Operational ministry focuses on resiliency

  • Published
  • By Marge McGlinn
  • 480th Intelligence Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing Public Affairs
When Chaplain (Capt.) John Boulware arrived here in 2009 as chaplain of the 480th Intelligence, Surveillance and Reconnaissance Wing, his primary objective was to provide spiritual and resiliency care.

His biggest challenge in meeting that goal was visiting wing members located around the world in places like Germany, the South Korea, Hawaii, California, Georgia and Virginia.

"The main focus during my travels was to get to know the men and women in the groups I support," Chaplain Boulware said. "I made sure they received the resiliency guidance to help them meet their day-to-day challenges and pressures."

Resiliency has been the central theme of the chaplain's ministry plan for the past year. When he meets wing members, he reminds them that resilient warriors overcome adversity, bounce back from setbacks and can thrive under extreme, ongoing combat pressure, without acting in dysfunctional or harmful ways.

"Resilient people recover from traumatic experiences stronger, better and wiser," he said. "When hurt or distressed, resilient people expect to find a way to have things turn out well. They feel self reliant and have a learning (or) coping reaction rather than the victim (or) blaming reaction."

Chaplain Boulware, along with Merlin Choice, the superintendent for chapel operations, and Staff Sgt. David Cairo, the NCO in charge of chapel operations, said they find it challenging, but rewarding, to meet the spiritual needs of a global wing, plus Airmen deployed in-place.

"We want to be a visible presence to the deployed-in-place Airmen who perform a 'warrior' role at work and within minutes are in their homes providing a semblance of normalcy for their families," the chaplain said.

Sergeant Cairo, who handles visitation, administration and logistical support, also provides religious accommodation to the wing.

"Since this is my first stint in an operational ministry setting, I have to develop my visitation skills," Sergeant Cairo said. "The deployed-in-place members undergo great trials many people don't often consider."

Ms. Choice retired from the Air Force in December 2010, after 22 years as a chaplain's assistant. She's now responsible for managing all administrative and logistical support for the wing chaplain's office.

"The appointment to this position is the most rewarding experience of my career," she said. "Our ministry of presence enables me to witness the professionalism in our people. The quality of their work to accomplish the mission never ceases to amaze me."