Thursday, February 21, 2013

TOP STORY>>Keeping the faith

Base chaplains strengthen Airmen’s spiritual pillar

By Senior Airman Rusty Frank
19th Airlift Public Affairs

When someone hears the word chaplain most often what they think about is preaching, praying and counseling. What some people may not know is there’s more to an Air Force Chaplain than the pulpit on Sundays. The chaplain corps supports Airmen at Little Rock Air Force Base in several ways including providing council, dinner every Friday night at the Cross Roads Café and going out to the different units on base and visiting with Airmen.

Some of the services military chaplains provide are different from their civilian counterparts. Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Francis Lowe, 19th Airlift Wing wing chaplain, said chaplains protect the rights of the first amendment and the exercise of free religion through a couple different ways.

One way chaplains protect those rights are by helping out Airmen in different squadrons on base with any religious issues, and providing different ways for Airmen to learn more about their religion.

“We answer any religious accommodation issues that come up from the squadrons and the work place,” said Lowe. “We also provide worship and education opportunities at the chapel.”

Another way they help out the Airmen is by providing completely confidential counseling. This service is important because not only can Airmen talk to chaplains about anything, first sergeants and commanders can also talk to them and get advice on morale issues or on how to handle a situation with an Airman said Chaplain (Capt.) William Martin, a 19th Airlift Wing chaplain.

Chaplains do what regular ministers can’t do. They can to go an Airman’s place of work and visit with them one on one.

“One of the big things we do that we don’t do in civilian life is visit the work place,” said Lowe who has been a catholic priest for more than 30 years. “When I worked in civilian life I didn’t have that freedom, I couldn’t just walk into a clinic or a jail. We can do that because we are part of the Air Force Family.”

There is more to the chaplain’s mission at LRAFB other than confidential counseling and protecting Airmen’s rights to exercise free religion. Lowe said the main thing they provide is spiritual fitness to Airmen.

“Our mission is to prepare our war fighters to do a good job and meet their spiritual needs,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Randall Jamieson, 19th Airlift Wing deputy wing chaplain.

Chaplains cater to the spiritual needs of single Airmen as well as married through different events.

“We do lots of marriage conferences. We also do singles retreat,” said Martin.

The Cross Roads Café along with services such as the single Airman retreats are avenues chaplains use to reach single Airmen. At the Café, every Friday night the chaplain’s host a dinner for the single Airman, said Martin. The Café is a place where Airmen can connect with each other.

The main thing to remember with the chaplains on base and the services they provide through the chapel is they are here for the Airmen.

“Our desire is to serve our Airmen,” said Martin.

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