Chaplain’s Guide

State Chaplain Peter Hook organized these resources to help Post and District Chaplains understand and carry out their important responsibilities. Questions or comments can be directed to Chaplain Hook: Rev. Peter R. Hook, PA VFW State Chaplain, 534 Parkvale Ave., Langhorne, PA 19047, [email protected] or (267) 229-7722.

Pennsylvania VFW Post Chaplains are encouraged to report their activity on a regular basis using a new feature that capture the entered data and stores it for easy review by Chaplain Hook. To submit your Post Chaplain activity please use this link and provide as much detailed information as possible.

Posts are encouraged to submit nominations for the annual Department Post Chaplain Award. Here’s a guideline to preparing entries Department Chaplain of the Year Award.

Chaplain of the Year:
Chaplain of the Year Criteria and Time Line
2011 – Lloyd Drake, Post 5207 Daleville
2012 – Bill Nelson, Post 8724 Duncannon
2013 – Robert Stricklin, Post 33 Greensburg
2014 – Phil Atwood, Post 928 Folsom
2015 – John Grillo, Post 92 Lower Burrell
2016 – Patrick Johnson, Post 7043 Coalport
2017 – Timothy McCracken, Post 7842 Linesville
2018 – Gene Staudt, Post 914 West Mifflin
2019 – Charlie Castelluccio, Post 5958 Titusville


What to do When Someone Leaves Your Post

Hospital Visits and Safeguarding Confidentiality

Offering Prayers

Discerning Good and Evil

National Chaplain Event Planned for May

Today’s Planning for Tomorrow’s Needs

Funeral Planning for the Veteran and Their Families

Continuing to Grow and Develop

Developing a Caring Culture

Handling Difficult Situations

Hospice Care Companies and Veterans

Who’s Gonna Fill Our Shoes

Relating to Everyone

Keeping Our Word

The Purpose of the Chaplain

The Reading of the Ritual Prayers

The Work of a Chaplain

Do You Know Your Chaplain?

Perpetuating the Memory and History of Our Dead – See bottom of this page.

Public Occasions Put the Chaplain Center Stage

When a Crisis Happens …  Apply the “A-B-C ” Approach

Funeral Planning for Veterans

Funeral Planning for Veterans – Part II

Duties, Responsibilities and Post Meeting Guides
Duties of a Chaplain

Duties and Responsibilities of a Post Chaplain

The Role and Responsibility of a District Chaplain

VFW Cover Etiquette & Ritual Ambiguity

Forms and Resources
Fillable Monthly Chaplain’s Report

Chaplain’s Report Form

Chaplain’s Resource Manual (Revised 2018)

Memorial Service for Veteran Bulletin Template – When printed on one 8 ½ x 11 double sided this can be folded like a church bulletin with the picture of the deceased on the front cover:  Word Document | PDF


General Prayers
A Prayer to Start the Day

A Prayer to End the Day

Ritual Prayers
Public Reading of Ritual Prayers

VFW Post Meeting Prayers (updated 2019)

Hospital Visitation
A Jewish Tradition Healing Prayer

A Prayer When in a Hospital Room

A Prayer When in Pain

A Prayer Before Surgery

A Prayer for Healing

A Prayer for Support – O God, You know the disappointment, the discouragement, the anxiety, the loneliness, and yes, even the anger I feel because my prognosis is not good. I can only pray that you will give me and my loved ones the strength to face what ever lies ahead. Help me not to panic. Let us be open and honest with one another, and enable us to make the most and the best of each moment of each day we have. ”Be gracious to me, O God, be gracious to me, For I have taken refuge in you; And in the shadow of your wings will I take refuge until this time of trouble has gone by.”  Psalm 57:1

“You Are Never Alone”

Military Support
Prayer for Our Troops

Planning Tools for VFW Members
Medications and Emergency Numbers Form

Planning and Preferences Today for My Needs Tomorrow

VA Form for Advanced Care Directive/Living Will

Completing Your Living Will – Advance Health Care Directive

Living Will Template for VFWPDF  DOC

Estate Planning Checklist

Funeral Planning for the Veteran

What to Do When a Veteran Passes Away

Things to do after the Death of a Loved one

Funeral and Memorial Services
Grave Side VFW Memorial Tribute Template

Memorial Service for Person Who Committed Suicide

Draping of Charter Upon Death of a Comrade

Funeral Detail Suggested Format

A Christian Veteran’s Farewell – To  friends, family and comrades all I bid you farewell.  My tour of earthly duty has reached its end.  A new assignment begins with promises of fulfillment even greater than serving my country.  I am confident that I will pass the entrance exam as my new CO is one I have known most of my life.  He is the King of Kings, the Prince of Peace.

The location is a peaceful place, for the entire human race, where we can meet our comrades of battles past and be together with our departed at last.  I may on occasion march again with the Christian soldiers or hear the trumpets blow but no wars or fighting like below.  Overhead the only air corps are angels flying on silent wings.  So weep not for me.  My retirement is permanent now and the benefits are endless.  There is no pain or suffering here.

My only wish would be that you keep aflame the torch of liberty and keep a peace on earth that our young men and women might not die without knowing the love of a marriage and the blessings of a child’s birth.

So, farewell for now my loved ones, friends, and comrades.  Thank you for the honor you gave me, and your help in keeping our country free.  When your tour is through and taps sound for you, I will be here to welcome you.  Realize each day you have on earth that “God so loved the world, that He gave His only begotten Son, that whoever believes in Him shall not perish, but have eternal life.” John 3:16

Following the Death of a Veteran – Please see bottom of this page

Memorial Certificate

Presidential Memorial Certificate Request Form

Memorial Tribute
One Who Served – Memorial Tribute Flier       One Who Served – Memorial Tribute Price Guide

Frazer Life Journey Candle – The Frazer Life Journey candles are a beautiful and unique way to honor the memory of loved ones.

Veterans with Memory Loss – A Loving Resource – Life in The US MILITARY isa unique picture book designed for Veterans with Memory Loss.  This book is as much for caregivers and family members as it is for the Veteran with Memory Loss.  Check it out at –

Perpetuating the Memory and History of Our Dead
Rev. Peter R. Hook, State Chaplain – [email protected]

At the beginning of every Post and District meeting we recite the purposes of the Veterans of Foreign Wars when we read Section 230102 of the Congressional Charter.  Together we state that the purposes of the corporation are fraternal, patriotic, historical, charitable, and educational.  What follows are seven specific statements which delineate what we set out to do.  It would be a good exercise for the Post and District Officers to take each of the seven statements and honestly evaluate whether or not they are really doing those things, and to explore areas where improvements could be made.

For example, one of our purposes, in that list of seven, is to perpetuate the memory and history of our dead.  There are presently several ways this is being done.

At each of our post meetings we have a moment of silence to remember our departed.  And, each of our posts has a plaque dedicated to our deceased comrades.  Picture albums and news articles of Post events that contain pictures of comrades who were once vibrant members of the Post are a good way to perpetuate their memory.  Keep these out where people can look at them rather than tucked away in some closet or filing cabinet.

In addition, each District is to hold an annual Memorial Service.  According to Section 418 of the Congressional Charter By-Laws and Manual of Procedure Ritual, during the annual District Convention, or some other appropriate time, the District Chaplain shall see that a fitting tribute is paid to our departed comrades.  I hope each District Chaplain is doing this.  Memorial Services are also held each year at the State Convention, at the Eastern States Conference, and at the National Convention.

While these moments of silence, plaques, picture albums and news articles, and memorial services have been our standard ways to perpetuate the memory of our dead, I would like to suggest doing a Living History Video.

At my home Post in Yardley, PA we recently started to do this.  We began with our oldest WWII veteran Danny Quill.  We not only have pictures, but we have him on video talking and singing and sharing some of his life experiences.

If you consider doing this, here are the questions we used to start the interview.

Questions for Living History
Where were you born?
With regards to your Military Service, did you enlist or where you drafted?
What Branch of Service were you in?
Tell us about your initial days following your induction into the military.

  • Where did your initial training take place and what was it like?
  • Tell us about your experience overseas.
  • What unit did you serve with and what were your duties?

When you returned home . . .

Tell us how you became involved with the VFW and what the VFW has meant to you and your family.

I am sure there are other things that we could be doing to better perpetuate the memory and history of our dead.  If you have any ideas, or if Post is doing something in addition to the things listed in this article, please share them with me.

If you encounter a situation and need assistance, please contact me ([email protected] or 267-229-7722).

Make plans now to attend the Annual State Convention June 13-16, 2012 at the Ambassador Conference Center in Erie, PA.  I look forward to seeing you and I am planning to conduct another workshop for Chaplains at the Convention.

 Blessings as you serve.

Following the Death of a Veteran

Within first 24 hours:
Determine whether any of decedent’s property needs to be safeguarded, such as a motor vehicle, vacant house, etc.

Notify immediate family and close friends (including Church, Synagogue, and fraternal organizations)

  1. Arrange care of dependants, if any.
  2. Arrange care for pets, if any.
  3. Locate the decedent’s letter of instruction, if any.
  4. Ensure that proper funeral arrangements have been made.
  5. Prepare and arrange for obituary.
  6. Keep records of all payments for funeral and other expenses.

Within two weeks:
Locate the original will.
Locate other important documents such as codicils, trusts, accounts, investments, etc.
Notify agent under any power of attorney.
Locate important records such a titles, deeds, and life insurance policies.
Make appointment with an attorney to discuss estate.
Notify life insurance company(ies) of the death and request claim(s) forms.
Advise Social Security and other agencies as appropriate.
Investigate Social security benefits.
If mortgage insurance on home exists, notify insurance company of death.
Investigate veteran burial allowance and other benefits.
Determine if any bills must be paid immediately.
Contact creditors who are demanding immediate payment and notify creditor of death
Notify credit card companies of death.
Cancel credit cards on which decedent was the only signer.
Obtain bill for last illness from hospital.
Order at least five (5) death certificates from the funeral home.
Contact Post Office to make any necessary changes in delivery of mail.

Within one month: 
Notify Social Security of the death, and any other organization paying on retirement or paying an annuity upon death.
Gather together and organize financial documents:

  1. Bank accounts owned by decedent.
  2. Mutual funds owned by decedent.
  3. Brokerage accounts owned by decedent.
  4. Certificates of Deposit in decedent’s name.
  5. Stock Certificates registered in decedent’s name.
  6. Any promissory notes under which decedent was entitled to receive payment.
  7. Titles to Motor Vehicles and/or Mobile Homes that are listed in decedent’s name.
  8. Deeds to real property owned by decedent.
  9. Any appraisals of jewelry or other valuable personal property owned by decedent.

Gain access to and inventory any safe deposit box. (See note on next page)
Obtain the account balance on mortgages, loans, checking and savings accounts as of the date of death.
Bring original Will, financial documents, balances, death certificates, and inventory of safe deposit box to meeting with attorney.
Notify CPA, accountant or bookkeeper of the death.

Within two to six months: 
If automobiles are held in joint tenancy, change motor vehicle titles to reflect ownership only by the surviving joint tenant.
If stocks or bonds are held in joint tenancy, contact stockbroker to change records to reflect ownership only by the surviving joint tenant.

Contact Chaplain Hook for a list of Safe Deposit Box Access Procedures. Surviving Spouses are encouraged to contact a PA VFW State Service Officer to apply for Dependency and Indemnity Compensation, Death Pension and Accrued Benefits for Surviving Spouses or Child

Support for Military Families
Below are resources that can help military families navigate and overcome challenges they face:

  1. for Veterans
  2. Career Resources for our Veterans
  3. The HUD-Veterans Affairs Supportive Housing
  4. Moving? Here’s How to Use a Relocation Calculator
  5. Step-by-Step Guide to the VA Loan Process
  6. VA Home Loan Calculator
  7. Moving Companies That Offer Military Discounts
  8. What Documents Are Needed to Sell Your House?
  9. Find Family Services and Resources Near You
  10. Military Buddy Finder (
  11. Veteran Healthcare Resources
  12. The Differences between Medicare, Medicaid & VA Military Benefits
  13. Mental Health Resources for our Veterans Families
  14. Ways to Keep a Relationship Strong During Deployment and Separation
  15. Crucial Components to Highly Effective Deployment Communication
  16. International Phone Plan Options During Overseas Deployment
  17. Military Care Package Ideas: What To Put In A Care Package
  18. Post-Deployment Adjustments Military Couples Face
  19. Creating a Peaceful At-Home Atmosphere Upon Returning Home