JOINT BASE PEARL HARBOR-HICKAM, Hawaii --
Senior members of the Chaplain Corps held a council here to discuss the future of the Corps and worked on common trends and issues affecting the warfighter that are seen across the Indo-Asia Pacific region Oct. 10 - 12.
The Air Force Chaplain Corps mission is developing spiritually fit Airmen to fly, fight and win. While at the Pacific Air Forces the Chaplain’s Corps was able to become oriented with the PACAF mission and become familiar with the challenges facing Airmen here.
PACAF, a warfighting Major Command (MAJCOM) that spans more than 50 percent of the globe, was an ideal location to collect sample information on the day-to-day stresses and operations for the Chaplain council.
“That’s why we’ve brought in every MAJCOM because (stressors) will impact every MAJCOM,” said Chief Master Sgt. Robert Jackson Air Force Chaplain career field manager. “It’s not just a PACAF or a PACOM issue to solve. It is a problem across the service and across the DoD and it’s important to analyze how everybody is integrated into it.”
One common stressor is burnout rates for Airmen across the command. Webster’s dictionary defines burnout as, exhaustion of physical or emotion strength or motivation usually as a result of prolonged stress or frustration. Someone experiencing burnout has become so mentally or physically exhausted they cannot perform tasks they’d otherwise be able to accomplish with ease. Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants can utilize the Care for the Caregiver program to combat burn out.
“That program is about realizing there’s a burnout rate,” Jackson said. “There’s a personal price that every Airman and family is paying over here to get the mission done and they’ve got to remember to look at themselves in the mirror and say, ‘Okay is now a time to take a little bit of a pause?’ This can help them remain resilient to take care of other Airmen and families to ensure that they’re also resilient at the end of the day.”
Taking care of Airmen and their families is one of the cornerstones of being a caregiver. Chaplains and Chaplain Assistants see stress spill over into family life from work and vice versa often, especially those involved in the warfighting mission, said Maj. Gen. Dondi Costin, Air Force Chief of Chaplains.
“The Chaplain’s Corps helps Airmen to be strong,” said Col. Steven McCain, PACAF command chaplain. “We focus on ensuring people are spiritually sound and that benefits the warfighter and helps to keep them disciplined and strong.”
After meeting with some of the Airmen within PACAF the Chaplain Corps council was able to better understand the day-to-day requirements and mentality of the warfighters in the command. The council said it was that understanding, which helped them understand some of the underlining issues they may face.
“One of the issue we talked about today is the impact of having an Air Force, which is too small for the mission that we’ve been given, and the impact in terms of operations tempo on family life,” Costin said. “That’s probably the thing from our lane that is the most critical.”
The Chaplains will take the lessons learned from the council to their respective MAJCOMs and organizations and work toward helping Airmen overcome some of the challenges and stressors they may face day-to-day.
“The Chaplains and chaplain’s assistants need to keep doing what they’re doing,” said Jackson. “We are doing (a lot), but we cannot afford to do anything less. The stress that we have on our teams out there isn’t going to lessen and they need to remain focused and they need to stay motivated.”