School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Education in Community Care and Counseling (EdD)


Mark Holland


Military Chaplain, Secondary Traumatic Stress, Vicarious Trauma




The United States military has been involved in some level of active combat since 2001. The wars in Iraq and Afghanistan are no longer as active as they were in previous years, yet the hidden wounds of war are still carried by those that have gone forward. The psychological wounds of war, particularly post-traumatic stress disorder, have been highlighted by increased direct combat experiences of service members. To alleviate these symptoms, the military has a mental health provider network to assist those in need. Within this network, military chaplains are often called to provide immediate emotional and psychological support for those experiencing post-traumatic stress symptomology. Research has shown a correlation between trauma counseling and secondary traumatic stress. This study focused on military chaplains, their wartime experiences, and how their psychological fitness has been impacted by trauma counseling. A majority of the chaplains who participated in this research indicated that they had performed many PTSD counseling sessions. Their experiences have resulted in some level of adverse effects on their psyches. Most chaplains had little to no combat experience, yet the chaplains that performed PTSD counseling demonstrated some disruption in their feelings and thought processes.

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