News: Building stronger relationships
Story by Senior Airman Jared Trimarchi
AL UDEID AIR BASE, Qatar -- Relationships are part of life and every relationship goes through rough patches at one point.
The Air Force understands relationships can affect more than the individuals involved. The importance of building stronger relationships is highlighted through the Air Force's Comprehensive Airman Fitness program which encompasses resiliency through life's difficulties by strengthening an Airman's mental, social, spiritual and physical pillars.
The 379th Air Expeditionary Wing Chapel created Worship With Warriors, a program to build stronger relationships by combining social and spiritual fitness which provides real-time live counseling between Airmen deployed to Al Udeid Air Base, Qatar and their loved ones back home.
"Any relationship can use a little help from counseling," said Chap. (Maj.) James Buckman, 379th AEW deputy chaplain who is deployed from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakhurst, N.J. and hails from a St. Louis, Mo. "Counseling doesn't have to be reactive and relationships can be greatly benefited from proactive counseling. Relationships affect Airmen at home and at work. Work performance, morale and team work are greatly affected by relationships."
Chaplain Buckman compared a strong relationship to a vehicle engine. Engines need oil changes and tune ups on a regular basis, he added.
"If you neglect an engine and put off the necessary maintenance, one day you're going to be driving and the engine is going to blow," Buckman said. "Like new oil, time is the biggest investment you can give in a relationship."
The program which was started mid-January, gives Chaplains an opportunity to hear both sides of the story in real time.
"We are using technology to reduce the many miles which divide service members from their loved ones," Buckman said. "Before this program, when a marriage was going through a hardship we would usually hear one side of the story. Now we can listen to both parties and help counsel both individuals. We are not only the service member's chaplain, we are the chaplain of the family member as well."
The program is free of charge and only requires the family member to have internet access and a web camera. All one needs to do is set up an appointment, Buckman said. With Valentine's Day coming up, this is a great opportunity to show loved ones how important they are, he explained.
The program has been used by several couples so far and has made an impact on both parties, Buckman said. As a chaplain he must adhere to confidentiality but said, a marriage has been helped through the program.
In the future the program will have live study prayers which a family member back home can participate in.
"This program is being used to help service members and their loved ones feel closer together," Buckman said. "Stronger relationships not only boost morale, they also help foster a sense of purpose and belonging. Deployments can sometimes create a mindset of isolation for both the service members and their family members back home. We are here to remind them that deployments are a great opportunity to build a stronger relationship through spending time with one another and strengthening spiritual fitness together."