Resiliency Support Teams: Meeting Airmen where they are

  • Published
  • By Airman 1st Class Mariam K. Springs
  • 19th Airlift Wing Public Affairs

LITTLE ROCK AIR FORCE BASE, Ark. -- “To care for Airmen more than anyone thinks possible.”

This is the vision of the Air Force Chaplain Corps.

To fulfill this vision, 19th Airlift Wing Chaplains and religious affairs Airmen are embedding themselves in each of the groups throughout the wing. Their mission: to meet Airmen where they are.

Known as Religious Support Teams, or RSTs, these small teams of chapel staff are there to advise commanders on unit morale and provide warrior care to Airmen at their workplace.

“The overall goal of meeting Airmen where they are is to inspire the readiness of Airmen through unparalleled care and leader advisement,” said Master Sgt. Leonardo Castaneda, 19th Airlift Wing religious affairs superintendent. “We know our Airmen are busy and stressed and may not have the time to come to us, so we go to them.” 

Often times Airmen are not aware of — or don’t take advantage of — the tools the religious affairs teams are equipped to help them with, said Castaneda.  

Religious affairs Airmen are trained to provide a variety of services to those in need such as assistance with religious ceremonies and services, as well as helping provide crisis support, suicide intervention, and stress management, in addition to other counseling services.

“This initiative is important because it humanizes the Chaplain Corps and removes barriers to better care for Airmen,” Castaneda said.  “For example, when we go out to Airmen working on the flightline, provide a cold drink and take the time to get to know them, it creates long last relationships.”

The RSTs make consistent visits to ensure there’s a strong rapport and confidence between them and the Airmen they serve. This also provides the teams with an opportunity to inform Airmen about the services and capabilities the Chaplain Corps has to offer.

“Our Airmen are our greatest asset and we want them to know we exist to serve them,” said Maj. Jeremy Caudill, 19th Airlift Wing deputy wing chaplain. “We care about their spiritual fitness and resiliency. Empirical data shows that unit embedded helping agencies help reduce stress, work fatigue and suicide ideations.”

Regardless of religious backgrounds or beliefs, the Chaplain Corps stands ready to serve all Airmen by ensuring their emotional and spiritual needs are met.

“Investing time and resources into the unit outreach portion is a critical part of our mission,” Castaneda said.

To speak with a Chaplain, call the Chapel at (501) 987-6014.