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A True Calling

The Chaplain Services team
The Chaplain Services team

In any organization, experience allows for a more knowledgeable workforce and leads to a better customer experience. At the Ralph H. Johnson VA Health Care System, this has never been truer than in looking at its Chaplain Service.

The Veterans and staff in Charleston and the surrounding Lowcountry area are fortunate to have the experience of over 300 years of ordination in the Chaplain Corps.  These chaplains are well suited to provide the best pastoral care available during times of need.  Whether it be a time of joy or a time of despair, the chaplains called to serve at the Charleston VA are able to provide compassionate care whenever it is necessary.

  Lorenzo Moses, Chief of Chaplain Services, manages a team of six highly regarded chaplains with a combined ordination of 308 years.  His team encompasses many different faiths and a vast background of service to the community and Veterans.  With an average experience of 44 years, Veterans and staff alike have likely had the pleasure of speaking with a chaplain and have undoubtedly walked away feeling as if they have spent a few minutes with a friend.

 “Our longevity has allowed us to know our Veterans and be recognized throughout the facility,” said Moses.  “Our Veterans look forward to seeing us, either on the ward or stopping by our office.”  

The Chaplain Department offers services for a variety of denominations and provides faith- based counseling as needed.  Providing chaplain services to a Veteran population is a calling, and these chaplains constantly strive to be present in the lives of the more than 80,000 Veterans that utilize VA health care services in the Lowcountry.

 “Getting to know our Veterans and being able to provide prayer and comfort is our mission,” said Chaplain Robert Beede.  “We are always here to provide religious care and comfort.”

Being called to serve in an environment like the Charleston VA provides these chaplains with the ability to not only interact with Veterans, but also with the staff.  While many may think a chaplain’s daily job only includes making rounds and providing comfort to patients, the day’s work goes much further.  Moses and his staff are well known faces among the staff as well.  Taking the time to provide a comforting shoulder to staff, especially during the pandemic, is another important part of their job and a wonderful resource to staff.

“We are confidential listeners and here to talk, regardless of the subject,” said Moses. 

Moses credits his staff, Chaplain John Painter, Chaplain Ross Rector, Father Lawrence Abara, Chaplain Robert Beede, Chaplain James Scott, and Chaplain Allen Owen with continuing a legacy of service that has always been present in Charleston. 

“We come from various backgrounds and denominations,” said Moses. “With a majority of our team being Veterans themselves, we are able to connect with the needs of our Veterans and their families.” 

When asked what the biggest message the chaplains’ like to present, Moses said, “It is simple, always remember you have a friend in Chaplain Service.  We are here for you.”

Chaplain Service, located on the first floor of the medical center, next to the chapel, is manned from 7:00 a.m. until 4:30 p.m., Monday through Friday, and a chaplain is always on call after hours and weekends. Chaplains also provide virtual offerings to Veterans and staff at the surrounding VA outpatient clinics.

For more information on the services provided by the Chaplain Department, or to schedule an appointment, please call (843) 789-7235.

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