Air Force Chapel Seeks to Integrate with Squadrons
The chapel leadership at Offutt Air Force Base is instituting a program to better integrate itself with the military units it serves. Reacting largely to the need for military readiness and suicide prevention, the effort by Chaplain (Maj) Kevin Humphrey includes a focus on personal responsibility:
“I looked deeply and believed that how we have traditionally viewed resiliency was wrong,” Humphrey said. “We have removed personal responsibility…I think we need to do a better job of showing our people how they are the stake holders and change really starts with them.”
The effort will designate hand-picked “Care Teams” in each squadron, and it will also institute faith-based studies within the units:
Step two is enacting quarterly faith-based studies in the squadrons or groups to create faith communities and more effective contentment and job satisfaction. Initially lead by chaplains, the hope is to empower volunteers to also take a leadership role.
“We will pay for the material for an individual if they want to lead a faith based study regardless of the faith,” Humphrey said. “The goal is for Care Teams and faith communities to create a shift in the atmosphere of our squadrons.”
That’s both notable and admirable, as chapel offices aren’t always as proactive as to help initiate faith-based studies in the units. This will enable, for example, a Bible study to occur within a fighter squadron, and it will even provide materials for the group to use.
This is also notable in the face of recent pressures to push faith to the side or confine it to the four walls of the chapel. The program is a proactive statement that Airmen can “confidently practice [their] own beliefs,” as AFI 1-1 says, even within the workplace, even during the duty day, and even in uniform.
The Offutt chaplaincy appears to be taking great steps to support the ability of their Airmen to practice their faiths.
It shouldn’t seem like such a bold statement, but given the way society seems to go sometimes, it is a marked changed from the apparent cultural direction.
And that is worthy of recognition.