What is a Chaplain in the South Dakota National Guard?
He or she is a Minister, Priest, Imam, Rabbi, Pastor — they are all part of our National Guard Chaplain Team. If your religion is Judaism, Islam, or Christianity, our citizen-soldiers need the direction you can provide.
A Member of the Local Community
A National Guard chaplain is a preacher, a teacher, a counselor, and a citizen-soldier. Men and women who minister to their neighbors and who dedicate a portion of their private time to their country. The National Guard Chaplain accepts the challenge to go beyond their traditional ministry to better serve their community.
A Leader of the Unit Ministry Team
You will lead the Unit Ministry Team (UMT) which consists of you and a trained chaplain assistant. He or she will help you settle into your new role and act as your aide and administrative assistant. Chaplain assistants are fully trained on the conduct of the worship service as well as soldier specific tasks. Your assistant will perform administrative duties which will free you to preach, teach, and counsel.
A Battalion Chaplain
A new National Guard Chaplain is normally assigned to a battalion near home. You may be the religious leader for several hundred citizen-soldiers. At the same time, you serve as a personal advisor to the battalion commander. In this role, you advise the commander on all matters of morality, integrity, and religious matters for your fellow soldiers. During annual training you will coordinate with other battalion chaplains and the active duty post chaplains to ensure your soldiers have the opportunity to worship with chaplains of their own faith. Chaplains may also serve as administrators and facilitators. For example, you could be an instructor at an annual marriage encounter weekend for our soldiers and their families. You may also have the opportunity to volunteer for short periods of active duty.
A Commissioned Officer
National Guard chaplains receive the same pay, allowances, and benefits earned by all commissioned officers. You will also receive an initial uniform allowance, promotion opportunities, and retirement benefits.
A chaplain has the option of continuing service in the National Guard for twenty or more years. Or, if you find yourself drawn to a deeper relationship with the military community, you may request transfer to the active Army or Army Reserves where you also may retire after twenty or more years of service. However, many National Guard chaplains have served just one tour of active duty to broaden their experience and then returned to their local communities to continue serving both their faith and the National Guard.