Armed Forces News

Second Lt. Saleha Jabeen, chaplain candidate, and Master Sgt. Alexander James, recruiter, sign recruitment paperwork after Jabeen’s commissioning ceremony Dec. 18, 2019, at the Catholic Theological Union in Chicago. (U.S. Air Force photo by Tech. Sgt. Armando A. Schwier-Morales)

Air Force 2nd Lt. Saleha Jabeen became the service’s – and the Defense Department’s – first female Muslim chaplain during a Dec. 18 ceremony in Chicago. To Jabeen, who emigrated to the U.S. with her family 14 years ago, her path to history was somewhat incongruous.

She told Armed Forces News Service that as a child, she believed her professional life would be centered somewhere in industry or business.


Her career path changed when she joined the Army and served in the medical corps. She befriended an officer, 1st Lt. Jamal Bey, who helped her make the change.

Jabeen has received endorsement from the Islamic Society of North America, and will complete her training soon. At that point, she will be assigned to her first duty station.

“Don’t let anyone or anything stop you and when they try – be generous, be resilient, and don’t quit,” Jabeen said, in remarks during the ceremony.