There have been numerous articles, columns and letters recently concerning the removal of a chaplain assigned to the Naval Nuclear Power Training Command for shaming sailors regarding homosexuality and premarital sex.

I feel an opportunity is being missed by not discussing a possible permanent fix to the problem: the phasing out of all military chaplains.

With severe military budget cuts looming once again, and as both society and the military become more and more secular and accepting of same-sex relationships, the continued need for a military chaplaincy should be given proper scrutiny.

Military chaplains are funded by taxpayers, bestowed with officer rank and are eligible for generous retirement benefits.

In defense budget negotiations, one of the chief arguments put forth justifying the closing of military commissaries is the ample availability of off-base grocery stores.

Similarly, the religious services that chaplains perform, such as marriage ceremonies and sermons, could be provided at no cost to the taxpayer by religious institutions in the local community.

The religious needs of service members in conflict zones could be met in ways that do not require on-site chaplains.

Non-religious services of chaplains, such as counseling, could and should be provided by professional counselors, psychologists and psychiatrists. Of course, there also needs to be a concerted effort to eliminate any stigma associated with seeking out the assistance of such professionals.

Perhaps alternatively, consideration should be given to a volunteer chaplain corps.

Daniel O’Neal

Major, U.S. Air Force (Ret.)

Faber Place Drive

North Charleston