Coggins has served as a chaplain for 22 years, and her experience in the military has added to her reasons for the importance of female chaplains.

"When Soldiers are hurt, scared and at low moments, a wounded or dying Soldier will cry out for one of two peopleā€¦ God or mama," Coggins said. "I represent both of those as a female chaplain, and it's very comforting."

All the way up to the present day Army, female chaplains have played a vital role in the Chaplain Corps.

"Female chaplains bring unique gifts and abilities that strengthen our corps both as individuals and as a body," said Lt. Col. Jeffrey Zust, 19th Expeditionary Sustainment Command Chaplain. "Every female chaplain I have supervised or have worked for has made me a better chaplain."

Even though the number of females serving in the Army has grown, they still represent a minute percentage in the Army's Chaplain Corps.

"We have not had many female chaplains ahead of me, and when I came in, it was a small percentage, and it continues to be a very small percentage," Coggins said. "In the active component, female chaplains are only six percent of the Chaplaincy Corps."

Coggins used her military experiences while working in Al Salem (Kuwait) to explain that the Chaplains' primary focus is relating to the Soldiers on the field.

"If you have not been there and done that, you can't hear and understand their stories," Coggins said. "But it is the Chaplains who have the military training. They are the ones walking in the mud out to see the Soldiers way out in the range."

Chaplains' duties put them in a unique situation when dealing with Soldiers on the battlefield.

"We are risking our lives as non-combatants and it's important that we relate to Soldiers," Coggins said.

Page last updated Wed April 18th, 2012 at 03:50