Healing through strong shoulders and open ears

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Jonathan Stefanko
  • 86th Airlift Wing Public Affairs
A thick fog fills the air covering any light brought by the sun. Rain begins to fall and along with it the temperature. Soaked and surrounded by the cold, thoughts of being away from family and friends creep in and any happiness left quickly disappears.

When all hope seems to be lost, you hear a voice behind you asking what is on your mind. As you spill your worries, a sense of relief begins to take over and once finished the figure walks away in search for any others who need a helping hand.

Chaplain assistants dedicate half of their work day to visiting and talking with Airmen around base in hopes to motivate and increase morale as well as be someone to talk to.

"If an Airman is upset then they probably won't be able to perform the job effectively, ultimately hindering the mission," said Staff Sgt. Rudolph Richards, 86th Airlift Wing chaplain assistant. "Our job is to help Airmen through the good and bad, whether they need advice or just someone to talk to. We are there for them."

Along with being a guide for Airmen, chaplain assistants provide crisis intervention, advise leadership and support the chaplain. Chaplain assistants are also vital to first responders to ensure their mission is accomplished effectively.

"There are times when we arrive on scene and we experience something we cannot handle alone," said Staff Sgt. David Lund, 86th Civil Engineer Squadron firefighter. "While we do have each other we can go to it does help to have an outside source willing to listen and have the experience needed to guide us through recovery."

There are many reasons a person is motivated to wear the uniform every day, but for Richards it is the people that inspire him.

"The most satisfying part of my job is the people I get to meet every day," Richards said. "I encourage them and watch them improve not only spiritually but also mentally, and I like to think once our talk is done that Airmen will go back and complete the mission a happier person."

With the holidays coming up, Richards expresses the importance of being part of a "family" while overseas.

"The holidays can be a joyous time of the year, and they can be a depressing time for those away from family and friends," Richards said. "Being in Germany is a huge change, especially if everything you knew is back in the states. While the church community is readily available, the Air Force family is also an option. So no matter what there is always someone there for you."

If in need of the chaplain's services, contact the Northside Chapel at 480-6148 or 06371476148 during duty hours. After duty hours contact command post and they will connect you to the on-call chaplain.