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Spiritual healing in our darkest hour

JOINT BASE LANGLEY-EUSTIS, Va. --

Members of the 633rd Air Base Wing Chaplain Team on Joint Base Langley-Eustis, Virginia, volunteered with community members from Newport News, Virginia, to participate in Community Emergency Response Team training, October 19, 2019.

The CERT program educates civilian volunteers on disaster preparedness for the hazards that may impact their area and trains them in basic disaster response skills, such as fire safety, light search and rescue, team organization, and disaster medical operations.

For the Chaplain team, CERT training can help to broaden emergency response understanding and sharpen crisis counseling skills to first responders, victims, and families of victims.

Disasters can happen at a moment’s notice and without warning. For members of the Chaplain Corps, providing emotional and spiritual support to those affected in emergency situations is one of their primary missions.

When it comes to people impacted by these emergency situations, emotional and spiritual well-being may be just as important as physical well-being, and that is where the Chaplain Corps aims to serve.

“This is important because we look at somebody who might pass away and have the opportunity to give blessings which could give them comfort in their last moments of life,” said U.S. Air Force Capt. Ryan Ayers, 633rd Mission Support Group chaplain. “Not only that, we can give their families comfort because we are making a marking saying we have given them a final blessing.”

Many of the junior enlisted members of the Chaplain Corps have not been involved in training like this before.

“Our group wanted to participate because we are always trying to improve our readiness and abilities in critical situations,” said Airman 1st Class Alexandria Staten, 633rd Air Base Wing HC religious affairs airman. “This was good for us to see how operations are handled during a crisis situation.”

According to Staten, many of the procedures conducted by the Newport News community members during CERT training are actions the Chaplain Team may encounter in a deployed environment or a disaster situation.

Emergencies can range from natural disasters, like hurricanes or earthquakes, to man-made disasters such as active shooters or aircraft crashes. All of these situations are a possibility on the home front or in a deployed environment.

The Chaplain Corps steps into these situations to help with the spiritual triage for those involved in disastrous scenarios.

According to Airman 1st Class Olivia Preston, 633rd ABW HC religious affairs airman, emotional support is the top priority of the Chaplain Team so their mission in these scenarios is to provide the spiritual assistance that anyone affected by an emergency may need.

Spiritual triage isn’t always a glorious job for these members, but in the last moments of someone’s life, it might be able to provide them a little bit of solace.