A meeting was hosted by the 355th Wing Chaplain Corps at Davis-Monthan Air Force Base, Ariz., July 30, 2021, to update senior leaders about best practices in supporting their Airmen and providing them with the resources to seek religious accommodation.
Information for the meeting was acquired from the new Air Force Instruction 52-201, Religious Freedom in the Department of the Air Force.
“Our chapel team is trying to ensure senior leaders understand this AFI so they can utilize it and support our Airmen in the best way possible,” said Chaplain (Maj.) Jason Gunnels, 355th Wing chaplain. “It also allows senior leaders to be more involved with the process of getting a religious accommodation for their Airmen.”
This process ensures a new way to protect the Airmen’s religious needs. This involves the Religious Resolution Team looking through the Airmen’s request and discussing resolutions on religious accommodation at the local-level with the unit commander.
“It’s helpful for a commander to have a whole team dedicated to providing information and options to help Airmen,” said Lt. Col. John Frederick, 563rd Operations Support Squadron commander. “Navigating through the religious accommodation process can be complex and by having this new RRT, we can get resolution on our Airmen’s questions and requests faster with the various agencies all together.”
The RRT works with unit commanders and includes a representative from the Chaplain Corps, Judge Advocate Generals, Public Affairs Office, and sometimes a medical provider, along with a few other helping agencies depending on the case. They are involved with the process to help make a decision based on the Airman’s request and make sure the Airman’s religious needs are being met.
Senior leaders from around DM were briefed on how they can best support their #Airmen by providing them with the resources on how to acquire religious accommodation through the Religious Resolution Team.https://t.co/tRWsLizr3O
— Davis-Monthan Air Force Base (@DMAFB) August 9, 2021
“This is a brand new instruction that did not previously exist and there is a learning curve associated with it,” Gunnels said. “The implementation of the RRT aims to help adjust this learning curve and provide guidance to leaders on how they can help.”
The goal of the RRT is to provide senior leadership with another tool when it comes to helping their Airmen with religious accommodation.
This is just one of the ways the Air Force and D-M are creating a culture of inclusion, and thus developing resilient and capable Airmen ready to perform the rescue and attack mission.