JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --
At select bases across the U.S. Air Force, Task Force True North is embedding medical, mental health, and chaplain personnel directly into high stress units.
Although JBLE was not selected as one of the pilot installations for TFTN, the 633rd Air Base Wing chaplain corps has begun to embed the chaplain corps into squadrons across base.
“About six months ago, the Air Combat Command chaplain challenged the chapel corps by saying, ‘don’t wait on a good idea, go ahead and effectively embed your chaplains now,’” said U.S. Air Force Chaplain (Maj.) Zachary Nash, 633rd ABW deputy wing chaplain.
The 633rd ABW chaplain corps learned how the chapel team at Mountain Home Air Force Base, Idaho took the initiative and decided to use the same structure. They arranged their manning so that the company grade officer chaplains are effectively embedded into units and their flag general officer chaplains take on the duties of chapel based ministries.
The goal for this is simple: create more resilient Airmen by bringing resources directly to them.
The TFTN program began early this year with the goal to promote Airmen resiliency by offering increased support within individual units.
“In addition to routine and proactive spiritual care, the embedded chaplain offers an immediate tactical response for commanders during critical leadership moments,” said Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Brian McCormack, 633rd ABW chaplain.
In July, the chaplain corps Airmen handed the keys to chapel ministry over to their bosses, allowing them to concentrate completely on squadron focused warrior care.
Chaplain (Lt. Col.) Dan Thompson oversees the 633rd Medical Group hospital chapel and co-pastors the community service at Bethel Manor. Chaplain (Capt.) Genesis Guerrero has been embedded into all supported flight line units and Chaplain (Capt.) Alex Lu is embedded into the supporting units on base.
“It’s been great,” said Lu. “I loved preaching on Sundays and caring for the parish, but we found a better way to care for Airmen. Now both the parish and the units get a better standard of care.”
According to Nash, the response has been very positive. Counseling cases have increased in the units and chapel attendance continues to be healthy and robust. In the near future, the chapel team plans to embed Religious Affairs Airmen into units, offering even more resources for Airmen. TFTN is collecting data over the next three years for an empirical study to determine if these fully embedded teams make units more resilient.