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JOINT IN FAITH AND IN SERVICE:Ohio’s Chaplains Train and Work Together

  • Published
  • By TSgt Brandon Boos
  • 179th Public Affairs Office
Nearly two dozen chaplains and chaplain assistants from all around Ohio gathered in the 179th Airlift Wing's Operations building to discuss common needs, concerns, and issues during the Wing's May unit training assembly. It is a quarterly gathering that has been happening since 2007; bringing soldiers and Airmen together in faith and service as they support a truly joint mission.
The focus of this quarter's meeting was homeland response, according to Chaplain Colonel Andrew Aquino, a member of the Ohio Army National Guard and the senior chaplain at Joint Forces Head Quarters in Columbus. The homeland response mission addresses situations like a natural disaster or a dirty bomb detonation within the state. "As chaplains our role in that response is to provide religious support for our units," Col. Aquino said.
It's a role that chaplains have played for a long time according to the National Museum of the United States Army's official website. "As long as armies have existed, military chaplains have served alongside soldiers, providing for their spiritual needs, working to improve morale, and aiding the wounded."
There is something that is a little unique about our Ohio National Guard chaplains, however. "Working jointly is just the way that we think here," Col. Aquino said of the long-standing partnership between Ohio's Army and Air National Guard chaplains. It was a sentiment that Chaplain Major David Shirley of the Ohio Air National Guard's 179th Airlift Wing echoed before the meeting. "We've been very fortunate that we've always had good support from our unit and state leadership for joint endeavors," he said. "It empowers us to do a lot more."
One area that both men cited as having benefitted from the joint mentality is the Strong Bonds Program, a resiliency-building program for families that strengthens relationships by addressing the stresses of deployments, reunions, and the military lifestyle.
A great deal of work goes into each event, and sometimes the need has been for as many as 10 events in a year, Maj. Shirley said. By working together, there is a greater pool of knowledge and trained personnel to help plan and execute the events, and that leads to greater efficiencies and better outcomes for everyone.