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Need for Chaplains in Fire Departments

June 21, 2003

Re "Suit Challenges Firefighter-Chaplains," June 17: As the mother of a California Department of Forestry and Fire Protection employee, I am very grateful that there is a chaplaincy program in place. Firefighting is a difficult, dangerous profession and bad things can happen to good people in it.

I personally met Jay Donnelly, head chaplain, at my son's graduation from the CDF Academy and heard a presentation given by him to the families of CDF personnel. At no time did he either proselytize or mention religion in any way other than to mention the diversity of CDF employees. He wore no symbols on his clothing other than the approved CDF ones for his rank.

My suggestion to those who oppose the chaplaincy program is to simply not avail themselves of it.

S.D. Walker



Fortunately, most people can't speak from experience in using the services of chaplains, but I can, and I respectfully appreciate their assistance to the public.

Six years ago, several officers came to my door and informed me that my first wife and my son were involved in a traffic accident. Because of a major investigation resulting from the seriousness of the accident, it was four hours of waiting until a team of investigators and Chaplain Larry Modugno from the Ventura County Fire Department came to inform me that both had passed away. Seeing the chaplain walk in first said it all -- no words were needed as I fell to the ground, knowing a tragedy had happened. In the following weeks and months, Modugno talked and visited with me on several occasions, which slowly helped me survive this event.

Not having Modugno's assistance would have been detrimental to my health as well as for the many that he serves throughout his long days. I'm sure that no religion is forced or "inserted" into the workplace, but I am sure that these services are needed.

Larry Bickmann

Thousand Oaks

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