American Legion Auxiliary — May 2013
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A Wise Woman Said…

MARGARET KIBBEN
U.S. NavyRearAdmiral

I decided in eighth grade that I wanted to be a minister. The summer after my junior year in high school, I had the chance to visit a boyfriend who had entered the Naval Academy. I realized while visiting him that I would really like to serve in the military. It didn't take long, maybe a day, for me to realize that I could do both if I pursued being a Navy chaplain.

Military Service is a Family Affair. My husband is a retired Marine lieutenant colonel having served the Corps 26 years. My father is a retired lieutenant commander in the Navy. Having enlisted in World War II, he joined the reserves and was later commissioned an officer. I am the seventh naval officer in my family.

I've been active duty for more than 25 years. Each time I'm asked how long I'll stay in, I answer, "as long as the Navy likes me, and I like the Navy." I guess you could say we've liked each other for all these years. I have not only loved this ministry, but I have always felt called to remain in this ministry. There has not been one tour that I have felt that God isn't using me in some way or another. The opportunity to serve sailors and Marines has been one of the greatest gifts God has provided me.

I am rewarded daily by the enthusiasm, dedication and true commitment today's Marines and sailors demonstrate in the face of extreme adversity and challenge. And I am a better person for it, as they "keep me honest" to remain on par with that same level of enthusiasm, dedication and commitment.

Marines represent the essence of "Semper Fi." Obviously, that phrase is intended to mean faithful to the Marine Corps or to the mission, but by and large, most Marines are faithful to their understanding of God. The importance of religion, however, seems to have changed with time. The underlying discussions of faith and life remain the same, but the resources today's Marines draw from have changed. When I first came in, corporate worship services or sitting in Bible studies provided the spiritual answers most were looking for. While that remains important to some, and I'd like to say many, it has become much more personal.

I believe our servicemembers need to fight for the preservation of their humanity and that of their fellow troops. War attempts to rob us of that - sometimes physically, often times emotionally and spiritually. The first thing each servicemember needs to realize is that the battle doesn't just take place on the battlefield; it takes place every moment that our individual and corporate sense of right and wrong is threatened. And it comes home with us. What we have experienced has now become a part of who we are, and will serve to define us for good or ill. We as a Corps, as peers and as individuals, need to take the time to look out for the scars this internal battle leaves, to acknowledge that there is no such thing as coming out of traumatic events unaffected.

On July 9,2010, Kibben became the first female chaplain of the Marine Corps. Serving on the commandant's staff in Washington, her duties include advising the commandant on the delivery of religious ministry and ensuring the Navy Chaplain Corps is manned, trained and equipped to meet religious ministry requirements throughout the Marine Corps.
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