Military chaplaincy is based on the principle that the church must be present wherever its members are.
The clergy have served Finnish soldiers since the 16th century. During the Second World War they played an important role in offering spiritual support and comfort. On the front, priests moved among the soldiers, praying with them, offering worship, administering Holy Communion and encouraging the wounded.
Lutheran and Orthodox chaplains work among the personnel of the defence forces and border guard, reservists and soldiers involved in international peacekeeping duties. They provide worship, catechesis and pastoral care for the military community and their families. Many soldiers are prepared for confirmation during their service.
The Chaplain General leads the church's ministry to the defence forces. Military chaplains are employed by the state. Alongside the military chaplains the church's ministry to the defence forces is undertaken by other clergy, theological students, deacons and youth workers, reserve chaplains and deacons and by clergy deployed with peacekeeping forces.
Military chaplains have a special status among personnel and officers in the organisation of the defence forces. They wear uniform, but wear vestments in the exercise of their priestly role. Instead of military rank chaplains wear their own insignia, which is a cross surrounded by oak leaves.