Most, or perhaps all VA hospitals, employ VA chaplains and have a chapel. This one at the Baltimore VA is an uplifting space. Chaplains are trained to work with all faiths in addition to their connection to their home denomination laypeople. A long list of chaplains by state is here (Link); they are either part-time, full-time, intermittent or fee-based providers.
One can easily see that most veterans are under-served by VA chaplains but VA is starting to address this (link) with free training for volunteer clergy. If you have time to read about this, this is a good page to start (link). Webinars are here: (link).
Many chaplains have advanced training in mental health fields and this seems like a whole untapped group of caring people that could help support those thinking about suicide, divorce, addiction or so many other sad thoughts and problems.
New spiritual guidelines are needed according to a 2016 OIG report (link). It deals with these issues:
- Ensuring every patient’s constitutional right to free exercise of religion
- Protecting veterans from the imposition of religious beliefs or activities
- Allowing holiday displays to be placed in public areas at VHA facilities
This is very important but I do think VA chaplains could do a lot of extra good tasks–now. Any experiences with VA chaplains to share?