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India-born Saleha Jabeen becomes US military’s first female Muslim chaplain

First Lt. Saleha Jabeen

Jabeen wants to show US military has a place for anyone who wants to serve.

India born Saleha Jabeen, who has become the US military’s first female Muslim chaplain, says 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,” said First Lt. Jabeen, who graduated from Air Force Basic Chaplain Course Feb. 5 at Maxwell Air Force Base, Alabama.

“The graduation ceremony for BCC Class 21A was a historic event as the Air Force aims to foster a more diverse and inclusive service,” according to a USAF release.

“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,” said Jabeen.

“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 US Air Force Chaplain Corps,” said Jabeen.

Jabeen says she is passionate about her role as a chaplain and takes her duty as a spiritual mentor very seriously.

“We all have a purpose that is specifically meant for us to fulfill,” Jabeen said.

“We must listen to our heart and follow our conviction. It is important to have people in our lives who model that for us. Choose that kind of mentorship and choose good companionship.”

“I just want people to remember that God, or higher power or the values that people uphold, remind us that we all are created with a plan: to become the best versions of ourselves,” Jabeen said.

“There is a ‘why’ for our existence and ultimately it is meant for us to be the best versions of ourselves. Commit to it, accomplish it and uplift others to do the same.”

“Do all that needs to be done with kindness, generosity, resilience and the grit to never quit,” she said.

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, the USAF release said.

Throughout the course, Jabeen and her classmates are instructed how to apply their prior experience within the Air Force, it said.

“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.

Capt. Mara Title, Air Force Chaplain Corps College staff chaplain, 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.”

Jabeen, who came to the US 14 years ago as an international student, was commissioned in December as a Second Lieutenant at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago.

According to her LinkedIn profile, Jabeen completed her BA in Business and Economics at North Park University, followed by an MA in Theology–Inter-religious Dialogue from Catholic Theological Union and course in counseling psychology from Trinity Christian College.

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