By David Lichter
This issue is devoted to caring for our military veterans. Some quality articles provide a glimpse at the pastoral care provided to them and their families. We are grateful to the contributors. However, there is another Catholic association whose mission is to serve these veterans, the National Conference of Veterans Affairs Catholic Chaplains (NCVACC).
In 1984, over fifty Catholic VA chaplains sought to organize to provide mutual support for Catholic priests serving in the chaplain service of the Department of Veteran Affairs. The NCVACC remains the Catholic organization for communication with the Archdiocese for the Military Services, USA, and has a national episcopal advisor. They provide ongoing training, certification, and professional development for all phases of Veterans Affairs pastoral care. Their standards and procedures for certification for chaplaincy were first approved in 1988 by what was then United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ Commission on Certification and Accreditation. They also worked closely with us, the NACC, to ensure their certification standards and procedures aligned with those of our strategic partners, as well as the added Catholic standards that the NACC included in 2007 for the approval by the USCCB/CCA and in 2014 for approval of the USCCB Subcommittee on Certification of Ecclesial Ministry and Service (SCEMS).
Given our close partnership and certification alignment, and with the encouragement of the SCEMS, the NCVACC and NACC leadership have been in dialogue over the past couple years with the intent of having the NACC assume the board certification of the NCVACC members. Since the NCVACC already had the same qualifications and competencies as the NACC, with added competencies for veteran affairs, this partnership was a relatively easy decision.
In April 2019, the NCVACC leaders announced that the NACC will assume the certification and renewal of certification of its members. An NCVACC member who seeks to become board certified or renew his board certification would become an NACC member and be certified or renew his certification as a member of NACC. The NACC would offer a BCC-VA specialty certification for those NCVACC members, adding the distinctive VA-specific competencies to our existing qualifications and competencies. This partnership is effective starting January 2020.
We are grateful to the NCVACC leaders, the leaders of our NACC Certification and Competencies Commissions, and our Board of Directors for their discernment and decision-making, as well as to the SCEMS for its encouragement and support. We welcome our NCVACC colleagues as they become members of the NACC and work with us to advocate for the profession of spiritual care and educate, certify, and support chaplains and all members who continue the healing ministry of Jesus in the name of the Church.