MAXWELL AIR FORCE BASE, Ala. (AFNS) —
First Lt. Saleha Jabeen, the U.S. military’s first female Muslim chaplain, graduated from Air Force Basic Chaplain Course Feb. 5 at Maxwell Air Force Base.
The graduation ceremony for BCC Class 21A was a historic event as the Air Force aims to foster a more diverse and inclusive service.
Jabeen, a native of India, said she was grateful for the opportunity and aware of the responsibility she has to set an example and show that there is a place in the military for anyone who wants to serve.
“I did not have to compromise on any of my religious beliefs or convictions,” Jabeen said. “I am surrounded with people who respect me and are willing to receive what I bring to the table as a woman, a faith leader, and an immigrant. I am provided with numerous opportunities to learn and develop skills that best equip me to be a successful officer and a chaplain in a pluralistic environment. I get to provide spiritual care to all service members, Guardians and families and advise the commanders on religious and moral matters regardless of my faith, ethnicity or gender. Like our boss says, it has never been a better time to serve as a chaplain in the U.S. Air Force Chaplain Corps.”
All BCC students have advanced degrees and many arrive at the Chaplain Corps College with years of experience as members of the clergy as civilians. Throughout the course, Jabeen and her classmates are instructed how to apply their prior experience within the Air Force.
“My goal is to create chaplains who are ready to provide front-line ministry upon graduation,” said Capt. John Richardson, Air Force Chaplain Corps College staff chaplain. “They are trained to lead the units they serve spiritually. The bottom line is to care for Airmen — every single Airman. When they care for Airmen in a professional way, every other aspect of our calling falls into place: advising leaders and providing for the religious needs of our force.”
Capt. Mara Title, Air Force Chaplain Corps College staff chaplain, believes the newly-graduated students are ready to provide for the spiritual needs of all Airmen across the force, and said Jabeen’s addition to the chaplain corps will be of great benefit to everyone.
“The Air Force Chaplain Corps endeavors to promote diversity in all respects,” Title said. “Chaplain Saleha Jabeen’s presence enables an even broader scope of spiritual care for our Airmen, and for this we are very grateful. She is as determined to take on the role of chaplain as she is kind, caring and compassionate. We are thrilled to have had the opportunity for her to graduate with the class of BCC 21A.”