Friday, May 11, 2007

Combat Haircuts

As y'all know, giving free haircuts to Soldiers (whether here at Camp Blue Diamond or at any of the Combat Out Posts) is a regular part of my ministry. I learned to cut hair during my first deployment to Iraq in 2005. I quickly picked up the art, and I do a pretty good job. I can do any type of fade (strait or kinky hair), high and tight, flat top, or what I call the Air Force cut (a style that's long like John Travolta's). With it getting hotter (highs are now around 115, and it's only May!), many Soldiers are saying: "Chaplain, just take it all off." As you can imagine, many Soldiers have tough outer shells, which can restrict ministry. Because they have to trust me enough to let me touch them--come inside their personal space--they learn to trust me with the personal issues going on in their lives. While they get their hair cut, Soldiers can grieve the loss of their buddies, talk about their fears, marital problems, questions of faith, and whether SEC football is truly better than Big 10 (which it is). I cut my commander's hair, Privates' hair--and everyone in between including our women soldiers and civilian interpreters. In fact, my biggest customers are the Marines; there's something about the word "free" that attracts them in droves.

Lately I have been averaging more than 50 haircuts each week; my record is 92. I don't allow anyone to sweep up afterwards, either; it is full service ministry. Sometimes, Soldiers want to pay me or give me a tip (which is illegal for me to accept); I tell them doing so would rob me from the privilege of serving them, and that service is worth more to me than a few bucks--it makes them think. Cutting hair is both physically and emotionally tiring. It is even more difficult out at the COPs with the heat. So far, the ministry benefits outweigh the costs of fatigue and irritation caused by sweat and hair clippings.
Sergeant Tremain, my assistant, has expressed interest in learning to cut hair too! (evil grin, here) In a matter of two months, he has learned to cut most of the styles guys request. This is a real relief. (Pictured here is CPL Taylor with SGT T, who gave him a haircut that makes him look like he's 70 or a monk. This and the Mohawk below were comic, intermediate cuts; the finished products were well within regulations. Haircuts say a lot about a Soldier--even out here.) Chaplain Mason, from 5-7 CAV emailed that he and his assistant have picked up this practice too, and their Troopers love it.

Every Saturday after Catholic Mass, we set up the barber shop here in our chapel at Camp Blue Diamond. We play DVDs on the laptop that's connected to a projector that thows the movie up on the chapel wall for the guys to watch while they wait in line. (If any of you have any DVD's you want to donate for the cause: Chaplain J. Nathan Kline; HHC 3-69 AR; Camp Blue Diamond; APO, AE 09346). I've included a few pictures of this ministry I hope you'll enjoy. Thanks for your prayers and support. Please pass the link to this page to a love one?


Paradox said...

Is it at all possible for women to serve as LDS chaplains or chaplain's assistants in the US military?

Chaplain Kline said...

There are women chaplains and chaplain assistants serving in all branches of the US Military. However, a woman's endorsing agency (usually her denomination) must be willing to ordain women. So Catholics, Latter-day Saints, and some of the more conservative Evangelical denominations will not have women chaplains, only assistants. Women who are chaplains do not serve in combat arms line units, but serve the Soldiers, Sailors, Airmen or Marines in support units (mechanics, military intelligence, communications, etc.).

Anonymous said...

Thanks so much for what you're doing. I found your page from my "Google news alerts" since my nephew is now at Camp Blue Diamond with 3-69 Armor. I can't tell how much it helps to see what's up with all of you with our loved ones away. Mike is there for his 2nd deployment, too, with 1 BT 3rd ID. I'll be looking for more of your posts! Thanks for taking care of our loved ones in any way you can. Their families appreciate it more than we can say!! Stay safe and God bless!!

Bobbi Hayes said...

Thanks so much for posting the pictures and blogs. It gives me a kind of safe feeling know that you and Eric are ok. It is surreal to see the is kind of like "wow, they really are in a far away land." When I talk to Eric on the phone it is like he is just right down the road at work but when I see the pictures it lets me know that he really is far away. I AM SO PROUD OF YOU TWO AND ALL OF THE OTHER MEN AND WOMEN WHO PUT THEIR LIVES ON THE LINES SO THAT WE MAY SLEEP PEACEFULLY EACH NIGHT WE CRAWL INTO OUR BEDS!! We miss you guys. You are forever in our thoughts and prayers. God bless you Chaplain Kline!!


amanda anne said...

Chaplain Kline! I've heard so much about you! I'm Sgt. Taylor's gal, Amanda. Let me just say, when I was emailed that you have a blog I just knew there would be an incriminating photo of Kris...sure enough, a picture of him with a very unique haircut! I can't tell you how wonderful it is to see these pictures and hear what you have been up to. Kris really enjoys the time he gets to talk with you and I thank you so much for that!

I will continue to read the blog and pass it on to family members as well. Thanks!!


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