Busy -- today is the first full day off I've taken in about six weeks. With some of our chaplains on the move and with the staff impacted by illness, I've found myself tackling unexpected responsibilities in addition to the tasks I normally am engaged in. Counseling continues to be a number one item as well as conducting multiple worship services as we are down in staff.
The Vice Wing Commander put me on lead for overseeing the implementation of the reintegration process for our personnel returning from deployment. Our IDS (Integrated Delivery System) composed of representatives of various agencies on the base, came together for a two day serious of briefings and discussions to help our troops who have been away from families for awhile to adjust to coming home. One might think that coming home should be an easy process, but experience has taught us that changes that naturally occur in families when a parent is deployed, can lead to friction upon return. But with a awareness and some skillsets that are taught during the briefing process, families can experience a successful reunion.
My role involved primarily organization and logistics, though I did give some of the briefings on various subjects including the overview briefing which touches on all the various dynamics commonly experienced, the sexual assault briefing one week since I am also the chapel rep to the SARC (Sexual Assault Response Coordinator), and the chapel/spiritual wellness briefing. Beyond briefing, my role was to make sure our UDM (Unit deployment managers) knew to have their returning troops there, and to make sure the various agencies had their briefers present and ready to go. I also arranged for guest speakers and secured locations. I had a lot of help, from the enlisted troops at the chapel setting up refreshments and audio visual equipment (we have a great team!) to working with representatives from Family Support and the Logistical Readiness Squadron. It is a big process, but team work makes it happen.
I've been flying medivacs several times in the past week. I feel truly privileged to serve in this capacity Picture on the left is from my last flight. Here we are taking off from McDill AFB in Florida for the return leg home.
With our chapel leadership either having transferred, getting ready to move, or recovering from an illness, I've had to step up and make sure some things were happening from scheduling to many other things.
One big event that occured last weekend was the Joint Service Open House, a huge multi-service airshow with plenty of static displays. It was outstanding. The weather was great and the show was great. I worked most of the Friday, Saturday, and Sunday on duty for the DCG (Disaster Control Group) ready to respond should there have been an accident of some kind. One of the best parts of being out on the flightline for three days was getting to know the people who fly the vintage aircraft in to the airshows. Many of them have some amazing war stories to tell. Also it was an outstanding opportunity to visit with our military and civilian personnel, as almost the entire military staff was working sometime this weekend. The picture to the left is from my favorite part of the show, the Heritage Flight including an F-16; F-15, F-4, and a Mustang fighter.
I have to say though, as much as I have enjoyed the high tempo and the additional responsiblity, I'm glad to see our interim wing chaplain come in. With him here and another chaplain returning from deployment and with replacements due in soon, my duties will return to normal. Though I'm starting to gear up to be ready to go deploy myself. In a couple of weeks I'll be out for specialized training to help me be ready for deployment to a combat zone. I've already been informed as to when and where I'm going, but I can't reveal that information as it is classified. But I can say my training will come in handy.
I truly am loving my job. I especially enjoy when I'm able to work face to face with our people and see the difference it makes in their lives. It is very rewarding to watch a couple begin to resolve their problems and decide to stay together, or watch a young airman begin to perform at the job. I've heard rumors cutbacks may be in store for the chaplain service, but I hope as they examine and make decisions they factor in the significant face to face time we have with the troops, and because they trust what we bring to the table, the impact we are able to make on their lives and hence on accomplishing the mission. I've got the best job in the Air Force. I get to work with everyone from the newest airman to the Wing leadership. I can contribute to joint efforts as part of a wider team and also have individual impact on the various servicemembers who I encounter each day either through formal appointments or just in conversation. And we make a difference. I've worked with people thinking about busting up their marriages, thinking about suicide, frustrated with supervision, fighting depression, and of course I have people come with their spiritual questions and searching for meaning as well. It's a great job and a great joy to be able to help our Air Force team stay spiritually fit to fight.
Below are some more pictures from the airshow. Hope you enjoy!