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August Chaplain's Reflections

1st Lt. Kirby Whitley, a chaplain assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing

U.S. Air Force 1st Lt. Kirby Whitley, a chaplain assigned to the 169th Fighter Wing, at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, S.C., May 3, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Staff Sgt. Megan Floyd)

MCENTIRE JOINT NATIONAL GUARD BASE, S.C. --

Hello fellow Swamp Foxes!  As I return to McEntire JNGB from basic chaplain school, I would like to highlight the mission of the chaplain corps and its most valued asset, YOU! The United States Air Force Chaplain Corps is standing on the precipice of a great task established by Chaplain (Maj. Gen.) Steven Schaick, Air Force Chief of Chaplains. During this time in our world’s current events, there is no greater opportunity than now to refocus the chaplain corps primary mission: providing spiritual care to Airmen and advising leadership.

During a livestream event in January 2019, Chaplain Schaick launched HC|Next, which aims to refocus ministry principles using tactics from previous generations where greatness was formed. This new program does not aim to label the chaplain corps as broken but focuses on the the importance of making a difference in Airmen’s lives. As shepherds of the flock, chaplains must understand our Airmen’s expectations, desires, and passions. 

First, our Airmen deserve better. Secondly, inspiring readiness is the ultimate goal of improving the chaplaincy. Our adversaries are standing at the gate. China, Iran, Russia are poised to challenge the United States at any given moment. Having Airmen who are mentally, physically, and most importantly spiritually fit is undoubtedly the most important characteristic of being an Airman today.

One of the first moves of improving relationships between the chaplaincy and Airmen is being “squadron focused.”  In the beginning of your Air Force training, the central focus revolves around squadrons and this continues throughout our careers. Air Force Chief of Staff, Gen. David Goldfein describes squadrons as the basic level of operations and its “beating heart.” The effectiveness of a chaplain will be revealed when our investment is centered on being available and visible within the back shops. The SCANG Chaplain Corps focuses on making ourselves visible and we will continue to improve this practice moving forward into fiscal year 2021.  Our goal is to create a mindset of “that’s my chaplain” and “I feel comfortable speaking to my religious affairs Airman.”

In our country today, in some quarters there exists a lack of respect for diversity, laws, race, and religion.  The chaplain corps must not fold on these topics and must be firmly grounded on the principle of respect. Providing religious accommodations and the access to free expression of religious beliefs must be upheld without disrespecting thought, belief, or practice.  As a chaplain, I will stand alongside my fellow chaplain corps Airmen as we refocus the mission of being commander driven, relationship centered, and squadron focused. 

This article was written to illustrate your importance to the chaplain corps while highlighting our mission of being available.  As a member of the SCANG Chaplain Corps, it is my honor to serve alongside you providing the respect and accommodations you deserve. 

If you would like more information or support on spiritual strength or religious provisions, please call the SCANG Chaplain Corps office at 803-647-8265.