This guest post was written by Janet Pryor of http://www.militarymilestones.
The Journey Of An Army Chaplain Family
In 1973, my world changed very radically, but it was a change that we welcomed and looked forward to from the beginning. My husband had desired to become a military chaplain all during his last four years from college into graduate school (seminary). Now that dream was coming true.
We had been married when I was 20 years old and when we were halfway through college. We finished college together and my husband went on to Seminary while I worked as an elementary teacher. To become a chaplain, one had to go through an endorsing agency, a denominational headquarters of religious hierarchy that would vet and train a potential candidate for the military chaplaincy. In addition, one had to have a college degree and at least 90 hours of graduate (seminary) training. That pretty much amounted to a three-year master’s degree.
We were able to accomplish this, but our endorsing agency was a small group that only had 1/2 of an opening compared to other endorsing agencies that had hundreds of potential openings to get into the Army as a chaplain. How does one get into the chaplaincy with 1/2 of an opening when we already had about 5 chaplains in despite that 1/2 opening? Well, the way it was done was to use other denominational openings that they could not fill. So, the chances were slim that we would get in. But within a few months of applying there was an opening and on December 16, 1973, my husband was sworn in as a Captain and a Chaplain in the United States Army (his favorite branch of the military).
Since our denominational headquarters were small, there was not the vetting and training that others provided. Most would take a couple and train them for up to a year of what to expect and how to understand the world they were entering. We had had none of that training.
In January of 1974, we entered the military world. The first step was that my husband was sent to New York for Chaplain basic training. We were to be apart for up to nine weeks. The first challenge for me as a 24-year-old mother of one with a second child on the way in 6 to 7 months was figuring out what I would do during those 9 weeks. I headed to my parent’s home. They had retired near Augusta, Georgia. For a gal from the north this was a real culture change but one that proved to be enlightening and encouraging. Those nine weeks seemed to take a long time, but they were filled with fun surprises as my husband would surprise me a couple of times with being able to fly from New York to Augusta for weekend passes.
After some time, I was able to head to New York city for some weekends there at the Chaplain’s school in Brooklyn, New York. I am sure to most military personnel the Chaplain’s basic was rather easy compared to what most soldiers would encounter. It was a school of learning officer training and understanding but still had lots of physical requirements and testing involved there. But, when we were able to be together on those special weekends it was magical for us to step into a world we had not envisioned or knew. In March, 1974, my husband graduated from the Chaplain’s course. His father flew in for the ceremony from Michigan (our home state) and I flew in from Georgia. It was a proud day as our plans and hopes for military life began.
Looking back, it was a challenging and crazy time, but it was an important time for my husband and I, and we wouldn’t have traded it for anything. To all of you military wives out there going through challenging times, hang in there. I am living proof of an army wife who has experienced the fruit of a life in the military. Love your husband. Love your kids. And have hope in the positive things of life.
Janet and Jerry Pryor live in Northern Kentucky, where they spend time investing in their children and 12 grandchildren. They are also co-owners of a custom military rings e-commerce store at MilitaryMilestones.com.
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