LANDSTUHL, Germany -- After spending four weeks at Landstuhl Regional Medical Center, a small group of chaplains from Norway and Sweden graduated from the Norwegian Defense Chaplaincy's Clinical Pastoral Education course on June 28 in a ceremony held in Norway. The eight week CPE course, which focuses on preparing military chaplains to function well in a hospital setting and providing pastoral care to wounded men and women in the military, was held at both LRMC and the Institute for Pastoral Care and Counseling in Norway. One Swedish and five Norwegian chaplains successfully completed the course.

Led by the Norwegian CPE Supervisor Chaplain Kyrre Klevberg, the course consists of topics ranging from grief counseling and family systems to self-assessment and spirituality, all with the goal of maintaining pastoral readiness for trauma and crisis ministry.

Chaplain (Col.) Karen Meeker, former chief of the LRMC clinical pastoral division, was a central part of this endeavor.

"The chief chaplains of both Norway and Sweden expressed the need to conduct this type of vocational development in a time of relative peace so as to be ready for combat," said Meeker.

Norway does not have a military medical treatment facility so the partnership between Meeker and Klevberg seemed a natural fit.

"Without [Meeker's] strong support, we would not have been able to conduct this valuable training at LRMC," said Klevberg.

Unlike the combat medical ministry and emergency medical ministry courses for chaplains and chaplains' assistants which focuses on battlefield ministry, the clinical pastoral education course centers around care in a hospital. During the course at LRMC, participants were able to provide care to patients and experienced receiving incoming flights transporting wounded service members from forward operations. In addition, the chaplains were able to give classes to inpatients in the behavioral health ward.

"[Col. Meeker] continues to be a great advocate for LRMC and for the joint CPE effort," said Klevberg, who will return to LRMC in the fall with another Norwegian chaplain to prepare for the 2019 course. That course is scheduled to be an 11 week program held entirely at LRMC.

In addition to the two chaplains, Norway is also sending a professor from the Oslo School of Theology as well as the director of the Institute of Pastoral Care at Modum Bad, Norway. The Danish military also intends to send a chaplain to the course next year.

"The [foreign chaplains] repeatedly expressed their appreciation to LRMC for the opportunity to train at the hospital," said Meeker. "Their time in Germany [was] the highlight of their experience."

Meeker has since departed LRMC to take a position at the Office of the Chief of Chaplains in Washington D.C. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Leslie Forbes-Mariani has assumed the position of chief of the LRMC clinical pastoral division.

The CPE course is open to chaplains of all denominations.