Friday, July 31, 2009

Army Chaplain Corps Celebrates 234th Birthday at Arlington National Cemetery

Here's a nice article about the USA Chaplain Corps. Currently, I believe there are 2 Army chaplain candidates of Buddhist faith.
Happy Birthday!

Jul 30, 2009

By J.D. Leipold
WASHINGTON (Army News Service, July 30, 2009) – Army Chaplains, their assistants, families, friends and wounded warriors gathered at Arlington National Cemetery, July 26, to celebrate the 234th birthday of the Army Chaplain Corps and the centennial of the chaplain assistant.

Following a wreath-laying ceremony at the Tomb of the Unknowns, Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Douglas Carver, Army chief of chaplains, led the crowd through the tree-lined streets of the cemetery to Chaplain's Hill.

At Chaplain's Hill, Carver introduced guest of honor George Weidensall, a former Army corporal who had served as a chaplain assistant in during the Korean War. Following the invocation and scripture reading, Carver gave a memorial address thanking the chaplains and chaplain assistants for their spiritual leadership, moral example and sacrificial service and love to Soldiers.

Carver said that for the last 100 years chaplain assistants had set the conditions for worship by setting up services for chaplains and by providing security while chaplains conducted those services. He said during the 100 year history of the Chaplain Corps, Army chaplains have received 27 Distinguished Service Crosses, and an array of Purple Hearts, Bronze Stars for Valor, and Combat Action Badges.

"It's humbling to stand here among these graves of our forefathers of military ministry," he said. "Each one of these chaplains and chaplain assistants had something in common: they walked in faith, they found courage in their calling and they encouraged others to greatness. Most of all, our chaplains and chaplain assistants have loved their fellow Soldiers and their fellow ministry teams more than their own lives."

Since the corps was created on July 29, 1775, more than 25,000 chaplains have served as religious and spiritual leaders for 25 million Soldiers and their families. Presently, the Army has 2,700 chaplains and an equal number of assistants across the active Army, Reserve and National Guard. More than 1,000 chaplains have been mobilized or deployed in support of contingency operations worldwide since 2003.

Present in more than 270 major combat engagements, 400 chaplains have died in combat going back to the Revolutionary War battles at Lexington, Concord Bridge and Bunker Hill. Gen. George Washington pushed for chaplains to be assigned to individual regiments and even ordered religious services to be performed at 11 a.m. every Sunday.

While three chaplains are known to have fought with muskets alongside the Soldiers they ministered to during the Revolutionary War, they have long since become noncombatants who depend upon their armed assistants for protection. In combat zones, chaplains handle the driving from unit to unit to perform services while their assistants serve as bodyguards.

Six chaplains have received the Medal of Honor, four from the Civil War and two from the Vietnam War. Calvin P. Titus, an Army musician who spent much time helping his unit's chaplain during the 1900 Boxer Rebellion in China could be considered the Army's first chaplain assistant. He received the country's highest military decoration, though the chaplain assistant program was not established until Dec. 28, 1909.
(Photo Credit: J.D. Leipold.
Dressed in 1909 vintage uniform, Pfc. Brandon Robb tells chaplains and their guests the story behind the 234-year history of the Army Chaplain Corps and how the chaplain assistant program began. George Weidensall (in wheelchair) a Korean War veteran and chaplain assistant was the guest of honor at the celebration. To his left is Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Douglas Carver, Army chief of chaplains and to Weidensall's right is Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Donald L. Rutherford, deputy chief of chaplains.)

Friday, July 24, 2009

Institute of Buddhist Studies Podcast

The Institute of Buddhist Studies in Berkeley, California, has a podcast page offering audio/visual podcasts of academic lectures and Dharma talks on a variety of topics. The most recent presentations are highlights from the IBS chaplaincy program's Open House, so anyone who missed it can see clips from that presentation, and Professor Steve Jenkin's (Humboldt State University) three-part lecture entitled "Compassionate Violence, Torture and Warfare in the Bodhisattva Ideal."
The podcast page may be found here:

Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Memorial Service for "Shifty" Powers

One of our blog followers, GYSGT Fountain, posted a very moving tribute to an all-but-forgotten WWII and D-Day Army veteran on his blog. To my knowledge, this veteran was not a practitioner of Buddha-dharma, but all Buddhists now living in the US owe him a debt of gratitude. Please follow this link to his online memorial:
Namo Amida Butsu

Monday, July 13, 2009

Volunteer Chaplains Needed with police, fire, and Civil Air Patrol

From This article is primarily aimed at persons belonging to the United Methodist Church, but I include it here to emphasize the need for chaplains overall, and also the reference to a Buddhist police chaplain serving in the Honolulu Police Department:

(GBHEM) -- Volunteer chaplains are needed with local police and fire departments, Civil Air Patrol groups and in many other locations. The United Methodist General Board of Higher Education and Ministry approves chaplains for volunteer work in a process similar to the endorsement process for full-time chaplains. There are 205 United Methodists approved for volunteer chaplaincies, with 1,236 endorsed chaplains, according to Tom Carter, director of endorsement with GBHEM’s United Methodist Endorsing Agency.
Endorsed chaplains primarily work full time in military, medical institutions, or as pastoral counselors. Volunteer chaplains spend most of their time in local churches. While it is not always required, GBHEM provides approval for volunteer chaplains “to give them recognition for their volunteer service,” Carter says. Some chaplain associations require this approval for membership.
The approval process for volunteer chaplains takes a couple weeks. There is paperwork that must be submitted and the board will also check with the applicant’s district superintendent.
Vergara is one of seven chaplains (six Christian and one Buddhist) serving the Honolulu Police force. His chaplaincy duties include counseling, providing house blessings and other types of blessings for members of the department, conducting wedding services, and teaching at the police academy. The classes he teaches include stress management, ethics and integrity.
The Civil Air Patrol uses volunteer chaplain. The Civil Air Patrol (CAP) is a civilian auxiliary of the United States Air Force and is known primarily for its work in search and rescue and its cadet program.
The Rev. Henry A. Harlow of New Market, Tenn., is now retired after 49 years of service as a CAP chaplain. When serving in Greene County, Tenn., he worked with a man who was a local CAP commander. So, Harlow joined up and began teaching cadets and counseling senior members.
Harlow certainly had an impact. "The commander who got me into it,” Harlow recalls. “I later had his conversion when he accepted Jesus Christ.” Harlow also watched how many of those cadets grow up and later became airline and military pilots. One cadet even became a national CAP commander.
Harlow served throughout the Southeast and eventually became the supervisor of all the CAP chaplains in a state. There are now 92 United Methodist CAP chaplains training cadets and participating in search and rescue operations.
More volunteers are always needed. Carter said elders and deacons interested in volunteer chaplaincy should check with other organizations and agencies as well. “The important thing is their ability to provide ministry to people in crisis and stress," Carter says.
For more information about chaplaincy, feel free to contact Tom Carter at the United Methodist Endorsing Agency, (615) 340-7411 or via email, or visit

Saturday, July 11, 2009

Two New Veterans Info-Exchange Forums

VA HOSPITAL WATCH is a forum to provide news and information on current VA Hospital, medical health issues and problems, and the VA's responses, actions or lack of:
http://groups. group/va- hospital- watch/

EMPLOYING VETERANS is a forum to provide new job listings, a place for employers to ask veteran employment questions, announcements of veteran hiring preferences, names of businesses that do not obey retention laws and maintenance of veteran associations inside companies:
http://groups. group/employing- veterans/

Saturday, July 4, 2009

hello to all

Hello all,

This being my first post as a chaplain candidate in the ARNG, I thought I would introduce myself and then ask an open question.

I come from a smaller order within Shingon (Japanese Vajrayana) Buddhism, and have been a Buddhist for a little over six years. I am currently attending U-West to obtain my M-Div., and(currently) a member of the Wisconsin Army National Guard as a 56E (chaplain cnadidate). I am also currently attending Ch-BOLC, after which I will be properly ascessioned and drilling with the CA Guard.

The question that I wanted to ask, and try to open to discussion is this. All chaplains have a sort of kit bag (sometimes lovingly called the chaplain's "magic bag"). I am wondering, for all of our Buddhists out there, what you would suggest, from your tradition, that would be useful, necessary and fit in a bag that has to be hand-carried in places like a FOB in say, the 'box?

NOTE: this is not a place to discuss doctrine, only to say what you would like to see in a kit bag if I have to go out and do a field service or provide ministry in theater.

In gassho,
Christopher Mohr,

Thursday, July 2, 2009

Happy 4th of July

May every one have a happy and safe Fourth of July holiday! May our country continue to be a place of freedom for all beings.

This is an excerpt from a beautiful prayer for the armed forces by Venerable Master Hsing Yun, the founder of the Fo Guang Shan ("Buddha's Light Mountain") order. May we always be mindful of the sacrifices made by our servicemembers and their dependents, of all faiths, so that we may continue to live in freedom and prosperity.

"Oh great compassionate Buddha!
May our armed forces:
Be able to understand
Both themselves and their opponents, and avoid danger;
Be well-versed
In the art of war and uphold justice;
Be able to exercise compassion and wisdom,
And achieve victory through martial virtues;
Be able to possess courage and kindness,
And win the war without fighting a battle.
May they defend the nation
With the spirit of fearlessness;
May they guard the people
With the courage of great compassion."

- Venerable Master Hsing Yun
[excerpt from Pearls of Wisdom: Prayers for Engaged Living II]
Creative Commons License
Buddhist Military Sangha by Jeanette Shin is licensed under a Creative Commons Attribution-Noncommercial-Share Alike 3.0 United States License.
Based on a work at
Permissions beyond the scope of this license may be available at