They’re coming home. They’ve witnessed death on the battlefield and led soldiers, sailors and Marines to Christ. They’ve baptized converts in water-filled barrels and led worship during rocket attacks. They’ve risked their own lives and sacrificed time away from their families. They are the among the nation’s unsung heroes — military chaplains.

Defense Secretary Leon Panetta has reported that 33,000 troops involved in the Afghan “surge” have been withdrawn, leaving another 68,000 U.S. troops and their chaplains still scheduled to serve in Afghanistan until December 2014.

The last 100,000 troops in Iraq returned home last December. Since 9/11, a total of 2.4 million American military service members — including National Guard and Reservists — have cycled through the Army, Navy, Marines, Air Force and Coast Guard — some more than once.

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