The Army Chaplain Corps was born on July 29, 1775. The start of the Chaplain Corps came six short weeks after the Continental Congress established the Army. General George Washington formed the infantry as the first branch of the Army. Soon after this, he saw the need for ministers to care for Soldiers and go into battle directly with units during the American Revolution. General Washington’s concern for the care of his troops quickly brought creation of the second branch, the US Army Chaplain Corps.
The Continental Congress officially recognized chaplains in the national army with the rank of Captain. Congress later passed the “Chaplaincy Act” on January 16, 1776, authorizing one chaplain for every two regiments. Pay was set at thirty-three dollars and thirty-three cents a month. While the pay scale and uniform has certainly changed, the need for military ministry has not.
Since the start in 1775, approximately 25,000 Army Chaplains have served as religious and spiritual leaders for 25 million Soldiers and their Families. From military installations to deployed combat units and from service schools to military hospitals, Army Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants have performed their ministries in the most religiously diverse organization in the world.
Always present with their Soldiers in war and in peace, Army Chaplains have served in more than 270 major wars and combat engagements. Nearly 300 Army Chaplains have laid down their lives in battle. Seven have been awarded the Medal of Honor. Currently, over 2,900 Chaplains are serving the Total Army representing over 130 different religious organizations.
Pray for the men and women who bring God to Soldiers and Soldiers to God. They are the servants who nurture the living, care for the wounded, and honor the fallen. May their actions, words, deeds, and ministry efforts continue to live up to the Chaplain Corps motto, “Pro Deo et Patria,” which means, “For God and Country.”