Thursday, August 30, 2007

COMMENTARY>>Spiritual wellness is glue that holds us together

By Chaplain (Capt.) Dwayne A. Jones
88th Air Base Wing chaplain

WRIGHT-PATTERSON AIR FORCE BASE, Ohio (AFPN) — Sept. 11, 2001, was a day everyone will remember. A day that brought tears to our eyes and pain in our hearts. The common denominator that synergized all faith groups and nationality during Setp. 11 was spirituality.

People came together from various churches, synagogues, mosques, temples, economic and social backgrounds to care for people who were in despair and paralyzed with hopelessness.

People may ask, “What is spirituality?” That’s a good question.

Spirituality is connecting with the nucleus of one’s soul. Spirituality is connecting with something greater than you. On Sept. 11, many people responded to the crises to help people who were in need. Spirituality responds to all people regardless of color, creed, ethnicity, nationality or rank.

Spiritual wellness is taking care of people the way you want to be treated. You don’t have to be religious in order to be spiritual. Contrary to popular belief, I believe spiritual wellness supersedes any religious concept, except for God.

Spiritual wellness is like the glue that holds all the pages together in a book. It is what illuminates your purpose in life. Spiritual wellness is what encourages you to take the next step.

“Spiritual wellness is that something within us that keeps us going, that gives us focus in life,” said Chaplain (Brig. Gen.) Cecil R. Richardson, the Air Force deputy chief of chaplains at Headquarters U.S. Air Force in Washington, D.C. “It gives us purpose and meaning.”

Spiritual wellness has always been an integrate part of the Air Force Chaplaincy Corps; we just did not have an official name for it. The Air Force is well-known for taking care of people. This concept gives the chaplaincy the opportunity to further embrace and illuminate main arteries that pump life into the military community.

The military places a large amount of importance on physical fitness ensuring all Airmen are mission ready, to include spiritually fit as well.

Spiritual wellness is intended to focus on the spiritual needs and well-being of our Airmen and their families. Air Force chapel teams are trying to mold each Airman into a “total warrior” by galvanizing faith with the mission, increasing productivity in our people and thus creating a total force.

The chaplains and chaplain assistants have made an intentional effort to be involved, visible and advocates of religious freedom for everyone.

For the last five years, military members have encountered tremendous stress levels due to the high operations tempo and sudden calls to deploy across the world. Any military or family member can reach a chaplain 24 hours a day for counseling whenever an unfortunate crisis arises. The chaplaincy is the only organization that provides total confidentiality — privileged communication.

“A person who comes to me has a hunger that craves healing, understanding or being listened to,” said Chaplain (Col.) Joseph Kuan, the Air Force Materiel Command chaplain. “With the introduction of spiritual wellness as one of four dimensions of wellness, we go beyond our own personal beliefs so that we may help others.”

Bottom line: Let’s come together from various backgrounds and faith traditions, leaning forward and standing ready to be that glue that keeps fellow wingman from falling.


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