RADM Brent W. Scott Navy Chief of Chaplains
I recently read an opinion article that suggested it would
be reasonable to consider what amounts to reducing the religious liberty of
service members and their families. The author offered that diminishing the
Chaplain Corps would help the Navy meet its $40 billion requirement. The truth
is, however, that it would only provide less than one-half of one percent in
governmental saving and it would ultimately cost taxpayers more. Stated
differently, chaplains reduce the frequency and severity of a wide range of
costly destructive behaviors.
The Navy Chaplain Corps is an extremely efficient
organization. The Navy’s 840 chaplains care for more than 564,000 active
component service members in the Navy, the Coast Guard, and the Marine Corps.
On average, every chaplain cares for more than 670 service members, not
counting their family members and the civilians who are also authorized to use
their services. The idea that Professional Naval Chaplaincy is a fertile ground
for finding cost savings is completely spurious.
Some of the most valuable and far-reaching contributions of
the Chaplain Corps go largely unknown to the average citizen. Chaplains
contribute to the National Defense at the international level, the Service
level, and the personal level. The Navy Chaplain Corps, representing
fundamental national values, contributes directly to the National Defense and
America’s relationships with other countries. For instance, Navy chaplains
engage with foreign civil and religious leaders in partner nations to build friendship
and represent the power of free people through piety, devotion and practical
support without violence or prejudice.
Chaplains provide value and irreplaceable service to the
Department of the Navy, the Department of Defense, and the Department of Homeland
Security, supporting our most fundamental form of diversity within the Navy,
diversity of thought and perspective. Without Navy chaplains at home and abroad
to facilitate the free exercise of their religion, many devout citizens from
every faith would take their virtues, strengths, knowledge, and abilities to
other services or simply refrain from military service altogether.
Without the confidential communication that Navy chaplains
offer the people they serve, fewer service members in distress would seek and
receive the medical, social, or mental health assistance they need to stay fit
to fight. Multiple studies, like the 2013 study done by the Massachusetts
Institute of Technology, show that chaplains are the most trusted helping
professionals for Navy personnel seeking assistance. Chaplains help Marines,
Sailors and the Coast Guard to stay ready, lethal, and fit to fight by ensuring
that everyone at home or at sea gets the care they need from the right
professional at the right time.