by Airman 1st Class Kathleen D. Bryant
23d Wing Public Affairs
6/25/2015 - MOODY AIR FORCE BASE, Ga. -- They
don't work in hospitals, wear lab coats or fix broken bones but they
can heal hidden wounds. Some people may refer to them as pastors, while
others consider them counselors. But these spiritual doctors are known
to the military as chaplains.
Chaplains work 24/7 to help Team Moody members cope in life through
counseling and carry the responsibility of their welfare, morale and
"We are truly committed to taking care of our people," said U.S. Air
Force Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Kim Bowen, 23d Wing chaplain. "Sometimes the
awareness that people have or don't have [about counseling] makes all
the difference in the world as to what we offer. We understand that not
everybody's religious. The Air Force understands that, but it also
understands that we are all, at least in part, spiritual."
Although church is their workplace, much of what chaplains do fall outside the realm of religion.
"We hope that people know we are a counseling resource here as well,"
said Bowen. "Principally because of the privileged communication that we
offer. No other agency has that level of confidentiality."
Privileged communication, under Military Rules of Evidence 503, means
that anything you speak to a chaplain or chaplain assistant about in a
counseling setting is confidential.
"We can't release that information to anyone without written permission
from the member," said Master Sgt. John Davis, 23d Wing chaplain
assistant. "It's a really good service we have, because there may be
someone experiencing difficulties at home or in the workplace. A lot of
times they just need to vent without fear of retribution or being
judged. That privilege, being able to share that with us so we can help
them through that difficult time, is a really good thing. It's make them
comfortable and more willing to share."
Chaplains counsel during the day, but also work around the clock in order to help Airmen connect with their spirituality.
"We deal with all sorts of elements of life, from
cradle-to-grave--literally," said Bowen. "Whether someone's celebrating
something or someone has received some bad news, we are available all
the time. Sometimes that comes in the middle of the night. We always
have a chaplain on call. You can reach them by calling the command post.
[They have] a list of our schedule."
Chaplains rotate being on call on a weekly basis and during the day work side-by-side with their assistants.
"Chaplain assistants are a vital part of the Chaplain Corps," said
Bowen. "They manage the chapel when it comes to the administrative,
logistical and financial side of how things are run."
Chaplains and chaplain assistants work together as a unit, also known as
a Religious Support Team to accommodate the needs of the base.
"We operate on the group-level in RSTs," said Bowen. "What we do [on a
daily basis] depends on the needs of each unit. For example, if a
traumatic event happens[such as death] in a unit we work with the
leadership to come up with a response plan, help advise the unit and
participate in the memorial service."
Each RST finds the time to visit their assigned group on base, such as
the Medical Group, the Mission Support Group, the Maintenance Group and
the Fighter and Rescue Group.
"Years ago, when I came in as young Airman Basic Bowen, if you wanted to
find a chaplain you'd go to the chapel," said Bowen. "Well [since then]
we've realized we have to get outside the chapel and be with the
people. We are a lot more mobile so we can build relationships with
people. We are only as affective as those relationships of trust that
A chaplain's mobility goes beyond their home base and extends into all
parts of the world, even deployed locations, in order to support Airmen
"It's an interesting thing what happens when people get away from the
comforts of home," said Bowen. "They start to really think about the
purpose and the meaning of life. They start evaluating their lives and
relationships back home and that can stir up some things. So there is an
increase in [the need for] counseling that we do in overseas
Service members may seek out chaplains frequently in a deployed
environment, but chaplains have been one of the military's resources for
over two centuries.