NELLIS AIR FORCE BASE, Nev. — For the past few years Air Force senior leaders have been looking to create and maintain a certain type of Airman.
Their aim was to train and retain Airmen who are resilient and readily deployable to meet any contingency operation tasked by the Department of Defense.
The new approach, called Comprehensive Airman Fitness, focuses on an Airman’s wellness in four areas; physical, social, mental and spiritual.
By providing a revamped physical training regimen and programs dedicated to helping Airmen and their families deal with any unforeseen situations and traumatic events, the Air Force has encouraged Airmen to be resilient and maintain an overall comprehensive fitness in three of the four pillars. However, for the final pillar, spiritual fitness, the Air Force relies heavily on its Chaplain Corps.
In order to maintain Nellis and Creech AFB’s Airmen’s resilience, the chapel’s mission is to provide programs and religious services to Airmen and their families in order to exercise their religious preferences.
“The programs we offer are for all military members and their families,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Michael Rash, 99th Air Base Wing head chaplain. “We encourage all persons to have a good curiosity about spirituality. After all, spiritual care is one of the four pillars under our CAF model.”
According to Air Combat Command’s CAF website, spiritual fitness is about strengthening a set of beliefs, principles or values that sustain a person’s well-being.
“Spiritual resilience is simply the ability to bounce back from a hard or traumatic experience,” said Tech. Sgt. Steve Kim, 99th Air Base Wing Chapel NCO in charge of operations.
Military members and their families are also able to seek counsel from the chaplains at any time regardless of the individual’s religious denomination. This allows service members the opportunity to discuss sensitive information and receive sound advice confidentially.
“We are more than willing to help anyone that seeks it. The people that come to us don’t have to be church attendees,” Rash said. “We have the opportunity to offer the safest place amongst the Department of Defense to talk, mainly because everything that anyone speaks with us is considered completely safe.”
The chapel offers religious services for Protestant and Catholic religions throughout the week.
The Protestant service is offered every Sunday at 8 a.m. with prayer service at 11:15 a.m. For Catholic services, there are two Masses Sunday at 9:45 a.m. and 5 p.m. Confession is also offered Sunday at 4 p.m. Daily Catholic Mass is also celebrated Monday through Thursday from 11:30 a.m. to noon and is open to anyone regardless of faith.
“Because great patriots voluntarily serve our country we are here as a Chaplain Corps to make sure those religious needs are taken care of while those patriots [Airmen] are serving our country,” Rash said.