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Serving those who serve: the 693rd ISRG’s work of ART

Sometimes even the strongest people need a shoulder to lean on. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

Sometimes even the strongest people need a shoulder to lean on. (U.S. Air Force Graphic by Senior Airman Joshua Magbanua)

RAMSTEIN AIR BASE, Germany -- Sometimes even the strongest people need a shoulder to lean on. This is why the 693d Intelligence, Surveillance, and Reconnaissance Group’s Airmen Resiliency Team (ART) takes their mission very seriously.

The ART serves as a critical lifeline for the well-being of 693d ISRG Airmen. The team consists of a psychologist, mental health technician, medical doctor, two medical technicians, chaplain, and a religious affairs specialist.

“We are embedded in the 693d to help optimize performance and promote resilience. We do this through education, consultation, and prevention services,” said Tech. Sgt. Matthew Madore, 693d ISRG mental health technician. “Being a part of the ART is basically a special duty for my Air Force Specialty Code. It has given me a whole new view of the operational side of the Air Force. “

Chaplain (Capt.) Portmann Werner, 693d ISRG Group Chaplain, shed light on challenges Airmen of the 693d face every day. Although the Airmen are far from the combat zone, the nature of their jobs brings the reality of war close to home.

“These men and women are not in the desert, but what they do every day takes them close to the action,” said Werner. “When they go home from work, they often feel like they cannot discuss anything with anyone. They go from combat to cul-de-sac.”

Werner said the 480 ISRW saw a need and created airmen resiliency teams at six Air Force distributed common ground systems sites.

“Back in 2013 before there was an ART, the intelligence Airmen across the Air Force were reeling from the stress they were experiencing on the job,” Werner said. “The mission was taking a toll on their lives. That’s when the previous wing commander established the ART. We’ve seen remarkable improvement in resilience since then.”

“What can I say—the ART works,” Werner added.

Airmen within the 693d ISRG use ART services to work out personal issues, work performance enhancement, environmental and operational stressors, remote combat stress, physical and spiritual health, or they may simply be having a rough week and need somebody to talk to. The ART also conducts sick call, sustained deliberate unit engagement, and resiliency events.

The ART also participates in the group’s monthly status of airmen resiliency (SOAR) meeting. This meeting is chaired by the 693d group commander and includes squadron commanders, squadron superintendents, first sergeants, and the ART. The meeting helps leadership identify challenges Airmen face when working in high stress environments and integrates support for the 693d’s people.

“The meeting is all about improving the mental, spiritual, and physical health of the Airmen of the 693d. We consult with the command staff to assure every Airmen is cared for,” said Madore.

While serving in the ART presents unique challenges, Madore said he takes pride in his job and learns new things each day.

“I feel especially privileged to serve with this community of people,” he said. “It has allowed me to grow in such a personal level—it’s pretty amazing. I also have a newfound knowledge and respect for (the) impact this community has on the Air Force’s mission. There is honestly no other place I would rather be. My team is full of amazing people who are truly passionate about serving the 693d ISRG.”