The official insignia is still in committee, but the endorsement is official, which means that the US Army has its very first — and to our knowledge only — US Hindu military chaplain. Her name is Pratima Dharm, she holds the rank of Captain, and she is currently serving at Walter Reed Army Medical Center. The Stars & Stripes article points out that she was previously a Christian chaplain, which means she switched endorsers following a religious conversion. When chaplains no longer represent the tenets of their endorser, they have a short amount of time to find a new endorser before they have to leave the military.
In an official statement, Chief of Chaplains Doug Carver stated: “The Chief of Chaplains is pleased to announce the endorsement of the Army’s first Hindu chaplain by Chinmaya Mission West. This continues our Army’s enduring commitment to the free exercise of religion for our Nation’s sons and daughters, including the hundreds of Hindu soldiers serving in our ranks.”
As those familiar with the chaplaincy know, every chaplain needs the endorsement of a religious organization — one, that is, recognized by the DoD. So far there are some 190 such endorsing agents — you can see the list on the Armed Forces Chaplains Board web site. The vast majority are Christian denominations with also a few Jewish, a couple of Muslim, one Buddhist and one Hindu. According to Chaplain Carleton Birch in the Army Chief of Chaplains office, the Chinmaya Mission West has been a recognized endorsing agent for a number of years but never before put forward a chaplain.