The Maryland Defense Force Discovers Another Way to Serve the Maryland National Guard and the State Defense Force
Contributor(s)MARYLAND DEFENSE FORCE PIKESVILLE MD
KeywordsHumanities and History
Personnel Management and Labor Relations
Military Forces and Organizations
*MARYLAND DEFENSE FORCE
MDDF(MARYLAND DEFENSE FORCE)
STATE DEFENSE FORCES
MARYLAND NATIONAL GUARD
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AbstractAt present, the U.S. Military is experiencing a shortage of chaplains in both its active and reserve components. The shortage in this critical MOS is greatest in the Reserves and National Guard, particularly for units in home quarters. The reason for this seems to be the urgent need for chaplains in units mobilized for combat, such that few chaplains are left behind to minister to the troops remaining at home. The rationale for mobilizing so many chaplains is that soldiers in home quarters and their families have civilian ministers to provide them with spiritual and social support. But the problem with this "solution" is that civilian ministers who have never served in the military do not fully understand the problems faced by soldiers and their families who are regularly separated from each other for long periods of time. Because of this lack of understanding on the part of civilian ministers, many soldiers prefer military chaplains to service their needs. The shortage is critical in the case of Jewish chaplains. There is a group of Rabbis who are committed to providing spiritual and social guidance for individuals who live in isolation from family and friends. This group, known as the Aleph Institute, consists of Rabbis and other members of the Chasidic (Pious) group known as the Lubavitch community. These Rabbis have often volunteered for service as chaplains in the military and have just as often been rejected, for one reason: facial hair. These rabbis have beards, which they are forbidden by religious law to shave, and because of Army Regulation 600-20, the military has deprived itself of a ready resource of Jewish chaplains. This article describes how the Maryland Defense Force (MDDF) addressed the problem of the ban on facial hair on its uniformed members through a request for a modified grooming standard, and how the MDDF commissioned the first Chasidic Rabbi into a State Defense Force.
See also ADA494462. Published in the State Defense Force Journal, v3 n1, p39-43, Fall 2007. Creative Commons Attribution License. The original document contains color images.
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The Critical Shortage of Military Chaplains: One Possible SolutionMARYLAND DEPT OF THE MILITARY BALTIMORE; Hershkowitz, Martin; Tenenbaum, Chesky (2008)The military is currently experiencing a critical shortage of Chaplains both in deployed units and in the Reserve Forces at home. According to Chaplain (Lt Col) Randall Dolinger, spokesman for the Office of the Army Chief of Chaplains, the military is short by about 520 chaplains, with 80 Regular Army vacancies and 440 openings in the National Guard (NG) and Reserves. He further states that the Army NG shortage is at 40% of their manning requirements. With more NG units being deployed, the shortage of NG Chaplains will become more critical. This further reduces the number of chaplains remaining to minister to nondeployed units and family members. The Jewish Chaplain shortage in the military is at least as severe as that for the general military chaplain force. One group of rabbis who would be willing to serve are from the Chassidic Jewish community. Unfortunately, they cannot serve because of U.S. Army grooming regulations prohibiting facial hair. This article discusses the Jewish chaplain shortage and presents a potential solution for it. The goal is to convince the U.S. Army to provide waivers for beards worn by clergy who are required by religious law and custom to retain their beards. This is not likely to happen simply by urging it on Army Command. What is needed is an approach within the military that demonstrates the value of a Chassidic Rabbi being commissioned and serving as a Chaplain. This approach should be applied in both directions, "bottom-up" as well as "top-down." An example of the "bottom-up" approach is presented. The Maryland State Defense Force (SDF) was asked to consider commissioning Rabbi Chesky Tenenbaum, a Rabbi of the Chabad Lubavitch of Upper Montgomery County, Maryland, as a Chaplain. Rabbi Tenenbaum was commissioned into the Maryland SDF as a Chaplain and was placed on temporary additional duty (TAD) with the Maryland NG. The authors then expanded this successful experiment to other SDF units around the country.