When you join the Army National Guard as a Chaplain, you will be a commissioned officer. Chaplains are the non-combative, spiritual leaders of the Army National Guard, providing emotional and religious support to Soldiers and their families. You'll perform religious ceremonies, offer guidance and help Soldiers adjust to their military lives and experiences.
Your initial training is the Chaplain Officer Basic Leadership Course; a three month program at Fort Jackson, South Carolina. This course teaches you to apply your civilian chaplain skills to the Army environment, prepares you physically and mentally to be an officer in the Guard, and covers the complexities of the First Amendment, freedom of expression, counseling, mentoring and leadership. This course can be completed in one block or several phases over a 24month period.
As a Chaplain, all religions and belief systems are welcome in the Guard. To serve as a Guard chaplain, your faith group must have a federally recognized endorsing agency that can issue an ecclesiastical endorsement for you. Typically, you will work with Soldiers from your own faith.
Additional things to know about becoming a Chaplain:
You must be a U.S. citizen by birth or naturalized, pass a physical exam, and be between 21 and 42 years old. There are several educational requirements as well—be sure to look over the complete list of requirements for Army National Guard chaplain candidates.
You don't have to wait until graduation to join the Army National Guard chaplaincy. As a chaplain candidate, you can train to be a Chaplain in the Guard while working toward your civilian theology Master's Degree. This lets you earn a paycheck while greatly adding to your education and experience.
Your rank will depend on your work experience and education level. Chaplains are officers in the Army National Guard and generally begin their career progression at the grade of 1LT (First Lieutenant). Advanced appointment as a CPT (Captain) may be possible under certain circumstances.