MINOT AIR FORCE BASE, N.D. --
While resiliency functions as an umbrella for military members, there are several aspects that go into developing a truly resilient individual.
One of the core pillars of Airmen resiliency is spiritual fitness.
Chaplain Col. Randall Kitchens, Air Force Global Strike Command chaplain, and his religious affairs functional manager visited Minot Air Force Base, North Dakota, from Feb. 25 to March 1, to check on Team Minot Airmen and their religious support teams.
“We have a responsibility to organize, train and equip all religious support teams,” said Kitchens. “To do that, we advocate and work with leadership to ensure they have the manpower, resources, and readiness requirements for the Air Force.”
During his visit, Kitchens toured both 5th Bomb Wing and 91st Missile Wing, while interacting with Team Minot Airmen.
“It’s always exciting for me to be able to talk with the great Airmen that serve in our Air Force, especially at Minot,” said Kitchens.
He also worked an hour and a half at the McAdoo Fitness Center’s Airman Ministry Juice Bar.
“I came out here on a blusteringly cold morning, below zero temperatures, 30 mile-per-hour winds,” began Kitchens. “So to find Airmen here, early in the morning, [walking into the gym] with a smile, motivated… That just reblues me and reminds me of the importance of what we do.”
The juice bar began as an innovative idea, put together by the Chapel Ministries that allows them to serve Airmen at a public venue. They give away free coffee, hot chocolate and athletic drink slushies, along with spiritual literature.
“I think this goes back to being able to meet individuals right where they are,” said Senior Master Sgt. Tamica Hales, AFGSC religious affairs functional manager. “We’ll meet you at the gym, at Task Force True North in your squadron, at the Chapel… Wherever you are, that’s exactly where we want to meet you.”
There are many reasons why the Chapel Ministries’ juice bar works well, but one big reason is the ability to listen to Airmen’s stories.
“Meeting them is a great start, but we want to listen to their story and walk with them through their challenges,” said Kitchens. “Sometimes, all you need is someone to hear your story. It’s best to empathize in order to understand what they’re going through and share that journey [together].”
While their visit was centered on the Airmen, the religious support team also wanted to check on other teams. TFTN is an initiative that strives to promote Airmen resiliency by providing mental health, embedded into four groups: the 5th Mission Support Group, 5th Maintenance Group, 91st Security Forces Group and 91st Maintenance Group.
“All we’ve heard are glowing standing results of how this is working,” said Hales. “We got to hear their stories and the great successes of being embedded. They built relationships with the Airmen and helped them through difficult times, so to hear how the team is totally working together, that’s a huge success story.”
With all assets that Team Minot Airmen are provided, Kitchens and Hales believe Minot AFB to be a success in regards to spiritual fitness.
“It is a challenge to be resilient, but there’s quite a few resilient Airmen here, regardless of the harsh weather and location,” said Hales. “Even with people saying they don’t have much to do, they’ve been very creative to keep their mind positive and on the mission. This is why I love the saying ‘only the best come north.’”