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    Chaplains promote spiritual resilience at Altus AFB

    Chaplains promote spiritual resilience at Altus AFB

    Photo By Senior Airman Megan Myhre | U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Emmanuel Enoh, 97th Air Mobility Wing chaplain, speaks with an...... read more read more

    ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, OK, UNITED STATES

    05.12.2015

    Story by Airman 1st Class Megan Myhre 

    97th Air Mobility Wing Public Affairs

    ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, Okla. – Military members serve in defense of the U.S. and make up roughly one percent of the population. As voluntary defenders of the nation, the potential stressors are virtually endless. Resilience is the term used to describe the ability an Airman has to handle any situation thrown at them, or to bounce back from hardship.

    With such a great responsibility resting on their shoulders, it’s important that Airmen learn how to be resilient in all aspects of their life. Spirituality is one of the four pillars that make up Comprehensive Airman Fitness and, should an Airman be struggling with that, chaplains are available to provide assistance.

    “Spirituality is the realization that I am part of something other than myself. My existence is larger than what I see, touch, smell and feel, thus I continuously seek and search for meaning in life,” said U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Emmanuael Enoh, 97th Air Mobility Wing chaplain. “Religion is one expression of spirituality; however, another person can choose to express his or her spirituality another way, such as going deep-sea diving and being one with the beauty of nature.”

    To be spiritually resilient does not necessarily mean to be religious. While it may seem confusing, spiritual strength can be built by non-religious methods as well. Chaplains are also trained to be pluralistic, which means they are able to support any faith group. No matter the religious affiliation of an Airman, a chaplain can help.

    “It is a common misconception,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Wade S. Matuska, who is also a chaplain at Altus AFB. “When people see a chaplain they instantly expect they’re going to be preached at.”

    Chaplains are endorsed by religious organizations and provide religious accommodations for Airmen on base, and if they cannot provide specific religious accommodations, they can assist Airmen in finding other certified and trained religious leaders in the area.

    “Chaplains help protect the religious freedoms of Airmen by advising leadership on the Air Force Instructions and other documents that protect the religious freedom of Airmen, and by advising all Airmen about their constitutional right to worship or not to worship,” said Enoh.

    To help inspire morale on Altus Air Force Base, the chapel hosts church services on Sundays, an annual Fall Festival and Spring Fling, single airmen retreats, leadership retreats, briefings, and other services and events.

    “The retreats and events we put on are the chapel’s way of fulfilling our mission of service to all Airmen and families,” said Enoh. “The retreat is a time to get away from the day-to-day to recharge.”

    In order to build rapport and maintain a presence with the Airmen on base, chaplains visit various workplaces, depending on which squadron or squadrons they are assigned to. They also offer one-on-one counseling, maintain a presence at base and squadron events, and attend newcomer and deployment briefings.

    The services provided by the chapel are available for use by all Airmen, families, contractors and other base personnel.

    “I have visited a chaplain for assistance,” said U.S. Air Force Tech. Sgt. Melissa Mantegna. “It was after my boss had passed away. It helped me deal with the workplace a bit better, because I still had to work in the same office.”

    Mantegna said talking with the chaplain helped her through the difficult ordeal. Even though she knew what she had to do, the chaplain was there to listen to her, which was what she had needed at the time.

    “I don’t think we put enough importance on the spiritual side of resilience,” said Mantegna. “People tend to base spiritual resilience on religion and it’s so much more than that. There are so many ways people can deal with what they’re going through.”

    Mantegna went on the most recent retreat hosted by the chapel and said she learned a lot from the experience, and highly recommends other noncommissioned officers and senior NCOs attend if they have the opportunity.

    “I would like to see this done more often, perhaps not in full retreat, but maybe something locally for the leadership,” she said. “It is very beneficial, especially for people in leadership positions. They need to be able to really understand their folks and what they’re going through.”

    Mantegna believes there would be chaos without strong spiritual resilience throughout the Air Force.

    “We’d be flying off the handle without it. We’re taught to be strong through hard times, and I can be physically strong all day, but mentally or spiritually I could crash,” she said. “In the military, we can sometimes find ourselves in very difficult positions. If they don’t find a way to cope, they could turn to drugs or alcohol. Spiritual resiliency, I think, helps prevent that.”

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    NEWS INFO

    Date Taken: 05.12.2015
    Date Posted: 05.12.2015 09:15
    Story ID: 163012
    Location: ALTUS AIR FORCE BASE, OK, US 

    Web Views: 114
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    Chaplains promote spiritual resilience at Altus AFB