Vance chaplain candidates committed to spiritual health

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  • Public Affairs
Air Force lieutenants have the opportunity to affect servicemembers and their families spiritually by becoming chaplains through the chaplain candidate program.
The chaplain candidate program is a Reserve program allowing individuals to explore the military ministry option, while attending seminary. It is designed to expose civilian seminarians to the diverse and demanding role of Air Force chaplains in a variety of ministerial settings.
"I really enjoy working with military members and their families," said 2nd Lt. Steven Beatty, a Roman Catholic chaplain candidate with the 71st Flying Training Wing chapel. "They are wonderful people and are more open to considering issues of faith, character and morality. They go all over the world serving our nation, protecting our freedom and way of life, and they need and deserve to have the church be there for them."
The difference between civilian and a military pastoral service is military people are more open to spiritual matters, said 2nd Lt. Benjamin Hayden, a Protestant chaplain candidate here.
"My role is to introduce myself and get to know people," said Lieutenant Hayden, a native of Omaha, Neb. "Friendship is important with people before they feel comfortable enough to talk about spiritual issues."
Both chaplain candidates agreed that diversity and the Air Force way of life are primary factors in their pursuit of military chaplaincy.
"What drives me most is the thought of all the deployed people and their families back here at home," Lieutenant Beatty said. "Priests are there during the extremes of life -- birth, marriage, sickness, death, times of great tragedy and times of great joy. Military people are very much in tune with those aspects of life, maybe more so than other members of our society. My desire is to be there for them at those extreme moments and in the ordinary moments."
Lieutenant Beatty is a student at Illinois State University at Bloomington, Ill., and Lieutenant Hayden is attending Nazarene Theological Seminary in Kansas City, Mo.
"I see my role as a future chaplain reservist," Lieutenant Hayden said. "I feel that God has called my wife and me to start churches in the inner city, and then later in the future, start churches overseas." As a civilian chaplain, he serves as an associated Protestant pastor in Cameron, Mo.
To be appointed to the Chaplain Candidate Program, applicants must:
n Receive approval by the agency of their denomination which endorses chaplains for the Armed Forces,
n Be younger than 35 years of age on the date of their appointment as chaplain candidate,
n Earn a bachelor's degree from a regionally accredited college or university and
n Be enrolled full-time in a seminary or theological school which is regionally accredited or accredited by the Association of Theological Schools working toward a Master of Divinity or equivalent degree.
Applications for the program are accepted after enrollment in the seminary, and must be completed prior to the beginning of the third semester before graduation. The chaplain candidate must be available for approximately 100 days of training as well as meet Air Force requirements for commissioning as a second lieutenant in the Reserve. Commissioning can occur after the Air Reserve Personnel Center favorably reviews at least one semester or quarter of seminary work.
Chaplain candidates attend a Commissioned Officer Training course at Maxwell Air Force Base, Ala., and the Chaplain Familiarization Course at the Air Force Chaplain Service Institute after completing one year of theological studies. Candidates may also be assigned short tours of active duty at Air Force installations under the direct supervision of the senior chaplains.
"Faith isn't something people add onto the rest of their lives, it's something that defines them profoundly and shapes everything else about them," Lieutenant Beatty said. "I believe that no other factor is more important to living a happy and fulfilled human life. As a chaplain, I can help them engage that faith."