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September Chaplain's Reflections

Portrait of U.S Air Force Maj. Christina Pittman, the 169th Fighter Wing chaplain, along with Avalon, the therapy assistance dog for ministry at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, March 19, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Caycee Watson)

Portrait of U.S Air Force Maj. Christina Pittman, the 169th Fighter Wing chaplain, along with Avalon, the therapy assistance dog for ministry at McEntire Joint National Guard Base, South Carolina Air National Guard, March 19, 2019. (U.S. Air National Guard photo by Master Sgt. Caycee Watson)

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

"A man [or woman] of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother or [sister]." Proverbs 18:24 (NASB) 

In the world today there is much discussion on social distancing in order to protect self and others. As a result, this mindfulness of others helps each person remember how to be a good friend. Service before self is an important core value in the work of the Air Force. This includes serving others and not just putting the job first. The proverb, “A man of many companions may come to ruin, but there is a friend who sticks closer than a brother,” speaks of the value of having just one good friend. 

In the military and civilian community, there is an opportunity this month to reflect on resiliency in relationships in light of the national emphasis on suicide awareness.  There are many stories about suicide loss and intervention. The Air Force and the Swamp Fox families have their own stories. Last year at this time the suicide rate of the USAF was thirty percent higher than in prior years. In response there was a mandate for a resiliency pause to help recover and regroup. McEntire held a resiliency day in December and the Chaplain Corps held a pause and pray at the flag pole each Sunday of drill through the fall. Similar activities took place across the military. There are more events in the planning as well. The statistics are improving yet there is not a complete immunity to the recurrence of suicide. 

What seems to puzzle people the most is the question of not knowing the degree a person is struggling. Often the struggle stems from a broken relationship. When a relationship fails there is hope one can rebuild or build another strong relationship. In the proverb above, a person can have many friends and still succumb to ruin. The value is found in one friend who sticks closer than a brother. Each person can keep striving to strengthen his/her relationships. By sharing his/her story people build connections and ride out the highs and lows together in a person’s life. When one close relationship is lost stick close to each other and prove friendship can be stronger than a brother or sister by blood. 

In closing, please take the words by John Holmes and pass them along to one another through action and teaching, “There is no exercise better for the heart than reaching down and lifting people up.” The truth in this quote is to know resiliency comes by living out one’s values. If you desire more information or support on keeping relationships resilient please contact the SCANG Chaplain Corps office. We have a Strong Bonds event for you and or your family. There are pictures to follow which highlight our events this summer. We look forward to seeing you at one of our retreats in the new fiscal year.

Contact us at 803-647-8265 or command post 803-647-8238 to reach your unit chaplain. You can also always contact the state behavioral health hotline at (800) 681-2558.