Last night at Quilt Guild (of which, for my sins, I am President this year and next), we had a guest speaker. Lieutenant-Colonel L was a Canadian Armed Forces Chaplain from 1988 to 2015 and served tours in Kosovo and Afghanistan. She gave an absolutely wonderful talk with lots of great photos of the Canadian Army encampments in Kosovo and Afghanistan, lots of details about what she did as Chaplain, and what her role in the military was like. She explained a "Tactical Landing" (of a troup-transport aircraft), why they repatriate the bodies of dead service-men and -women at night, how bad sandstorms really are, how cumbersome body armour is, "Yes, the food is really that bad," how to sleep when it's 30 degrees C at night, the lengths a war-hardened soldier will to go for an Orange Tang Popsicle, "Those scenes in M*A*S*H where all the bras and underwear are hanging all over the tents to dry - yes."
So my writer's brain had an absolutely wonderful time sopping up every little bit of knowledge and atmosphere, which she did a fantastic job imparting. She also showed us the quilts she had made while she was deployed, and then passed around her medals, and a piece of standard-issue kit called a "Ranger blanket
" Oh. My. Gods. I must have one. They're ugly cammo green, but they are so warm and so light it's amazing. As soon as I have $50 I'm getting one from an Army Surplus website, and be sure that they will be showing up in my fic regularly from now on.
After the presentation I asked her whether the Canadian Army had an equivalent to MOS 56M (Chaplain assistant)
, but she said they didn't. That her driver would fulfill the role of bodyguard whenever she was "outside the wire" and that the roles of Chaplain were quite different between Canada & the US, so the other "assistant" functions of a Chaplain's Assistant weren't needed. And also, if she ever needed help with anything, she never had trouble finding it. Everyone was always happy to help the Chaplain in a war zone...
While I did tell her I was a writer to explain why I was asking, I of course didn't mention that my extensive research of US Army MOSs was due to research I'd done for writing gay romance novels. Though she was a United Church of Canada minister, who are about as liberal as you can get while still being Christian, so she probably wouldn't have been offended...