Bagram Chaplains provide spiritual support to Airmen throughout AOR

  • Published
  • By Senior Airman Cierra Presentado
  • 455th AEW Public Affairs

During a deployment, it’s important for Airmen to maintain a sense of spirituality in order to balance what may be a hectic life in a deployed environment.

The Chaplain Corps’ primary focus here is supporting Airmen to ensure they’re spiritually and mentally fit to perform their mission.
Bagram currently has a total of three chaplains and two chaplain assistants. The chaplain corps is divided into two teams; one team takes the east side of the base and the other team takes the west side. In addition to supporting the Airmen here at BAF, the chaplains also visit various forward operating bases throughout the area of responsibility.

“Here, me and my chaplain assistant Staff Sgt. Ronald Murray, support the east side of the base as well as a few Forward Operating Bases such as Camp Morehead and Kandahar,” said Capt. Richard Casey, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain. “On the east side we have a total of seven squadrons we take care off that we try to visit once a week.”

As part of AFCENT goals, the chaplains are required to visit their squadrons at least once a month. Here the chaplains try to visit their squadrons once a week. Along with their weekly visitations, the team also attends the squadron functions, such as movie night or if they have dinner with the Airmen, to build relationships and get to know them.

“It’s important that we build these relationships with the Airmen; we want them to know who we are and what our purpose is, which is solely to support them,” said Staff Sgt. Ronald Murray, 455th Air Expeditionary Wing chaplain assistant. “The more time we spend with our folks the more comfortable they will be around us. We want them to be able to come talk to us anytime.”

Once a month the teams visit FOBs throughout Afghanistan that may not have a chaplain in place. Because most of the FOBs are managed by the Army, the few Airmen that are spread out in the AOR fall under the 966th Air Expeditionary Squadron, which falls under the 455th AEW. Because of this, the chaplains are required to provide religious support to those Airmen.

When visiting the FOBs, the team speaks with Airmen, provide counseling if needed and participate in chapel activities.

“The same way we treat and support our Airmen here at BAF is the same way we do for the Airmen at the FOBs. We have lunch and we just have conversation and make sure they are doing well spiritually. All the Airmen know when we come by they can talk to us about anything,” Casey said. “I also preach a sermon for all the military members to come out and attend.”

The chaplain team offers a pleasant environment for Airmen in the event they need to talk. They have an open door policy and provide 100 percent confidentiality.

“We understand that sometimes Airmen have a preference on who they talk to as far as rank goes, that’s why I am here; I bridge the gap for Airmen that are not comfortable talking with the chaplain because he is an officer; Airmen are more than welcome to talk to me,” Murray said. “When Airmen do come talk to me, I do not give advice and tell them what they should or shouldn’t do, I simply listen.”

The team continues to focus on supporting Airmen in the AOR and accommodate the religious needs of Airmen.

“I love being a chaplain assistant and being able to interact with everyone here and away. I love talking to people and being that wingman that someone may need,” Murray said. “We’re going to do the best of our ability to make sure our Airmen’s needs get met and make sure they are balancing their spiritual lives while deployed here in Afghanistan.”