A Navy initiative to have chaplains permanently onboard guided-missile destroyers has proven successful in addressing mental health issues, said Roy Kitchener, Commander, Navy Surface Forces. According to the general, it means the navy will need to recruit more chaplains in the future.
“I think the Reverend’s initiative is one of the best things we’ve done,” Kitchener told reporters. We tend to have less unexpected losses and problems.”
In December 2021, the Navy began an effort to incorporate Chaplain as a permanent member of the guided-missile destroyer crew. The effort was a departure from the previous practice of chaplains heading to destroyers while working up as “sailors,” Navy Times previously reported.
However, destroyers in the Pacific and Atlantic currently have nearly 30 chaplains permanently assigned to them, and the Navy aims to have chaplains on all destroyers by 2025. said Kitchener.
“We signaled demand and showed the impact through analytics, and ‘it works and it makes a difference,’” said Kitchener. “And it’s been done through pastors to generate resources for us to put in….we have a demand signal. It means you have to come.”
The Chaplain Effort, initiated in the 7th Fleet with the 15th Destroyer Squadron, strives to foster resilience among sailors across the force.
In a December 2021 Navy news release, Capt. Daniel Maud, fleet chaplain for the 7th Fleet, said, “Leaders recognize that our sailors have an asymmetrical advantage over the enemy. In response to demand signals from surface leadership for more chaplains to serve the fleet, the chaplain squadron [Naval Surface Force, U.S. Pacific Fleet] The pastor developed a strategy to increase the budget and recruit pastors who specialize in DDG. The proposal was unanimously approved at all leadership levels from the CNO down. ”
In December, the service released findings into multiple suicides aboard the USS George Washington, which has undergone mid-life refueling and a complex overhaul at Newport News Shipyards since August 2017.
An investigation found no connection between the three deaths that occurred over six days in April 2022, but the report said the ship’s psychologists and behavioral health technicians were “overwhelmed.” says. Both faced a backlog of about four to six weeks for their first appointment.
As the Navy struggles to fill positions for mental health providers amid a nationwide shortage, that challenge is reflected across the service. In a leaked full liaison with Navy Sergeant Major Russell Smith, he said he was told to wait six weeks to see a Navy provider when he needed help. He made sure to seek private care “because I can afford it.”
“You can’t snap your fingers and raise a psychiatrist,” Smith told sailors. I need everything for.”
Military and veterans experiencing mental health emergencies can call 988 and select option 1 to speak with VA staff. Veterans, military or their families can also text her at 838255 or visit. VeteransCrisisLine.net for assistance.