioned officer or anyone currently enrolled in a commissioning program, such as the Air Force Academy or ROTC.

For candidates who meet the requirements, the tuition will be paid. In addition, students will receive a stipend to cover certain fees or expenses as determined by Air Force Institute of Technology officials, who manage the academic portion of the program. Individuals will be required to serve for eight years, with any time not completed on active duty spent in the inactive ready reserve, said Mr. Craig W. Duehring, the assistant secretary of the Air Force for manpower and reserve affairs.

"This program is a huge step forward in providing qualified chaplains for the Air Force," Mr. Duehring said. "Our chaplains are such an integral part of our Air Force and we have a responsibility to provide their support to Airmen and their families."

The program will help fill manning shortfalls in faiths underrepresented in the Air Force. For example, 14 percent of the 534 active duty chaplains in the Air Force are Roman Catholic, yet they provide services for 25 percent of Airmen, as well as their families, said Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Cecil Richardson, the Air Force chief of chaplains.

"This is a fantastic program that will help us fill vacancies and make sure we're meeting the spiritual needs of our Air Force family," Chaplain Richardson said. "Right now it just so happens we have a shortage in priests, but next year we may need more rabbis. Either way, this provision will apply as the needs of our Air Force change every year."

To qualify for the program, applicants must:
- Meet Air Force commissioning requirements
- Receive written permission from a listed DoD ecclesiastical endorser
- Be in good academic standing
- Be younger than 39 upon completion of theological studies

For more information about the program, send a request to chaplains@rs.af.mil.

2 comments:

Hank said...

Hello,

My name is SSgt Sims, I'm active duty Air Force and am interested in becoming a chaplain. I've inquired about this with the Chaplain recruiter and I was informed that despite the face that the Air Force does not have any Buddhist Chaplains, they also don't have any billets for Buddhist Chaplains. In fact, it was suggested to me, though not directly, that the scholarship only applies to Catholic Chaplains, as they are in the most demand.

The news that the Air Force is not hiring any Buddhist Chaplains was very dissappointing to me. Naturally, I'd like to stay within my service if I decide to become a Chaplain. I have tried to contact the Navy Chaplain recruiter as well, but did not get a response. My experience so far is that while the Chaplains corps is severely undermanned across all services, it is STILL difficult to get in if you're Buddhist.

Is this a valid statement? Are there only a few billets available? Do you have to be in the right place at the right time?

Thanks for your time and patience!

In gassho,
SSgt Hank Sims

LT Jeanette Shin, CHC, USN said...

Hello SSGT Sims,

That's wonderful you are considering become a chaplain! I am concerned with what you were told about "billets for Buddhist chaplains." Who told you this? As far as I know, there are NO billets that are reserved for chaplains of a specific faith group; at least, that is not how it works in the USN. I have not read anywhere that this particular scholarship is reserved for Catholics only. I have never been told I couldn't apply for a certain billet because I am Buddhist. I would be surprised if that is the case in the USAF, since that would seem like an instance of religious discrimination.

Please contact me directly, and I can put you in touch with a Navy chaplain recruiter directly (the ones I've known have been eager to recruit Buddhists!) The difficulties Buddhists have encountered in applying for military chaplaincy have mostly been due to issues of ordination and education.

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