Currently, ELCA pastors serve in three federal chaplaincies – military, VA hospital, and federal correctional institutions. The numbers lean heavily toward military chaplains. We have about 150 military chaplains (counting all services, all components and our Civil Air Patrol and Coast Guard Auxiliary chaplains). We have about 30 VA hospital chaplains (full- and part-time). And with a recent retirement, we have 2 Bureau of Prison chaplains.
Prison ministry attracts the fewest number of applicants, perhaps because it is least known. Also, the federal Bureau of Prisons has very high standards and a narrow age requirement, even tighter than military chaplaincy. Here is a recent public radio interview with a Lutheran pastor leading a state-based ministry in Maryland: http://wypr.org/topic/living-questions#stream/0. Pastor Gerry Rickel is pastor of St Dysmas, a Lutheran, synodically authorized worshipping community in multiple facilities of the Maryland State Department of Corrections.
Like all our chaplaincy ministries, these efforts embody our response to Matthew 25. In chaplaincy, we discover that Jesus is in our midst among our neighbors. Thank you for supporting these ministries in your respective areas.