Meet Thomas C. Vail, PhD, Retired Army Chaplain) 4/9/2014 <p>Currently an Assistant Professor in the <a title="Explore Program >" href="/counseling-psychology

Meet Thomas C. Vail, PhD, Retired Army Chaplain

Currently an Assistant Professor in the Pastoral Community Counseling doctoral program, Dr. Vail has been teaching online for over 12 years. However, his professional and academic journey that led him to Argosy University began long before.

His career in education started with a brief, two-year foray as a physical education teacher and coach before he joined the ministry in 1980. Soon thereafter, he enrolled in Harding University to pursue a Master of Theology in Marriage and Family Therapy, which he completed in 1984. Following graduation, he became an active duty member of the US Army.

An Illustrious Military Career

For 29 years, Dr. Vail provided pastoral counseling and religious leadership in the US Army, working at virtually all levels of the military—including tactical, operational and strategic. Much of his career was in Army medicine, serving in several hospitals as a pastoral care specialist, senior pastoral clinician and medical ethicist. He also chaired ethical committees, participated on an Institutional Review Board, and trained military chaplains as trauma and crisis ministry experts.

His titles over the years, to name just a few, included battalion chaplain, hospital chaplain, deputy chaplain at Brooke Army Medical Center, Director of the Department of Pastoral Ministry Training, and combat command chaplain for the North American Aerospace Defense Command and the US Northern Command.

His service took him around the United States and the world. In 1998, he created the 1st Spiritual Health Clinic in the US Army while in Wurzburg, Germany. Among other travels, he deployed to Bosnia, Kosovo with a combat support hospital in support of peacekeeping operations and to Operation Desert Shield/Storm and Operation Iraqi Freedom/Operation Enduring Freedom with combat units supporting combat operations.

Finishing Strong

In his final assignment before retiring in 2011, Dr. Vail worked closely with the Department of Defense and faith-based community organizations to facilitate the delivery of services to disaster areas, helping faith-based organizations gain a recognized voice and place in the National Incident Command System.

While in the Army, Dr. Vail also completed a master’s degree in Strategic Studies from the US Army War College and a PhD in Clinical Psychology from Saybrook University. For his service, he was awarded the Bronze Star, the Defense Superior Service Medal, the Defense Meritorious Service Medal, the Meritorious Service Medal, the Army Commendation Medal, and the Army Achievement Medal.

Just prior to his military retirement, Dr. Vail authored “Religious Engagement and Diplomacy: Training the 21st Century U.S. Military Chaplaincy,” published in the Military Intelligence Professional Bulletin and drawing heavily on his vast experience. 

Life Post-Military

Today, his interests include research methodology, promoting spiritual health, and understanding the evolution of human consciousness. A member of the American Psychological Association, he is also actively exploring the effects of moral injury and gratitude with veterans returning from combat deployments.

In addition to teaching, Dr. Vail spends his time volunteering as a pastoral counselor for a local church, developing and conducting research, occasionally writing curriculum, and simply enjoying his three wonderful grandchildren: Aubrey, Noah and Mason.

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