Military chaplains provide deployed troops with greatest asset: an ear to listen

8 May 2007 | Army Pfc. Bronwyn M. Meyer, 367th MPAD

Chaplains in the military do more than hold a Sunday service for the troops; they help ease fears, listen to problems, and answer questions about morality and guilt.The Navy chaplains from Marine Aircraft Group 39 are not here to judge the troops, but to offer their greatest asset: an ear to listen, said Lt. Cmdr. Dennis Kucharczyk, a chaplain with MAG-39.Kucharczyk counsels the Marines about challenges in their lives and about being away from their families. He listens to the Marines' concerns and problems and gives advice, support and encouragement."Sitting and listening. I think that's the biggest thing a chaplain does - simply to listen," he said.According to Lt. j.g. Sam Contreras, MAG-39 chaplain, it is a chaplain's job is to counsel the troops about their problems."There is only one person in the entire service who has the education, the patience, the fortitude, the will and the job description to take care of all the personal and family concerns (of the military members) - and that is the chaplain," he said.According to Kucharczyk, the number one problem that the troops come to the chaplain with is wanting to go home."I commiserate with them, letting them know that I want to go home too," Kucharczyk said. "(However), until the mission comes to an end or the mission is handed over to another branch of the military, we are here."Sometimes the chaplain must help some of the troops overcome the guilt that they feel because they took a human life. Kucharczyk helps the troops realize that they did cause the death of another person, but that is what happens in a war."They must kill or be killed, and then we deal with those feelings (of guilt) after the fact," said Kucharczyk. "We can talk about killing, but when it actually happens (and) you were the person that pulled the trigger, then you deal with those issues: the ethics, the moral issues, to know that you took a human life." According to Kucharczyk, the chaplain helps them get over their guilt by listening to them."I will simply sit with them and listen to their story. If they want to say it with courage, if they want to say it through tears, however they want to do it, I am the person that will do that with them," said Kucharczyk.