This cannot stand. When a military chaplain cannot openly speak about his faith, military disarmament has reached a level that no budget cuts could ever produce.
On November 20th, Capt. Joseph Lawhorn, U.S. Army Chaplain at Fort Benning, participated in a mandatory suicide awareness and prevention briefing in which he gave a presentation describing resources – both spiritual and secular – that were available for handling such grave mental health situations. He went further and discussed his personal struggles with depression, describing the spiritual and religious steps that helped him during those dark times in his life.
As a result of the chaplain’s discussion of his faith, he was called into his brigade commander’s office on Thanksgiving Day. There Col. David G. Fivecoat issued Chaplain Lawhorn a Letter of Concern that is to remain in his personnel file for the duration of his stay at Fort Benning. This type of letter can be devastating for career military personnel and would likely prohibit further professional advancement of Chaplain Lawhorn.
The fact that a chaplain was reprimanded for discussing his faith in a suicide prevention course is beyond belief. It casts a chilling effect upon other chaplains and military personnel who would speak about their faith. How else would a Christian chaplain be expected to respond to a crisis that is plaguing our men and women in uniform?
This kind of intimidation must be eradicated from our armed forces. Please join me in signing our petition to Secretary of the Army John McHugh to rescind the Letter of Concern and to reprimand Col. Fivecoat for violating protections afforded to all military personnel enacted into law in the National Defense Authorization Act.
With your help, we can help put on notice those who would be emboldened to take similar actions against chaplains in the future that actions like this cannot stand.
Lt. Gen. William G. “Jerry” Boykin, USA (Ret.)
Executive Vice President