DAV™ Black Mountain Chapter #12 - A Clearer Grasp of Chaplain Duties 2021
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width='298' A Clearer Grasp of Chaplain Duties

A Chaplain has to deal with a myriad of personalities, emotions and unexpected moments. This article is designed to provide a clearer view about the responsibilities of a DAV Chaplain.

This includes important details in how to perform a Chaplain's labors. This includes the impact they create on the lives of others.


UNDERSTANDING OUR RESPONSIBILITIES   |   THINK BEFORE YOU APPROACH 
RESPECTING PERSONAL SPACE   |   INTERACTIVE SOCIAL COMMUNICATION
THE ENTIRE PICTURE   |   PERSONAL RISK   |   CHAPLAIN RESPONSIBILITY
 
Chaplain Obligations

The Chaplain of a chapter is responsible for leading the opening and closing prayer of chapter meetings. He / She serves as the spiritual leader of the chapter. This frequently causes the Chaplain to be called upon to represent the chapter at a funeral for deceased members or other events.  A Chaplain must also send sympathy cards to the spouses of the ceased as well as chapter members who are out sick.

It doesn't stop there though. It is important for a Chaplain to visit members of the chapter when they are ill, and visit family of chapter members who are deceased. It's important to realize that sometimes a family may prefer no sympathy cards, flowers or calls. The Chaplain acts in accordance with the family's instructions.

The details outlined above are merely the foundation defined by the DAV Officer Guide.  There are many more details that need to be considered to be most effective as the Chaplain of a chapter. We must remember that every individual we socialize with, not just chapter members, deserves respect and a Chaplain should establish social dialogue with them before approaching.



Interactive Social Communication

The average human brain has an abundance of social neurons.  These neurons serve as filters which allow us to identify when, how and with whom to react. As a Chaplain, when socially interacting with others each day, everyone is influenced from that interaction. When others around you laugh, the interaction with others stimulates you to feel good and possibly laugh as well.


Interactive social communication is vital for a Chaplain to make productive progress with the chapter.  This is a vital detail with victims of  PTSD trauma from military service in general, as well as MST. For a victim of a traumatic PTSD experience, the social interaction we normally practice can instead serve as a trigger to cause an unintentional aggressive response to occur. For others, they simply become more reticent or restrained in their reaction.
For most victims, they have put up a wall to protect them from the traumatic experience they have endured. The normal flow of social neurons in their brains doesn't allow them to recognize and respond effectively.

A Chaplain should remember that they have no way of knowing the emotional state of anyone by a mere glance. In speaking to others, there can be more to what is being said than a Chaplain might realize.  Quite often there is an underlying message in what they are sharing with you.
Image of emotion block


A Chaplain must always be prepared! There are specialty services available at the National Center for PTSD Treatment and VA Mental Health services at VA medical centers. A Chaplain should keep up to date on the services available in their area for PTSD/MST and suicidal concerns so they are ready to be there for a Veteran when needed most in social interaction.



According to J. Asbrand, a psychologist with the Salt Lake City VA's PTSD clinical team,
It's not about the sex; it's about power and control.


 
Think Before Approaching

One of the biggest mistakes that is so often forgotten is the importance of giving recognition and proper communication with others.  As a Chaplain, this is a vital part of assigned responsibilities.  It is human nature to simply approach others to share a personal thought or feeling.  This however is being careless and not considering the person we are socializing with.

A Chaplain must remember that every individual being social with, deserves respect and we should speak with them before approaching.

In speaking to others, there can be more to what is being said than a Chaplain might realize.  Quite often there is an underlying message in what they are sharing that helps a chaplain, establish the most effective way to be there for that person.


 
Respecting Personal Space

A Chaplain must remember that a social conversation with anyone you speak with is before approaching. It is a primary concern to remember that we have no way of knowing the emotional state of anyone by a mere glance. In speaking to others, there can be more to what is being said than a Chaplain might realize.  Quite often, there is an underlying message in what they are sharing with you that helps a Chaplain establish the most effective way to be there for that person.


 
Understanding The Entire Picture

A Chaplain, needs to have a full and complete understanding of the entire picture. This is a vital part of a Chaplain's labors to not just know how to communicate effectively, but have a full understanding of the resources available for a Veteran.  A Veteran might appear to have suicidal ideations but if you don't know where to send them or who to contact, then that Veteran's life might be lost because of a Chaplain being uninformed. A Chaplain is not a service officer but should be fully aware of all resources available to be there for the Veterans a Chaplain serves.


 In the completion of a recent study conducted by our own staff, 
over 87% of the Veteran who participated in our study
were fully aware of the VA benefits available.


 
Personal Risk

When a Chaplain socially interacts with others each day, everyone is influenced from that interaction. When others around a Chaplain laugh, the interaction with others stimulates the Chaplain to feel good and possibly laugh as well. For a victim of a traumatic PTSD / MST experience, the same social interaction can instead serve as a trigger to cause an unintentional aggressive response to occur. For others, they simply become more reticent or restrained in their reaction.

It is important to consider the fact that a victim of MST, is not responsible for their actions. For most victims, they have put up a wall to protect them from the traumatic experience they have endured. The normal flow of social neurons in their brains does not allow them to recognize and respond effectively A Chaplain must always be cautious not just in the benefit of the Veteran, but your own self.


 Over 60,000+ male Veterans alone, are victims of MST (Military Sexual Trauma)
and PTSD (Post-traumatic Stress Disorder) per year!


 
The Initial Step To Positive Change

Every individual has a different battle to fight in order to understand and/or contribute to the improvement of their lives. The most important part as a Chaplain, is that they help others take the initial step to begin that change for improvement desired.  That is in actuality one of the most difficult. To overcome that challenge is a substantial accomplishment.

After taking that first step, it's not always an easy path to travel. For some, there are plenty of mental speed-bumps or chuckholes potentially along the way. For others, the transition can seem like a big relief. One just needs to remember that their new path is unique and their own. It is by their own conscious choice how they handle it with you as their Chaplain.

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