Air Force

August 15, 2013

Critically Manned: chaplain assistant, care for the caregiver

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Airman 1st Class Josh Slavin
355th Fighter Wing Public Affairs
(U.S. Air Force photo Airman 1st Class Josh Slavin)
Staff Sgt. George Mena and Staff Sgt. Misinimese Liulamaga, 355th Fighter Wing chaplain’s assistants, set up mass Aug. 8. Mena and Liulamaga prepare the chapel each day for mass.

Chaplain assistants provide support processes to ensure the free exercise of religion in the Air Force as well as direct support for chaplain professional ministry.

“We are the eyes and ears for the chaplain,” said Staff Sgt. Misinimese Liulamaga, 355th Fighter Wing chaplain assistant. “We assist the chaplain in making sure that everyone is able to exercise their freedom of religion.”

D-M’s chaplain assistants work behind the scenes to keep the base chapel running smoothly. Some of the daily things they do are work on the chapel’s budget, prepare the chapel for mass and apply religious sensitivities to support the distinctive spiritual needs of the military community.

“Memorials are probably the toughest things we deal with,” Liulamaga said. “It’s always emotional to see the reactions of the family members during the ceremony.”

Since chaplain assistant is not offered to new Airmen, the only way to get into the career field is to cross train. Airmen must first be within their cross-training window, as well as a five level in their current Air Force Specialty Code. Once accepted, Airmen must complete a six-week technical school.

With roughly 300 chaplain assistants in the Air Force, Staff Sgt. George Mena, 355th Fighter Wing chaplain assistant, believes the career field is undermanned because most people simply aren’t aware that the AFSC exists.

“A lot of people get the misconception that you need to be religious and that this job is a special duty assignment,” Mena said.

Both Mena and Liulamaga find this job to be extremely rewarding and a great way to help fellow Airmen and their families.




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