Helping Hands: Event brings base, local clergy together

  • Published
  • By Jenny Gordon
  • Robins Public Affairs
It's about building a collaborative and ongoing relationship between Robins and local clergy members and faith-based organizations in the community, and providing spiritual care to civilian Airmen who work and live among us.

That was the intent of the Feb. 26 Robins Air Force Base Clergy Day Summit, which drew a total of 90 local clergy members, military and community representatives.

"Too many people are without hope, too many people are struggling with significant stressors that have led to destructive life choices, and worse," said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Jonathan Wade, installation chaplain, to the audience at the Museum of Aviation. 

He shared the Air Force's mandated Comprehensive Airmen Fitness program, which includes spiritual, mental, physical and social pillars, each of which is essential to the resiliency of Airmen.

"The Air Force culture is centered on the idea that a wingman will always safeguard his or her lead, and it adheres to the belief that a lead never lets his or her wingman stray into danger," he said. "All Airmen are encouraged to be good wingmen, which means taking care of fellow Airmen and taking action when signs of trouble are observed." 

Last week's gathering centered on the spiritual piece of CAF, which due to statutory limitations and manpower in Air Force Materiel Command, was found lacking within the civilian Airmen population. Civilians make up about 70 percent of AFMC's work force. 

The Robins event, a pilot program, was used as a test bed for creating and furthering relationships between the base and local clergy and faith-based organizations, so that when civilians are in need of referrals, those needs are met within the community.

"We want to have a healthy civilian population that is every bit as involved in the mission," said Wade. "This is the beginning of a long-term relationship ... to build a robust network with off-base clergy from all faiths. We want to ensure our leaders off base become more aware of the spiritual needs of our civilians."              

Chaplain (Col.) Jimmy Browning, Air Force Materiel Command chaplain, provided an abbreviated definition of spiritual fitness, relating it to those civilian Airmen who work on military aircraft. 

Do they have the spiritual bounce in their lives that is essential to their well-being when life gets difficult? Can they persevere? 

"Being physically, socially, emotionally and spiritually strong is an important element of who we are - a profession of arms," he said. "When you understand that, you know what this profession of wearing the uniform is ... that there are stressors and strains." 

"Spiritual fitness is important, not only to the individual, but to the mission," he said.