The history of chaplaincy is an ancient one which goes back to the earliest periods of church history. The word “chaplain” is derived from the Latin word ‘capella” which described a soldier’s cloak, (capa, capella) that gave them comfort and warmth in action, hence the chaplain providing pastoral care of comfort. The military has a long history and tradition of chaplains providing spiritual guidance and support to its members in peacetime as well as wartime.
While chaplains are people of a faith community, their principal role then, as is today, is to provide spiritual guidance and support in times of crisis and need. Most chaplains have extensive professional counseling backgrounds and regardless of their religious background, they are trained to work with and counsel people of all faiths, as well as those with faith.