News: Kirtland officer supports spiritual needs of deployed personnel as wing chaplain in Southwest Asia
Story by Senior Airman Jenifer Calhoun
SOUTHWEST ASIA -- If there is one thing Maj. David Mansberger, chaplain, loves about his job, it's that he "gets to help people."
His 19-year military career has taken him from the U.S. Navy, to being an Air Force chaplain candidate and serving as an Air Force individual mobilization augmentee, to now serving on active duty. However, to be serving as the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing's lead chaplain in a deployed location now, his job, he says, "is great."
"I help all our military, Department of Defense employees and civilians with spiritual care," said Mansberger, who is deployed from the 377th Air Base Wing at Kirtland Air Force Base, N.M. "I am able to do this through three means -- mentally, physically and spiritually. Mentally, by encouraging them to think about their families and colleagues and to read, watch and learn good things. Mentally, I believe what my wife so aptly says is 'garbage in, garbage out.'
"Chaplains also help mentally through counseling -- being deployed gives people time to strip away their comforts and distractions and causes them to face themselves," the chaplain said. "Often people have avoided dealing with inner issues and that is where I can help them through counseling. Both individuals and couples, the Army deploys couples often to the same location so I have opportunity to work with them as well."
Through helping people physically, Mansberger said he encourages people to exercise, eat and sleep.
"The Air Force has a great physical training program which is getting better and more demanding annually," Mansberger said. "But I have found that when people start taking care of themselves physically, the mental and the spiritual fitness are not far behind."
To help people spiritually, as a chaplain, Mansberger said he has complete confidentiality.
"I should say the counselee has complete confidentiality with me," he said. "I am able to help people through means no one else in the military can. As a chaplain, I provide for the free exercise of religion for everyone which means I can help all faith groups with literature, leaders -- both clergy of their faith and lay ministers, facilities and special events."
Mansberger also points to how the chapel staff provides a myriad of services for a community both at home station or deployed.
"Bible studies, worship, music, prayer, baptisms, discipleship and preaching are all part of the gifts I bring to the spiritual fight of every military member," Mansberger said. "As an officer and as a chaplain I advise leadership on issues of moral, morale and ethical nature. As I visit work places and see trends I am able to help resolve small issues so they do not become larger."
In the deployed environment, the chaplain said what he and his staff offer are even more critical and follows a long tradition of chaplains on the front lines.
"Since America has gone to war, from the start of the Revolutionary War, there have been chaplains serving with deployed troops. In the deployed environment, a chaplain is vital to ensure the spiritual element is not forgotten. It is paramount to bringing hope in often desperate situations to have a chaplain giving words of comfort and peace. I have prayed with wounded, memorialized departed military members, honored the dead, and encourage the living. It is a great mission and honor to serve. So I would say it is vital."
The chaplain said he does not have one particular hometown area but everywhere he has lived he found a home.
"A hometown is hard to say," the chaplain said. "I started in Woodruff, Wis., but currently most of my family is near Raleigh, N.C., in a town called Zebulon and in Athens, Ga. For the most part, the rest of my family is in the Detroit, Mich., area. Regardless, I have been around great people in my family all the time."
And it's because of his family, and for his nation, that he continues to serve in the military.
"I am honored to serve our nation and the Air Force in a deployed setting," Mansberger said. "Deployment is a situation that brings the military members together in an atmosphere where you want to get the mission done safely, defeat the enemy, leave the host nation you are helping better off than when you found it and to return home to your families.
"I am told I had a family member serve in the Revolutionary War in the battle on Kings Mountain in South Carolina," the chaplain said. "He was an American patriot. I have family members who served in the Civil War on both sides, my dad served in World War II, and my father-in-law did three tours in Vietnam. As far as I know, I am the first in our family as far as clergy are concerned, but I believe in the ideals of our Constitution and the values of Judeo-Christianity which I believe undergird our nation. I am very humbled to serve in the Air Force."
Mansberger added that he will continue to be a "wingman" for all who need one.
"In the deployed location, relationships are always immediate because you are serving and have a common interest in defeating the enemies of America," he said. "You start with common ground, living day-to-day and encouraging one another. Truly being a 'wingman' and knowing that others are your 'wingman' builds a true sense of family."
The 380th Air Expeditionary Wing is home to the KC-10 Extender, U-2 Dragonlady E-3 Sentry and RQ-4 Global Hawk aircraft. The wing is comprised of five groups and 18 squadrons and the wing's deployed mission includes air refueling, air battle management, surveillance, and reconnaissance in support of overseas contingency operations in Southwest Asia. The 380th AEW supports operations Iraqi Freedom and Enduring Freedom and the Combined Joint Task Force-Horn of Africa.
This work, Kirtland officer supports spiritual needs of deployed personnel as wing chaplain in Southwest Asia, by MSgt Jenifer Calhoun, identified by DVIDS, is free of known copyright restrictions under U.S. copyright law.