Taking Care of the Hunter Family: Creech Chaplains keep Airmen resilient

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Kristan Campbell
  • 432nd Wing/432nd Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs
With every airman having a different faith, each has something unique to add to the mission. At Creech Air Force Base, Nevada, each member of the chapel team helps airmen stay resilient. Air Force chaplains and chaplain assistants provide ministry and spiritual guidance, serving as a reminder that spiritual wellness is an important part of staying fit to fight.

As one of the wing's main objectives, taking care of the Creech 'Hunters' and their families, the chapel staff has increased to help accommodate the unique 24/7 365 mission and heavy operations tempo.

"Spiritual fitness is a matter of understanding what you believe, what you value and knowing your principles," said Tech. Sgt. Noah, 432nd Wing and 432nd Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain assistant. "It's something within us that gives us direction and purpose."

Some of the duties of the chaplain corps include religious support operations, counseling services, clergy office work and event planning. In addition, the chaplain corps spends 45 percent of each day administering warrior care in the units at Creech, making them more available to airmen who may be seeking help.

"At Creech we focus much of our time on engaging with airmen," said Chaplain (Maj.) Mark, 432nd Wg and 432nd AEW Chaplain. "From our senior leaders to our most junior enlisted, our goal is to be as proactive and responsive as possible to the community's needs. At Creech, we have an industrial model of ministry which basically means engaging in the units, counseling, and providing for the free exercise of religion."

At an all call in August 2015, Gen. Martin E. Dempsey, retired, Chairman of the Joint Chiefs of Staff, spoke to airmen about quality of life concerns. He also addressed the need for Creech's limited chapel staff to grow, ensuring that counseling would be available to every airman.

As Dempsey predicted, a recent manpower study validated that the Chaplain Corps at Creech was only 50-percent manned.

"With everything that needs to be done, ensuring our team is working according to our priorities as well as taking care of ourselves is so important. A chapel team that is burnt out reduces our ability to provide care," said Mark.

With the push for more help, Creech received an additional chaplain, chaplain's assistant, and will get a second reserve chaplain at the end of January 2016. This will total three new reservists at Creech, which will allow the chapel staff to extend the ministry's hours, making more availability for airmen in need of spiritual advisement.

"Our job is to provide a pillar and a foundation," said Staff Sgt. Sarah, 452nd Air Mobility Wing chaplain assistant "Chaplains advise leaders on spiritual concerns, and we offer care to airmen no matter what they believe."

Additionally, the team is now able to assign a chaplain to every group, including the 799th Air Base Group. This will allow for coverage of all shifts, enabling relationship building within the community.

"We're doubling our manning, helping out the mission by taking care of the Hunter family," said Chaplain (Maj.) Cameron, 47th Flying Training Wing chaplain. "By adding three new members to the team, we will be able to do that even better now."

The reservists will stay at Creech until their positions are filled with active duty personnel permanently assigned to the base. Instead of being available for a normal dayshift schedule, the Airman Ministry Center will be manned from 5 a.m. to 10 p.m. to ensure airmen will have the opportunity to connect with the chaplain whenever it is convenient for them.

"I believe our airmen most need a sense of purpose and significance," said Mark. "Through our counseling and conversations, most topics we address come back to those two ideas. Airmen who have a sense of purpose and significance are both more resilient, and more spiritually fit."

Though the AMC s not always manned, Chaplains are available24/7. Airmen can contact the Command Post at Nellis Air Force Base in case of emergencies, and will be connected to a member of the chaplain corps

"We really are a big family at Creech, and the sole reason the Chaplain Corps is here is to take care of the Creech family," said Mark. "When we drive to work each day, our focus is on how we can be a blessing to the community."