Chaplains enhance resiliency efforts

  • Published
  • By Maj. Amanda Reeves
  • 919th Special Operations Wing

At the 919th Special Operations Wing, the chaplains and their staff go above and beyond to support resiliency efforts for the wing's "Quiet Professionals."

To offer a larger and more comprehensive variety of chaplain's services, 919th SOW chaplains are often available on Duke Field at least one day a week.

Normally constrained by the schedule of the unit training assemblies, the chaplains previously ran UTA Sunday chapel services, but had few opportunities to engage with the wing and offer counseling services and other resiliency programming. Recognizing the need for more, the 919th SOW chaplain team requested, and received, funding for a chaplain to come to the base every Thursday to provide more hands on support to Airmen.

"We're so much more plugged-in to the life of the unit now," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Barry Dickson. "When you know what's going on, you can target better and that makes such a huge difference."

On Thursday mornings, the chaplain on duty makes rounds to visit the units on base, active duty and reserve. From noon to 3 p.m., they offer open chapel and walk-in office hours.

One of the cornerstones of the military chaplain program is 100 percent confidential counseling services. The opportunity for counseling is part of the unit's ongoing resiliency initiatives, and the 919th SOW has seen a huge increase in people taking advantage of this valuable service.

"In the past, I maybe did 10-12 counseling sessions a year," said Chap. Dickson. "Now, I'm doing four or five a month. We're here to help everyone, religious or not. We want to help you talk things out, and help you perhaps find an answer from within."

As one of the wing's major helping agencies and a direct contributor to spiritual fitness—one of the four pillars of comprehensive fitness—the chaplains are tied in closely with Airman and Family Readiness. In fact, A&FR has made significant efforts to help bring the increased chaplain availability into fruition.

"We started doing resiliency-based focus groups in 2017," said Ms. Kelly Ewert, community support coordinator at Eglin Air Force Base, Fla., and former director of 919th SOW A&FR. "Once we heard that members needed more prominent chaplain services at Duke throughout the month, we were able to work with our chaplain and Air Force Reserve Command to obtain additional man days to support."

Headquarters and the 919th SOW have continued to support this effort although that may change at some point in the current fiscally constrained environment.

For more information about the chaplain services and how to reach them, please consult the 919 SOW mobile app under the resiliency icon or contact the chaplains office directly at 850-883-6919.