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VVA CHAPLAINCY PROGRAM GUIDELINES



An Overview



One of the purposes of Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. (VVA), is to help foster, encourage and promote the improvement of the condition of the Vietnam veteran. VVA is concerned with providing service to the veteran as a whole person and many Chapters and State Councils have established a chaplain position to serve the spiritual needs of their organizations.



It is the desire of VVA's membership, as expressed in VVA National Convention Resolution V-787, to have the Board of Directors prepare guidelines concerning the duties, selection process and certification of volunteer VVA Chaplains for use by interested Chapters and State Councils in regard to the VVA Chaplaincy Program.



SECTION I - GENERAL GUIDELINES



A. The VVA Chaplaincy Program is wholly voluntary, both in regard to its adoption by Chapters and State Councils, and in regard to the participation of VVA members in the activities of such a program. Independent of each other, Chapters and State Councils may determine for themselves if they wish to participate.



B. The decision of a Chapter or State Council to participate in the VVA Chaplaincy Program shall be made as follows:



1. CHAPTERS: By a majority vote of the Chapter's membership during a regular meeting of the Chapter and confirmed annually during the Chapter's annual meeting. Such actions shall be reflected in the Chapter's minutes.



2. STATE COUNCILS: By a majority vote of the Council's delegates during a regular meeting of the Council and confirmed biennially concurrent with the election of Council officers. Such action shall be reflected in the Council's minutes.



C. Even if a Chapter or State Council has formally adopted a position of participation in the VVA Chaplaincy Program, the right of an individual to freely choose not to engage in spiritual activities will be respected at all times.



D. Services and other spiritual activities conducted by VVA Chaplains shall be interdenominational and sensitive to all faiths as follows:



1. Activities will foster a climate of religious unity.



2. Activities will be general in nature and universal in their religious content.



E. The VVA Chaplaincy Program will be an informal spiritual welfare support system. As such, the thrust of the program will be to provide individuals who request spiritual assistance with a referral to the formal religious community of their choice. The program should also serve to enlighten the formal religious community as to the special problems, needs and spiritual concerns of Vietnam veterans and their families.



F. Due to potential organizational liability and other malpractice considerations VVA Chaplains, acting as such, are prohibited from engaging in pastoral counseling of VVA members. If, a VVA Chaplain is also a certified Pastoral Counselor, or holds professional degrees or licenses in Psychology, Psychotherapy or Social Work, that Chaplain will not perform such professional services in the name of VVA, the local Chapter nor the State Council.



1. The parameters of services provided to the Chapter or State Council by a VVA Chaplain are religious/spiritual services.



2. Counseling of a VVA member by a VVA Chaplain is to be in the Chaplain's place of professional ministry and offered and undertaken only in the context of such professional service. In all cases, such Counseling shall be separate and apart from the volunteer service of the VVA Chaplain to the VVA.



3. Because of the volunteer nature of the VVA Chaplaincy program and the precisely defined parameters within which Chaplains are to offer services, VVA will not be liable or assume any legal responsibility due to any actions filed against a VVA Chaplain by another VVA member or by any member of his or her family.



SECTION II - DUTIES OF VVA CHAPLAINS



A. Primarily, the duties of VVA Chaplains shall be as follows:



1. Conducting spiritual ceremonies for their respective Chapter or State Council. Spiritual ceremonies conducted by VVA Chaplains shall be restricted to those deemed to be appropriate and authorized by the Chaplain's respective Board of Directors or State Council.



2. Tending to the spiritual welfare of VVA members. In many cases a VVA member will be a practicing member of a congregation. Accordingly, the responsibility of the VVA Chaplain for the member's spiritual welfare is shared with, but secondary to the member's personal pastor, priest, rabbi or spiritual leader of his or her faith group. In other cases, the VVA Chaplain will primarily serve a member's spiritual needs by referring the member requesting such assistance to a formal religious contact.



3. To foster and encourage an understanding within the formal religious community of the special problems, needs and spiritual concerns of Vietnam Veterans and their families.



4. Other duties deemed to be desired and appropriate by the Chaplain's respective Board of Directors or State Council, provided they are consistent with the provisions of these guidelines governing the VVA Chaplaincy Program.



SECTION II - APPOINTMENT REQUIREMENTS FOR VVA CHAPLAINS



A. VVA Chaplains appointed by a Chapter must meet one of the following criteria:



1. Served as a Chaplain during the Vietnam Era. Such service must be documented by the Chaplain's military service records,



2. Is a Vietnam-era veteran currently serving as a Military Chaplain in one of the uniformed services of the United States Armed Forces. Such service must be documented by the Chaplain's military service records or by a letter from his or her Commanding Officer.



3. Is a Vietnam-era veteran who is now ordained or serving as a licensed minister with a call (appointment) according to his or her denominational endorser. A copy of the individual's ordination certificate, license or call is acceptable evidence of such a qualification.



4. Is a Vietnam-era veteran who is not ordained, however is currently involved in some other significant way in local congregation. Documentation of such involvement, detailing lay education and experience, by the individual's pastor, priest, rabbi or spiritual leader of his or her faith group may be accepted.



B. VVA Chaplains appointed by a State Council must meet one of the following criteria:



1. Served as Chaplain during the Vietnam Era. Such service must be documented by the Chaplain's military service records.



2. Is a Vietnam-era veteran currently serving as a military chaplain in one of the uniformed services of the United States Armed Forces. Such service must be documented by the Chaplain's military service records or by a letter from his or her Commanding Officer.



3. Is a Vietnam-era veteran who is now ordained or serving as a licensed minister with a call (appointment) according to his or her denominational endorser. A copy of the individual's ordination certificate, license or call is acceptable evidence of such a qualification.



SECTION IV - SELECTION AND CERTIFICATION PROCESS FOR VVA CHAPLAINS



A. The selection of VVA Chaplains by Chapters or State Councils that have decided to participate in the VVA Chaplaincy Program shall be made as follows:



1. CHAPTERS: A VVA Chapter Chaplain, meeting the minimum certification requirements established above, shall be appointed by the Chapter President subject to confirmation by the Chapter's Board of Directors. Within 60 days of confirmation, the Chapter Secretary shall forward the following through the State Council (or in the case of a State not having a State Council, directly) to the VVA National Secretary.



a. Documentation indicating that the Chaplain meets at least one of the requirements specified in Section 111-A of these guidelines.



b. Copies of the Chapter's minutes for the meeting at which participation in the VVA Chaplaincy Program was adopted and copies of the Board minutes appointing the VVA Chaplain.



C. A copy of the Chaplain's DD-214 or other proof of military service.



2. STATE COUNCIL: A VVA State Chaplain, meeting the minimum certification requirements established above, shall be appointed by the State Council President subject to confirmation by the State Council. Within 60 days of confirmation, the State Council Secretary shall forward the following to the VVA National Secretary:



a. Documentation indicating that the Chaplain meets at least one of the requirements specified in Section Ill-B of these guidelines.



b. A letter signed by the State Council Secretary indicating that the Council has voted to participate in the VVA Chaplaincy Program and also indicating the Council's confirmation of the State Council President's appointment of the VVA Chaplain.



c. A copy of the Chaplain's DD-214 or other proof of military service.



B. Certification of Chapter and State Council Chaplains will be accomplished by a letter from the VVA National Secretary to the Chaplain, with a copy of the certification also being forwarded to the VVA National Chaplain, to the appropriate Chapter and/or State Council. The VVA National Secretary may issue such certifications when each of the following conditions have been fulfilled:



1. When a copy of the Chapter's minutes or a letter from the State Council indicating a desire by the Chapter or State Council to participate in the VVA Chaplaincy Program has been received by the VVA National Secretary.



2. When a copy of the Chapter's Board minutes or a letter from the State Council indicating appointment of a VVA Chaplain has been received by the V\/A National Secretary.



SECTION V - OFFICE OF THE VVA NATIONAL CHAPLAIN



A. The position of VVA National Chaplain was established by the 1993 National Convention resolution M-17-93.



B. The Duties of the VVA National Chaplain



1 The VVA National Chaplain will be primarily responsible for the spiritual wellbeing of the National organization.



2. Will serve at the pleasure of the VVA National President and his/her Executive Board and be available to provide spiritual coverage at special National functions and Veterans observances.



3. Will be the liaison between VVA and the Director of Chaplain Services of the Department of Veterans Affairs, the Military Chaplains Association and the National Chaplains of the other veterans service organizations.



4. Will receive notices of all deceased members of VVA and its Associates and publicize the obituaries through the National communication system, i.e., The 'VVA Veteran' and the national office mailings. The State Councils and/or Chapters will be responsible to submit death notices directly to National or to the National Chaplain.



5. Will provide and assure religious coverage at the National Convention for worship and memorial services.



6. Will coordinate the VVA Chaplaincy Program by providing leadership and guidance to all State and Chapter Chaplains through regular networking with them. Will prepare a workshop for State and Chapter Chaplains at the National Convention,



C. Appointment Requirement for the VVA National Chaplain



The VVA National Chaplain appointed by the National President must meet one of the following criteria:



1. Served as a Chaplain during the Vietnam Era. Such service must be documented by the Chaplain's military service records.



2. Is a Vietnam-era veteran currently serving as a Military Chaplain in one of the uniformed services of the United States Armed Forces. Such service must be documented by the Chaplain's military service records or by a letter from his or her Commanding Officer.



3. Is a Vietnam-era veteran who is now ordained or serving as a licensed minister with a call (appointment) according to his or her denominational endorser. A copy of the individual's ordination certificate, license, or call is acceptable evidence of such a qualification.



D. Selection and Certification Process for the VVA National Chaplain



1. The VVA National Chaplain, meeting the minimum certification requirements established above, shall be appointed by the VVA National President subject to confirmation by the National Executive Board.



2. The VVA National Chaplain candidate(s) will furnish to the VVA National Secretary the following:



a. Documentation indicating that tile Chaplain meets at least one of the requirements specified in Section V-C of these guidelines.



b. A copy of the Chaplain's DD-214 or other proof of military service.



3. Certification of the VVA National Chaplain will be accomplished by a letter from the VVA National Secretary to the Chaplain receiving the appointment



4. Within 60 days of the certification and notification of appointment of the VVA National Chaplain, the National Secretary will make the appropriate announcements to the entire VVA membership via the 'VVA Veteran' and the national office mailings.




Approved by VVA National Board of Directors, July 13, 1996.
©1996 Vietnam Veterans of America, Inc. All Rights Reserved.

Updated March 21, 1999

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