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Chaplain Service

Provide exceptional spiritual care within a pluralistic clinical setting utilizing innovative technologies and advanced techniques, while reinforcing staff resiliency to capitalize on positive health outcomes. Also, offer Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) to enhance one’s theological understanding and knowledge of the behavioral sciences.

Our Vision:

To provide excellent and quality emotional support and spiritual care to every Veteran patient, their family members, and VA staff at the RRVAMC.

Our Goals:

  • To deliver specific counseling and spiritual-therapeutic interventions to Veterans, in collaboration with the Veteran and their support systems.
  • To provide religious services and ceremonies for Veterans, their family members, and VA employees.
  • To provide spiritual counseling services to Veterans, their family members and VA employees.
  • To provide end-of-life spiritual and emotional support to our Veterans and their family members.

We provide the following services:

  • Bereavement support
  • Spiritual and grief counseling
  • End-of-life care
  • Sacramental ministry (communion, anointing of the sick, and last rites)
  • Support groups, interfaith meetings, and more

Robley Rex VA Medical Center, Clinical Pastoral Education (CPE) Center
What is Clinical Pastoral Education?

  • A small group of peers interacting in a common learning experience
  • A process conception of learning
  • Specific clinical practice of ministry to persons
  • Detailed reporting and evaluation of that clinical practice
  • Expectations to allow for the reflection and practice of ministry to occur
  • Written and oral verbatim reports of ministry experience
  • Selected readings and reporting
  • Personal learning contract for professional growth and development
  • Individual supervision by a Certified Educator
  • Final evaluations for each unit

The Individual Learning Contract
The CPE Intern’s contract is developed around the following learning goal categories.

  • Pastoral Reflection - reflection on one's self as a person and pastor in relationship to persons in crisis, the supervisor, and peer group members, as well as the curriculum and institutional setting.
  • Pastoral Formation - focus on personal and pastoral identity issues in learning and ministry.
  • Pastoral Competence - deepening of competence in pastoral function, pastoral skills, and knowledge of theology and the behavioral sciences. 

Instructional Philosophy
We are committed to the development of compassionate and competent spiritual caregivers through an action/reflection/action model that uses the student’s personal identity, family history, social location and spiritual orientations. Learning to deeply hear the spiritual dimensions of life in moments of loss and grief helps adult learners articulate their own personal theology. This reflective process increases self-awareness and develops pastoral skills. By employing a multicultural and multi-faith perspective in an experiential learning environment, each intern can develop a unique style of ministry based on the new insights fostered. The goal of our program is to value the experience interns bring with them and to mentor each intern’s distinctive path towards growing their pastoral heart while learning the art of spiritual care. The curriculum emphasizes experiential learning with attention to spiritual care visits, listening skills, how to complete spiritual assessments, self-awareness, grief, working theories, counseling techniques, and spiritual-therapeutic interventions. Educational methodologies include the following: case studies (in a verbatim format), one-on-one education with the Certified Educator, mentoring by Clinical Staff Chaplains and interactive learning within the peer group. It also includes gaining experience of leading religious services in the RRVAMC Chapel, once each week.

Instructional Program
The Robley Rex CPE Center is currently offering 2 Extended CPE Units, without compensation (WOC) during the federal fiscal year.

  • Extended Unit: October 3rd through March 31st
  • Extended Unit: April 17th through September 29th 

One unit of Association of Clinical Pastoral Education (ACPE) accredited CPE and a Master of Divinity (M.Div.) degree or an equivalent degree is strongly preferred for all applicants, but not mandatory. 

Goal of Program
The goal of the internship program is to prepare Chaplain Interns to become Board-Certified Chaplains within the VA system. The core curriculum focuses on the following four components:

  1. Pastoral identity and how interns have come to understand themselves as pastoral caregivers through a life-long process of development. 
  2. Grief and loss through engagement of themes of loss, dying, and death with attention to interns’ own grief dynamics.  Interns explore what meaning they give to their experience along with possibilities they discern for new meaning.
  3. Trauma and Moral Injury that explores cultural, social, and spiritual/religious perspectives that shape how we recognize and give meaning to traumatic events.  Interns also explore the betrayal, abuse of power, and violation of values related to Moral Injury and the impact on Veterans. 
  4. Chaplaincy and Mental Health Integration as a foundation for the multidisciplinary and holistic care of Veterans struggling with mental illness.  Interns examine their assumptions and theological worldviews around mental illness.  They also engage the concept of diagnosis as it applies to mental illness, and how diagnosis relates to the ability of caregivers to provide pastoral care to the mentally ill.

How to Apply
Complete an ACPE application by visiting ACPE: go to Resources > Forms & Applications. All materials need to be written at a graduate school level of quality.

Regarding the application essays:

  • Reasonably full account of your life (how did persons and events in your life influence who you are today?): 2-4 pages (double spaced)
  • Spiritual growth and development: 3-5 pages (double spaced)
  • Description of your work: listing is sufficient or resume
  • An account of a helping incident or verbatim (what does it show about your current view of ministry?): 2-3 pages (double spaced)
  • Impressions of CPE (what do you want to learn?): 1-2 pages (double spaced)

Please email all completed CPE applications for the FY2023 – FY2024 CPE Year to If you have any questions, please feel free to contact the Chaplain Service main office at .