The chaplain assistant: A source of help

  • Published
  • By Tech. Sgt. George LaPenta
  • 157th Air Refueling Wing Chaplain Office
The Air National Guard Chaplain's Office is a symbol of hope and encouragement for any Air Force installation, and embodies all aspects of spiritual and religious encouragement for Air Force personnel by providing spiritual care and the opportunity for Airmen, their families and others to exercise freely their right of religion.

Assisting chaplain counseling sessions, sermons, or invocations, are chaplain assistants taking care of the details that allow chaplains to provide spiritual care to Airmen.

A chaplain assistant is an Airman that has cross-trained from another AFSC, and must be the rank of at least a senior airman.

As part of the enlisted corps, chaplain assistants bridge the gap for enlisted members in need of spiritual guidance but might be uncomfortable speaking with a chaplain who is part of the officer corps.

Chaplain assistants can administer spiritual first aid, similar to a counseling session. It's important to note that chaplain assistants are not counselors; they can provide services in a crisis-intervention scenario when a chaplain is not available.

Some chaplain assistants may be ecclesiastically endorsed, or even may be ordained members of the clergy, but it is not a career field requirement.

Also, unlike a chaplain, chaplain assistants are not required to be of a specific faith or promote a specific religion. However, the goal is to accommodate all Airmen who may need to exercise their first amendment right of practicing their own faith while in uniform.

Another key role chaplain assistants provide is administrative support and personal aide to the chaplains. These Airmen are responsible for the logistics and operations of a Chaplain Office and in during a war time mission; taking on the duty of armed security for chaplains, since chaplains are non-combatants and cannot bear arms.

Lastly, chaplain assistants are "the eyes and ears of the chaplain."

This role is performed during visitation, and the interaction among Airmen. This duty is unique in its aspect that chaplain assistants have the specific job function per AFI 52-102V2 of helping alongside the chaplain to promote well-being for the Airman and positive morale in the Air Force work place.

In closing, the vision of the chapel is "Glorifying God, Serving Airmen, and Pursuing Excellence."

As we all will face challenges throughout our lives, it is our prayer that Airmen let the 157th Air Refueling Wing chaplain assistant team reach out to help and support Airmen while dealing with whatever burden may be facing Airmen.

For further information on the chaplain assistant program, contact them at 603-430-3446 or 603-430-3456.