US Military Count on Pipe Smoking as Essential Therapy While Serving in the Middle East

Ch. A.P.Sholtes is the hospital Chaplain at the Marine Base in KandaharI am not a tremendous reader of books. My attention span for these activities is not something I was born with. My reading at this point is basically limited to our trade publications, computing, programming and networking so I can stay ahead of the changes that affect P&C now and in the future. I will admit that one of my favorite magazines is the Reader’s Digest. The articles seem to be written in a fashion that suits me and are limited to basically 4-5 pages in a 4″x6″ format. I got the latest issue (November 2011) a couple of weeks ago and about 3/4 of the way through it I ran across an article about Chaplains in the Military or more specifically Marine Chaplains in Kandahar. I quickly scanned the article for pictures which helps me determine my level of interest and I came across a photo of two Chaplains enjoying their pipes on the Kandahar Airfield flight line! Me being me, I quickly looked for names, jotted them down and logged in to the admin section of P&C to see if they might be a customer of ours and BINGO!

Ch. A.P.Sholtes is the hospital Chaplain at the Marine Base. So I crafted an email to Ch. A.P.Sholtes to let him know that I saw the article (yes, I read it first) and he informs me that they not only are customers but they created a pipe club in the desert complete with t-Shirts and patches.

To paraphrase the article it speaks of the daily activities of the Chaplains, the news they have to deliver to families back home, the services they give to our troops and a myriad of other duties and responsibilities.

The following is taken directly from Reader’s Digest November 2011:

Pipe smoking Marine Chaplain created pipe club in the desertFor all their conversations and near constant interaction with the troops, chaplains can have a lonely job, expected to always be the one with answers, never with questions or doubts, never in need of support themselves. They often turn to other chaplains for counsel and seek out their own ways of coping. Sholtes finds refuge a short walk away, on the Kandahar Airfield flight line. As the day stretches into late afternoon and the temperature drops to somewhere near comfortable, he settles into a folding chair and slips a pipe and a pouch of tobacco from his pocket. “This is not recreation, ” Sholtes says of the pipe. “This is therapy. This is essential.”

"I consider the tobacco I put in my pipe all the grief and suffering," he says. "And I will burn it."Even with the occasional earsplitting noise, the flight line is peaceful. Sholtes watches the constant motion, takeoffs, and landings. Jet fighters scream overhead, and attack helicopters cruise by, rotors beating the air. Sholtes lights his pipe, exhales a rich, white puff of smoke, and leans back in his chair. “I consider the tobacco I put in my pipe all the grief and suffering,” he says. “And I will burn it.”

I have never looked at it that way, but I will now.