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380AEW Article

Taking care of Airmen: 380 AEW CARE Team supports deployed resiliency

  • Published
  • By Staff Sgt. Marjorie A. Bowlden
  • 380th Air Expeditionary Wing Public Affairs

Deployment inherently includes sacrifice. However, it is important for Airmen to note that the core values do not say “service instead of self.” The reason for this is simple: If Airmen do not take care of themselves physically, socially, mentally and spiritually, the mission could easily fail.


This is why the chapel staff, equal opportunity, mental health and sexual assault response coordinator at the 380th Air Expeditionary Wing join forces in the CARE Team- to ensure that the mental and spiritual needs of deployed military members are met.


“Comprehensive health is like a chair,” said Master Sgt. Jessica Rawlinitis-Chenery, 380 AEW chapel operations superintendent. “If you take one of the legs of the chair off, it’s going to fall.”


Though problems with physical health can be simpler to address, it is just as important that Airmen feel comfortable addressing any issues with mental and spiritual health, said Capt. Karen Schaefer, mental health chief with the 380th Expeditionary Medical Group. While deployed, that resiliency becomes even more critical.


“I think with deployment, you throw people into a setting that’s removed from all of their normal coping mechanisms,” said Schaefer. “They’re away from their family, you can’t have your dog or your favorite gym, or any of the things you have at home. You really have to take a look at the services here and look for other coping mechanisms.”


These four closely-tied organizations do not provide exactly the same services, said Tech. Sgt. Brandy Vaughn, 380 AEW EO director. It is therefore important for Airmen to understand the different benefits that each offers.


For example, many Airmen know that the chaplain offers full confidentiality for those in need. However, the mental health office is trained to handle a broader spectrum of mental health struggles than the chapel staff and also offers Airmen a certain level of confidentiality, said Schaefer.


The CARE Team components do not compete with one another even though their duties may overlap, said 380 AEW Wing Chaplain Lt. Col. Bill Tesch. Instead, they work to point Airmen in the right direction, whether the best solution lies with their agency or not.


“In a lot of ways we each have our own lane and specialty,” said Tesch. “The reality is that in much of our work, we end up meeting and vectoring an Airman towards one another.”


In order to support morale and spread the word about the services they offer, the CARE Team also hosts events for Airmen across the installation. They recently held a barbecue for Father’s Day in which over 400 Airmen participated, said Rawlinitis-Chenery. They hope to hold similar events scattered throughout the remainder of the deployment.


Amid the craziness and stress that deployment can bring into one’s life, the CARE Team wants Airmen to know that it is there to support them in any way it can, said Vaughn.


“We’re hoping that personnel understand that they can walk away feeling that they have different agencies in their corner instead of not having anyone to turn to,” said Vaughn. “We’re here for them to assist them in the best way possible.”