The deployed chaplain

  • Published
  • By Chaplain (Maj) Lawrence Blake
  • 934th Airlift Wing chaplain
Gen. Mark A. Welsh III, Air Force chief of staff, earlier this year challenged the chaplain corps with these words: "Give me more of what you gave me on deployment."  

The meaning of these words was not lost on those chaplains and chaplain assistants who have deployed in support of OEF/OIF in the past 12 years.  In the deployed setting chaplains and chaplain assistants travel in pairs, otherwise known as an RST or Religious Support Team.  They actively engaged airmen in all work locations in a meaningful way.  Visits late at night to ECPs,  the base hospital, fire station and flight line are our way of answering the call to support our airmen and provide spiritual care to our warriors.  We chaplains and chaplains assistants like to say that our mission is to care for the human weapons system.  By our presence we promote resiliency among airmen. 

The deployed model is now to be  implemented at home station.  Our goal at the 934th Airlift Wing Chapel is to see that our two chaplains and two chaplain assistants spend 50 percent of the UTA in meaningful engagement with our units.  It is a high bar to set in as much as it means a whole day out of the office on the weekend.   However, our experience in the AOR indicates this is the right mix.  Our airmen enjoy seeing us in the workplace and are much more willing to approach a chaplain or chaplain assistant  if and when the need arises when they know us and have seen us out and about.

The Chief's challenge is the right one for the Total Force.  It is a challenge we are prepared to meet.  Mission success for the chaplain corps is  "accomplished through religious observances, providing pastoral care, and advising leadership on spiritual, ethical, moral, morale, core values, and religious accommodation issues." (From the Mission Statement of the USAF/HC)