News: JB MDL service member provides spiritual support downrange
Story by 1st Lt. Alexis McGee
BAGRAM AIR FORCE BASE, Afghanistan - Hundreds of service members from Joint Base McGuire-Dix-Lakehurst are deployed to multiple locations around the world.
Master Sgt. Jeremy Brittain, 87th Air Base Wing superintendent of chapel operations, is one of those hundreds deployed from JB MDL supporting global operations.
Brittain deployed to Bagram Air Field, Afghanistan, from JB MDL Nov. 17, 2013, and in his first month on the ground has already adopted practices he hopes to bring back to JB MDL.
“A huge part of what we do here is visit service members around the base,” said Brittain, native of Morganton, N.C. “Visiting service members gives us the opportunity to stop by their jobsites, see how they’re doing and open the doors of communication so they feel comfortable coming to us with any concerns or issues they have.”
Brittain and 455th Air Expeditionary Wing Chaplain, Lt. Col. Bill Johnson, conduct daily visits to service members around base. Together the duo comprises one of the five religious support teams at Bagram that provide spiritual support to deployed service members.
“I think it is beneficial that I conduct the visits with the Chaplain Johnson,” said Brittain. “Some enlisted service members feel like they can relate well to me because I’m enlisted as well, which helps us meet our intent of opening communication and letting service members know the services we provide.”
Johnson echoed Brittain’s sentiment about the visits emphasizing the importance of RSTs in gauging resilience among the deployed service members.
“We do the visits both because Air Force Instruction mandates it and because we are the eyes and ears for the leadership when it comes to service member morale,” said Johnson, deployed from the 5th Bomb Wing at Minot Air Force Base, N.D. “If we don’t get out of our office and visit service members, personally, I feel like we’re not doing our jobs.”
Although Brittain is filling the same position at Bagram as he does at JB MDL, he notices differences in operations in deployed environments.
“In some ways I feel the stress over here is completely different,” he said. “There are less administrative requirements since we are so focused on our day-to-day operations that support the mission which eliminates a lot of work stress. At home you have to worry about your commute time, laundry and various other daily tasks, but here I have a five-minute walk as my commute and all my laundry is sent out.”
Brittan said that he hopes his deployment experience will help him relate better to home-station service members who are being deployed to hostile environments. Though this is his fourth deployment, it’s his first to a combat zone, which he feels will help him provide better support.
“Once I return home I’ll be able to communicate better with deploying service members,” he said. “Deploying service members can come to me when I return to talk about how they’re feeling and since I have the experience, I can help them with any questions or concerns they may have.”
Brittain said that while his time over here is going fast, he is excited to head home to JB MDL in the spring. He will reach his 20-year mark Jan. 12, 2013, and will retire from active duty in November.
“I’m very excited to get back home and share my experiences with the chapel staff at JB MDL,” said Brittain. “Even though I’m excited to get back and prepare for my retirement, I’m focusing on my current mission here, which is to help our deployed service members and offer a venue for them to receive the support they deserve.”